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TheHobgoblyn

The Issue with Ronin and New Families in Rokugan & Solution

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There has always been something that has bugged me about the setting, something that seems to have carried over from AEG to FFG. It is a logical inconsistency between writing the empire as an eternally stable place, yet also wanting to take from the real life Japanese feudal society elements that arose purely because of the chaotic state of affairs.

The first issue is Ronin.

Now, what is a Ronin by definition? It is a samurai who has no master. During the Sengoku period, it is likely we would apply it to someone who somehow got their hands on a serious weapon (bow, spear, sword, etc.) and armor, but doesn't work for any particular Warlord and maybe instead acts as a mercenary, hiring themselves out to whomever is willing to pay them. Now, this would arise in a number of ways

1) They did previously work for a Daimyo, but their side lost a war, the Daimyo was killed or deposed and the victorious army had no interest in hiring them.
2) Their Daimyo ran out of rice to pay them with, either through mismanagement or through famine or through enemy action. Regardless, they couldn't afford to continue to pay all their soldiers and had to let some go.
3) The person was a peasant who got ahold of the armor and weapons through some means and simply gave themself a new name. Yes, this was perfectly fine during the Sengoku period, it wasn't even unusual. One could be a farmer who decided to go follow a Warlord around and rise from being the guy who carried his shoes to one of his top generals to inheriting his entire empire should he die without heirs. The class restriction didn't exist until the Edo period.
4) They were a complete embarrassment and failure, not to the point of getting executed (and some of these notable samurai would behead their own family over nothing more than simply avoiding future inheritance disputes, yes-- even killing children if they figured the child might just grow up to want revenge), but instead would exile them and risk them working for an enemy down the line.

Now, by the later Edo period when peasant family lines were required to eternally be peasant family lines and soldier family lines were required to eternally be soldier family lines and all the wars of Daimyo trying to wipe each other out were brought to a close, it was only #2 and#4 that were happening. In fact, it wasn't even until this period that the concept of Ronin really began to solidify, because now-- if one was born a samurai, they couldn't just be a farmer or hunter or craftsman or trader like they could during the Sengoku period. Everyone's role in society was decided by birth, and if your job was to be a soldier and yet there was no one willing to pay you to be a solider, you were doomed to slow starvation. You could sell off your gear, maybe everything but your sword, and that might give you enough to last you a while.. but pretty much you were just doomed. You certainly couldn't afford to get married and have children and such-- you would be condemning any male children in particular to death unless you could get them adopted.

And that whole "they would keep their sword last"-- yeah, that is where the whole misconception of holy reverence for swords that is so fundamental in Rokugan came from. It wasn't that the swords were the most valuable piece of property or the greatest status symbol-- that would have been the horse. And, yes, every worthwhile samurai had a horse and knew how to ride it, it wasn't exclusive to some group of half-Mongollian outsiders who somehow all have one. The thing is, the horse also cost the most to keep, so that would often be the first thing to be sold off when a samurai landed on hard luck. And then would go the armor and all the actual serious war weapons because they were too much trouble to transport around, plus there were no more wars. So, in the end, all they had was their cheap, easily transported sidearm-- their katana. And that's why it became the symbol of "my family used to be samurai".

 

Now, Rokugan-- the land is far too stable. No Great Clan (which is all that was established during the time when a random peasant could become part of the samurai class) has ever been destroyed or gone bankrupt. No original clan has ever disappeared, period. So no ronin would ever have been created through the most common methods. Also, we are to believe that the Edo period restrictions on social class are not only currently in place, but always have been-- so the idea that these "Ronin" are just simple peasants who obtained weapons and decided to go parading around as samurai in hopes someone would hire them... that seems unlikely given that there are only 30 or so legitimate names in the empire, it is extraordinarily unlikely that people are being adopted into clans.

That means that the only possible source for Ronin would be people being monumental screw ups that get exiled, but somehow don't screw up enough to get executed. But this doesn't seem likely to happen very frequently-- afterall, any given clan has only about 4 families, so exiling your own family members doesn't seem like it is going to happen often enough for their to be a pool of thousands of ronin. Especially given that within Rokugan, there doesn't seem to be any method through which these ronin would feed themselves since there aren't a ton of minor factions or wealthy merchants for which they could do mercenary work.

 

Things get even more complicated given how the term "Ronin" has been abused in the setting and applied to things that are absolutely not in any way ronin. I am talking about the "Ronin Families"-- a pure load of nonsense. If the Emperor or a vassal of the Emperor says "I need a neutral party to oversee this city, so I am promoting you merchants to governor", then one is absolutely NOT a "Ronin". They have been assigned an actual governorship of an actual place, that would give them a more legitimate claim to the concept of "Minor Clan" than quite a lot of "Minor Clans" do. But, really, what they would be in such a case would be Imperial vassals. They absolutely would not be categorized with people who got exiled from one of the Great Clans and now have no official duty or job or legitimate method through which they could feed themselves. The same goes if you are so good at crafting blades that your family is granted a promotion and made the official Imperial smiths or if you saved the Emperor's child and are now made the official watchmen of a district of the Imperial City. Those are all legitimate stations for which one is getting paid through legitimate means by legitimate sources in the empire. In fact, they are all perfect examples of exactly what a Vassal really is and not the wonky way in which it was misused later. They aren't part of your family, but they work as servants answering to your family. Those are NOT "Ronin". And it makes no sense whatsoever for Rokugani society to refer to them as such. It is like calling the live-in nanny, maid and butler of the mayor "homeless people" because they nor their parents own or rent the house that they live in. "Ronin" does not mean "neutral", it means "unemployed" and given that it's use is still derogatory within Rokugan, it cannot have been redefined to be "neutral to the Great Clans, employed directly by the Imperials."

 

But what these do represent, however, is people who were previously "peasants" now being elevated to the level of "samurai". And we are given to understand that the Emperor has the option to do this. Which isn't too unusual, because as Rokugan was first forming, every family that doesn't carry a kami's name (and some of them that do) never did have the blood of one of the Kami. They were just originally folk like any other folk who did some favors for Kami and thus got named as special. And then that person's whole tribe, or literally everyone they felt like adding to their organization, became part of their family regardless of whether they were actually related or not. At that point there was no distinction between "peasant" and "samurai", so there was no issue. The "samurai", the "nobility" ended up being whomever got adopted into one of these families by the time the empire fully formed and the class mobility restrictions were put into place. So that's why and how the initial families got to be so very large. In fact, even beyond those carrying a Kami's name, some of the families in the empire are absolutely not at all related to the person whose name they carry because that person died without having any children.

But what about after the restriction gets put in place?

Okay, so if the Emperor decides that he likes the sword that was made for him so much that the guy who made it and all of his children and all of his apprentices and maybe anyone else he decides to include are now the "Tsi family", or the guy who saved his son and his 100 underlings and all their wives and children are now the "Yotsu" family, or that group of merchants who just delivered a big bribe to him to buy governorship of that city and all of their underlings and wives and children are now the "Kaeru" family. That is all good and fine, 6/7ths, if not more, of Rokugan are peasants. If a bunch of peasants are offered the ability to raise their social rank, naturally they would be all for it. Of course, even in these cases, the final family isn't really going to number more than a few dozen, maybe a couple hundred in the case of Yotsu.

But... what happens when the Emperor decides to award a new family name to someone who is already a samurai? "Hey, Komori! You are now the Bat Clan!" What exactly happens in a case like this? It seems like these samurai often wouldn't have anyone under them. There is no good reason their relatives would be at all willing to stop being "Phoenix Clan" and start being "Bat Clan", so it isn't like he is going to be recruiting all his brothers and cousins and uncles to his new Clan. But like the very next week, there are thousands of them and they have a fully fleshed-out, unique school that is just as powerful as any Great Clan school.

This can't be adopting a bunch of Ronin because, as I explained above, Ronin are already massively overrepresented in the setting because the very circumstances that created 99% of the Ronin that ever existed in Japan absolutely do not exist in Rokugan given that the setting insisted that there were only 7 clans and for 1000 years there were only ever 7 clans and that number never fluctuated and no daimyo ever rose or fell. So if someone is granted a new unique family name by the emperor, are they then allowed to promote all their favorite ashigaru and servants and merchants to the rank of nobility by adopting them all? Is there a particular grace period in which they are allowed to do that or can they just do that going forward?...

Oh, as an aside-- how did this play out in real Japan? Well-- funny thing that-- people were free to just rename themselves whenever they wanted. They could just give themselves whatever new name they felt like, whenever they felt like doing so. In fact, often the same individuals would go by several names during the course of their lives. Now-- if one's relatives were particularly powerful or famous, it is very likely that one wouldn't particularly want to change their name. Also, if one had accomplished a number of impressive feats or participated in important events under one name, they might not want to change it again. However, if one was on the outs with one's family or one's family were peasants or one had really screwed up under their old name or their family had mostly been killed or disgraced or deposed... yeah, one could just go by a new name for no reason other than they just felt like doing so. All they needed to do was just start introducing themselves by and using the new name. Also, if you were the child or possibly other relative to someone with great status who changed their name, you generally went along with it and changed your name too.

So new family names were being made up all the time. There were even cases where two entirely unrelated groups reached considerable fame using the same name, possibly entirely by accident and sometimes with the later simply showing reverence to the former. And there were times when two people would go to war simply because they had both picked the same name and needed to fight to decide who was more deserving of it.

That within Rokugan either the Emperor (or one who speaks on his behalf) or one of the Daimyo has to be the one to grant the family name kind of cleans up this whole system.

And, if a newly named family by the Emperor, a "minor clan" is allowed to just elevate everyone they want from the lower society ranks to being part of their family, why would this be a right granted exclusively to Minor Clan samurai and forbidden to Great Clan samurai? Surely if a minor clan can inflate its ranks by just granting samurai status to whomever they want, then the Great Clans would certainly want the right to do the same, particularly if they lose a lot of members to warfare or tragedy.

In fact, this would allow continuation of the use of "vassal families". Only the previous use of the term was wildly inappropriate. Somehow most of the origins of "vassal family" were that someone within one of the typical Great Clan families accomplished some great feat or specialized in something interesting, so they were rewarded... by demotion for them and all their relatives. Because vassal means "servant", and this isn't some Japanese word that you can just bend over and redefine however you like because you haven't any respect for the language and it was a gray area to begin with. If they were a vassal, they work for you and are going to be of lower status than your own family. Vassals within Great Clans would almost certainly be Ashigaru or merchants or craftsman or others who showed great service and sacrifice and were thus honored by being made quasi-samurai. It could also be exiles from other clans who ended up siding with them or ronin who showed great service and thus were given a place in the clan, but not as full members.

While this would solve the issue, it creates another pretty big problem-- no longer does the story of Taka and his Monkey Clan make the least bit of sense. The stories were written to imply that him simply obtaining weapons and armor and passing himself off as a samurai was somehow extraordinarily rare, if not a unique circumstance. But examination of the setting indicates that probably quite a lot of the ronin are just ashigaru and the only explanation for how every time a new family gets named, they are immediately as numerous as the fleas on a dogs back even though it was only 1 guy who was granted the name. And even a peasant rising up to become a minor clan wouldn't necessarily be a unique incident at all. (Is there any good indication that the Boar clan wasn't exactly that? Since when do samurai engage in mining activities or fail for a generation to report into their superiors?!)

 

What this would mean is that as far as samurai ranks go, it would look more like this than how it has been presented before.

10. The Emperor - Obviously just the Hantei line, and even then it is only 1 person from each generation. The Emperor usually takes a consort, so if one can marry the Emperor, their child can hold this role.
9. Emperor's Immediate Family/Highest Imperial Offices - This is the rank for the Champions and Shogun (if that is still a thing) as well as the Empress. They are basically free to do whatever they want until the Emperor tells them otherwise. One pretty much needs to do something pretty amazing to end up here (except the prince/princess who is born into it) and even then, it is unlikely anyone who isn't a top Great Clan or Imperial member is even going to be given the opportunity to try.
8. Great Clan Leaders & Imperial Family Elite - Again, this is going to be passed down through the most pure bloodlines and one can't really aspire to this. You can marry them if you are no more than a couple stations down, but you aren't going to achieve this rank through marriage.
7. Great Clan with Imperial Offices or Governorship  & Typical Imperial Family members - These guys have high station and important roles in the functioning of the empire. It is possible for regular samurai to achieve this rank through hard work/promotion.
6. Minor Clan Leaders - They have actual land governorship, but small ones and aren't generally part of the main political workings. This would be granted to someone who doesn't have strong ties to any clan or sets themselves up somewhere no one else wants to lay claim to. Almost certainly going to come from someone who is already a samurai, or at least be able to claim they are.
5. Typical Great Clan Samurai & Low Rank Imperials - These are the ones who don't have any land claims, beyond maybe their own households, but work for those who do. This would be seen as the "average" samurai rank and one still kind of needs to be born into this rank to hold it. This is what people are typically playing when they make an RPG character and such. Someone from the next few lower stations could marry in.
4. Imperial Vassal Families - These would be peasants who did particularly great work for the Emperor or someone close to him. It can be regularly acknowledged that they were peasants or merchants or craftsmen before they got a promotion and a name. They have no land claims, but would have a specific job that they do mainly for the Imperials, but possibly for high ranking Great Clan samurai-- they just aren't tied to any clan in particular. A peasant can be promoted to this rank, but only if they somehow both encounter and do a great deed for the Emperor and his immediate family or the Empire as a whole-- something that happens less than once a century. Also, they would probably marry peasants into these families and try to marry their own children out of them. 
4. Low Rank Great Clan Samurai & Minor Clan Samurai - No land ranks, no real influence. They are probably kept really busy with mundane tasks, even doing things that would be considered "below" most samurai station. When a Minor Clan very first forms, it is possible non-samurai can become Minor Clan samurai, but they will need to have had a strong relationship with a hero who was granted his own Minor Clan. It might also be possible for non-samurai to marry into these ranks as no one from higher ranks will want to marry down into this rank.
3. Great Clan Vassal Families - They were granted their family name for a Great Clan and were either ronin or non-samurai before then. No land claim, can hardly even expect acknowledgement outside of their own clan. They likely have some narrow duty for their clan and get treated marginally better than standard ashigaru. This is going to be a peasant so exceeding expected duty it likely only happens once a century.  It is likely that they just marry or adopt peasants at this point as no one would marry down into these families.
2. Minor Clan Vassal Families - Same as Great Clan vassals above, but their deeds were for some Minor Clan leader. An average rank samurai is likely not going to treat them any better than a ronin or ashigaru. This is likely only going to happen if someone shows great service well after the Minor Clan establishes itself, because otherwise why wouldn't they just marry the person into their clan as a full member? It is likely that they just marry or adopt peasants at this point as no one would marry down into these families.
1. Ronin - Former samurai who did something so shameful that they were exiled or were from a Minor Clan that got wiped out yet survived it or, most likely, just Ashigaru with weapons who are claiming some heritage they probably don't have. They are going to serve as mercenaries, probably mostly for merchants unless a clan is really pressed for troops. Plenty others are just going to become bandits. But if Rokugan is functioning as well as it claims to be, anyone stuck in this purgatory is likely going to starve to death.

 

This would mean that rather than the edo era hard divisions between social classes, social advancement is possible, mostly through military service. And for Rokugan to have lasted so long, this would almost certainly have to be the case. The real life government that imposed the social structure that Rokugan intended to emulate rotted away within 200 years with the samurai having almost nothing left but the clothes on their back and their side-arm and the merchants and entertainers effectively running the society despite being the "lowest" social tier.

Of course, social mobility even under this system would still be unusual. Unless someone accomplishes something pretty historic and way beyond their station in life, they themselves are not going to advance. However, they could marry their children off to higher ranks generation by generation. So social ladder climbing would still be possible, it would just generally be a generational thing where you first marry into the grayish tier of the vassal families and then try to marry up to being a full fledged member.

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1 hour ago, Tabris2k said:

Also, as always, Rokugan is not Japan. 

Actually, that is the core of the problem right there.

"I want to steal this thing from Japanese samurai culture"

"But the very social climate things that even allowed that to be a thing don't exist in your world."

"I'll just say they work the same way."

..... and that is the face-palm moment.

The world needs to be consistent, at least the social setting parts of it if the social setting parts of it are the parts players are allowed to interact with. None of what I wrote about in my long post is due to "magic" and therefore kami cannot be used an an explanation. If you want to explain away weird weather patterns or land formations or what have you... by all means.

This is about the flesh-and-blood human element in the setting.

2 hours ago, Khudzlin said:

I don't see those hordes of ronin, either in the cards (Wandering Ronin is the only card with the Ronin trait), or in the stories.

Yeah, FFG has only printed 1 Ronin card so far, it was an unnamed and the stories haven't started heavily relying on putting in Ronin characters yet. They haven't put "Ronin Families" yet either, thus-- a year in and this isn't a problem.

But, they have copied the old setting so much that it is a potential future problem. And it was most definitely a problem in the original version of the setting, everything from Toturi leading a 2000 man strong ronin army to making a minor clan out of every animal imaginable.

So if FFG is already starting to flirt with the concept of Minor Clans in the setting beyond the Mantis, it is worth thinking about these things.

 

How long before before a story takes place in City of the Rich Frog and they start writing about the oxymoronic "Ronin Family that governs the city". Even within Rokugan, it is very, very important that the term "Ronin" means "homeless and not employed by the imperial system" and not simply "neutral to the 7 Great clans", because if the guys who are governing the city for the Emperor by his command are "ronin" by any definition of the term, the term itself entirely loses all meaning and impact.

In fact, because those guys have governorship of a city, they probably deserve the title of "minor clan" as much as I am sure no one would take the "Frog Clan" seriously. Meanwhile, the "Tortoise Clan" which doesn't really have its own lands and simply lives in and around the capital ought to simply be an "Imperial Vassal Family" since they don't have governorship over any lands.

The best solution is not "magic" or "kami", but simply noting that there actually is more social mobility in the setting than initially stated, and most of that mobility happens when one of the Minor Clans or Vassal Families gets created, which is only when something remarkable happens, and that the lowest ranking samurai do marry commoners into their families. That there is sort of a gray area there where bleed-over occurs.

And it allowed Vassal Families to remain part of the setting, just requires a slight reinterpretation of the origin of a number of them and a bit of the execution.

So, for example, someone could be from the Endo family, which might mean something to a Crab. And they certainly would not have been started by "Kaiu Endo", but rather the overseer for the crew of stonemasons who built a castle for the Hiruma would have been named simply "Endo" and then he and his crew would have been elevated to vassals of the Crab Clan called the "Endo family".

But, if they meet a Lion, they would still initially introduce themselves as a member of the Endo family, but expecting that any but those most versed with the structure of the Crab Clan wouldn't know what that was. They would never introduce themselves as  member of the Hiruma, but they might wear a Hiruma mon because they are servants of the Hiruma. They would introduce themselves as vassals of the Hiruma perhaps, in which case the Lion would understand that they are worthy of a bit more respect than an Ashigaru or a Ronin, but not as much as a proper Hiruma. In fact, depending on just how proud and pompous the Lion was, he might not even consider the Endo a proper samurai at all, but just a Crab favored Ashigaru group. (But  that is still above Ronin, because someone at least likes them and has been impressed by their abilities.)

 

This would help make the setting not only more consistent, but potentially much richer and deeper.

Because there were good ideas there, but huge plotholes left because so many different hands got ahold of the elements and decide to use the elements without quite understanding the meanings of the words they were using or maybe didn't come up with the best ways to describe their ideas. And then every time someone came up with a new idea, whether it be "Minor Clans" or "Ronin Families" or "Vassal Families", they applied the label to everything in sight, including things that probably shouldn't have had that label.

Edited by TheHobgoblyn

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2 hours ago, TheHobgoblyn said:

But, they have copied the old setting so much that it is a potential future problem. And it was most definitely a problem in the original version of the setting, everything from Toturi leading a 2000 man strong ronin army to making a minor clan out of every animal imaginable.

So if FFG is already starting to flirt with the concept of Minor Clans in the setting beyond the Mantis, it is worth thinking about these things.

In fairness in the old setting when Toturi was leading his Ronin army it was post Scorpion Clan Coup so there were a large number of Ronin to take in since they had disbanded the entire Scorpion Clan and the Akodo family of the Lion, and while yes many of the Akodo did either join other families or take the Deathseeker oath just as many ended up following their lord in to Ronin status.
 

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Yeah, Toturi's Army is a special case. Anyone who chose to follow Toturi would be considered "ronin", because they had nothing--in the context of  the Celestial Order, anyway--that would constitute a "Lord". But those were remarkable circumstances, as a large number of samurai decided to follow the "ronin-ized" Toturi after he was cast out by Hantei XXXIX, in what amounted to a rebellion against the Throne. Toturi's Army was, in fact, effectively a big otokodate or "ronin brotherhood". 

Things like otokodate still exist in the new setting; the mercenaries that the Crane hired to flesh out their army probably included at least one and perhaps several otokodate (and individual ronin that came dribbling in, in response to the Crane's hiring). Most of these wave-men are probably the children of ronin, meaning there's a ronin "community" scattered around the Empire. But it probably doesn't amount to more than a few hundred at the low end to maybe a few thousand (depends in part on how big the Empire's population is, which we don't really know). Just to be clear, that's my take on the NEW setting as it currently stands, not the old one!

As for whether FFG decides to resurrect things from the old setting like the Yotsu or the Kaeru, or even Toturi's Army, I have no idea. That would entirely be their call.

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3 hours ago, DGLaderoute said:

Things like otokodate still exist in the new setting; the mercenaries that the Crane hired to flesh out their army probably included at least one and perhaps several otokodate (and individual ronin that came dribbling in, in response to the Crane's hiring). Most of these wave-men are probably the children of ronin, meaning there's a ronin "community" scattered around the Empire. But it probably doesn't amount to more than a few hundred at the low end to maybe a few thousand (depends in part on how big the Empire's population is, which we don't really know). Just to be clear, that's my take on the NEW setting as it currently stands, not the old one!

Okay, but given that no daimyo in all of the Empire's 1000 years ever had their clan/family destroyed nor went bankrupt and had to release all of their retainers, how exactly did there come to be so many ronin in the first place? The answer can't be a lost minor clan, because at that point you would have to explain how the Minor Clan ever grew so large in the first place.

There are only going to be so many people exiled from any given tribe, especially given just how stable everything has been for 1000 years, no one could have screwed up all that much. And those who did get exiled aren't going to be having tons of kids.

Really, for there to be even a few hundred, even a few dozen-- well, any amount at any given time for there to be a "community", the only possible answer as for where they could be coming from is that most of these "ronin" are just peasants who decided to go off on adventure and somehow got their hands on a weapon or armor or something and started calling themselves a "ronin". Either that or there is a major requirement for the entire history of the setting to be rewritten so that people are losing their place in the clans all the time and whole clans/families have been wiped out, and somehow it is all being covered up by official historians within the empire.

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Sure, a lot of them COULD be peasants masquerading as ronin. There's no "ronin register" in the Empire, so pretty much anyone with the desire to do so could declare themselves ronin and, if they're in a part of the Empire remote from where they might be known, who's going to gainsay them? It's arguable, I guess, whether the life of a ronin is "better" than the life of a peasant, or vice versa; it would depend on the particular situations of ronin and peasant. They may not be very good warriors, lacking training and such but, again, who would care?

And you're right, we're certainly not aware of an entire family that's been obliterated (well, the Shimizu of the Lion actually come to mind, but they're kind of a special case, as are the Snake Clan), but it doesn't require an entire family in the sense of "major family of a clan". What IS entirely possible is that a relatively low-level lord may have died, or been disgraced, or otherwise experienced a fate such that his vassals all ended up as ronin; this could end up being...well, probably not hundreds of samurai, but tens, perhaps? The extent to which this would be recorded in the Imperial histories might be a subject for some debate, but there are presumably LOTS of things that have happened in the Empire over it's 1100 years of history that aren't reflected in the history as has been written (and made available to us, the readers). There are, after all, reigns of entire Emperors that are pretty thin on details.

And then, of course, there are the individual samurai over the years that have been cast out of their clans and families as ronin. It's not too difficult to imagine that, over 11 centuries, the aggregate effect is a small, and fluctuating, but persistent population of ronin in Rokugan. And maybe population is a better term than community, as the latter implies some degree of cohesion and organization, and that's almost certainly not the case at all.

In any case, none of this really requires any rewriting or retconning. The existing story benefits in various ways from having a persistent ronin presence in the Empire, and there a variety of ways that such a presence could have come about. Again, I have no idea if FFG has any plans to do more than this with ronin, or just leave them as kinda milling around "out there", ready to be brought into the story as individuals or in small groups, as dramatic needs dictate. But I think the story certainly supports that.

Now, PERSONALLY, I'm not a big fan of making the ronin presence much more than that. Ronin have their uses in a story, but those uses are, IMO, pretty niche. But like I said before, if FFG decides to do otherwise, well, it's their IP!

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7 hours ago, DGLaderoute said:

There are, after all, reigns of entire Emperors that are pretty thin on details.

Hantei XIV was the fourteenth Emperor of Rokugan.

Literally all we know about them is that they ruled somewhere between 532 (when Hantei XIII ascended to the throne) and 589 (when Hantei XV abdicated). We're not even sure about their gender.

I don't mind Ronin, personally. There must have been plenty of samurai out there who'd rather hit the road than commit seppuku for dishonoring themselves or their family/Lord/Clan over the years. That, and I like the idea of Toku showing up at some point.

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23 hours ago, TheHobgoblyn said:

None of what I wrote about in my long post is due to "magic" and therefore kami cannot be used an an explanation. 

Really? Let’s try... Hantei didn’t really defeated Onnotangu. After cutting his belly open and release his brothers, His mother casted a spell that linked Onnotangu and Hantei in an eternal dream. In that dream, he made up the Fall, Rokugan, and all that has happened since. That’s why everything is always unchanged. Because is all a dream. See? Easy. If the writers of Lost could get away with that horrible ending, sure L5R writers can also get away with this.

Now, let’s put snarkiness aside, and get a little bit serious.

On 9/18/2018 at 3:19 PM, Khudzlin said:

@Tabris2k Internal consistency is not too much to ask. It helps a lot with suspension of disbelief.

It is, when it’s impossible to achieve. In every fantastical setting, there’s always inconsistencies (like, how D&D economy can work with all that magic around? Every level 3 wizard would be rich in days.), that are normally dealt with with vague explanations, because the moment you try to explain everything from a logical, social, and economic POV, it gets in the way of story. For example, in some of the last fictions, the Crane needs to hire ronin, just as a way to demonstrate how military and economically starved they are. If you’re gonna spend the whole story trying to explain why ronin exists and where they come from in the first place, then there’s no Crane story. The same applies to a lot of aspects of Rokugan society. In a fantasy setting, as a reader, you need to be prepared to overlook a lot of inconsistencies to be able to immerse in the setting. In fact, in a setting being written by a lot of people as this one, putting too much details is worse for suspension of disbelief. If a writer goes into a lengthy explanation about Lion army numbers, tactics, and distribution of said forces around their territory, the reader can go “wait a minute, that doesn’t match that fiction from last year.” easily than when those details are left vague. And don’t ask the writers about having all those details presents, because we’re talking about 7 clans, and that’s a lot of information. If a writer wants to have a force of a thousand Phoenix Bushi in the northern border, but then is “oh, I can’t, another writer said that there are now 25000 Bushi in the Lion border, and 3000 as guards in Kyuden Isawa, and the other 2000 went to war with the Unicorn, so there are no Bushi left for me to put them here. Well, I guess I’ll have to change my whole fiction” then you’re putting more constrains in the story than necessary. Sometimes, instead of helping, details get in the way of story

16 hours ago, TheHobgoblyn said:

Okay, but given that no daimyo in all of the Empire's 1000 years ever had their clan/family destroyed nor went bankrupt and had to release all of their retainers, how exactly did there come to be so many ronin in the first place? The answer can't be a lost minor clan, because at that point you would have to explain how the Minor Clan ever grew so large in the first place.

We can go for an easy explanation here:

The Crab has around 300.000 soldiers in its army (old5R). Are you really telling me not even 1 in a 1000 of those is gonna say “Screw this, I've had enough of this fighting, I’m outta here”? That’s 300 ronin, let’s say per year. Amount that to all the other clans. Around 1000 ronin per year? Now, add those that go into roninhood as result of dishonor or shame (The Phoenix Elemental Master of Earth became a ronin after losing a duel, for example, and the son of a Dragon Daimyo became a ronin out of spite for his father) You got like... I dunno, more than enough ronin to serve their purpose, which is just to be there, available, for when a writer needs them to fill a particular role in a story. 

Sure, we then can go into an in-deeper explanation of why this doesn’t work, or about how it works, but how it affects the rest of Rokugan in an economic, social, and military way that is not reflected in the fictions. But again: That would get in the way of story. Which is basically the ultimate goal of a game like this: to have fun and get an engaging and thriving story, not get meddled in the minutiae of how the particular details of a certain part of the setting don’t match with those of a real period of the history of a real country. 

17 hours ago, Ishi Tonu said:

I have no problems with the movie Ronin. 

47 Ronin on the other hand........... :rolleyes:

You didn’t like that movie only because the Oni and the Forces of Evil lost in the end, admit it. 

Edited by Tabris2k

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5 hours ago, Tabris2k said:

You didn’t like that movie only because the Oni and the Forces of Evil lost in the end, admit it. 

But Keanu did win.  :)

When the movie just completely bastardizes an already good book it's going to have to be something spectacular for me to like it.  47 Ronin was not that movie.

......and also the Oni and the forces of evil lose at the end.  Which seems wrong to me in every movie since Spaceballs.

"Evil will always triumph, because good is dumb"

-Dark Helmet

Edited by Ishi Tonu

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2 hours ago, Tabris2k said:

 

It is, when it’s impossible to achieve. In every fantastical setting, there’s always inconsistencies (like, how D&D economy can work with all that magic around? Every level 3 wizard would be rich in days.), that are normally dealt with with vague explanations, because the moment you try to explain everything from a logical, social, and economic POV, it gets in the way of story. For example, in some of the last fictions, the Crane needs to hire ronin, just as a way to demonstrate how military and economically starved they are. If you’re gonna spend the whole story trying to explain why ronin exists and where they come in the first place, then there’s no Crane story. The same applies to a lot of aspects of Rokugan society. In a fantasy setting, as a reader, you need to be prepared to overlook a lot of inconsistencies to be able to immerse in the setting. In fact, in a setting being written by a lot of people as this one, putting too much details is worse for suspension of disbelief. If a writer goes into a lengthy explanation about Lion army numbers, tactics, and distribution of said forces around their territory, the reader can go “wait a minute, that doesn’t match that fiction from last year.” easily than when those details are left vague. And don’t ask the writers about having all those details presents, because we’re talking about 7 clans, and that’s a lot of information. If a writer wants to have a force of a thousand Phoenix Bushi in the northern border, but then is “oh, I can’t, another writer said that there are now 25000 Bushi in the Lion border, and 3000 as guards in Kyuden Isawa, and the other 2000 went to war with the Unicorn, so there are no Bushi left for me to put them here. Well, I guess I’ll have to change my whole fiction” then you’re putting more constrains in the story than necessary. Sometimes, instead of helping, details get in the way of story

This reminds me of the WoW guy that always went to the BlizzCon to ask about story inconsistencies.

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5 hours ago, Tabris2k said:

It is, when it’s impossible to achieve. In every fantastical setting, there’s always inconsistencies (like, how D&D economy can work with all that magic around? Every level 3 wizard would be rich in days.), that are normally dealt with with vague explanations, because the moment you try to explain everything from a logical, social, and economic POV, it gets in the way of story. For example, in some of the last fictions, the Crane needs to hire ronin, just as a way to demonstrate how military and economically starved they are. If you’re gonna spend the whole story trying to explain why ronin exists and where they come from in the first place, then there’s no Crane story.

You don't tell it in that story. But once you have a story that is taking place from a particular ronin's point of view, it would be good for there to be some details about how that individual ronin became a ronin in the first place. And once you are printing an entire RPG where you invite people to tell stories in your world and also expressly allow people to make ronin characters, you are going to need an explanation as to how in a world where everyone is neatly divided into less than a dozen clans, mainly 7, and everyone born into those clans is eternally a member of those clans and it has always been that way ever since there was an empire, that anyone-- much less many someones-- managed to end up a "samurai" without a master and how exactly they get by-- because once someone plays a ronin character, or the GM wishes to use ronin NPCs, that information is extraordinarily important.

You can do a movie like Star Wars without explaining where the Storm Troopers came from. But the moment you open the world up for individuals to take action, you hand someone the role of "a Storm Trooper" and allow them to do whatever it makes sense for that character to do in an open world, they are **** well going to need to know where exactly Storm Troopers came from and what the typical history, mentality, hardships and motivation is of one.

And if later someone writing the setting, even the person in charge, decides to call a planet a "Stormtrooper Planet" only the people there don't become Stormtroopers, they don't wear armor and have nothing in common with Stormtroopers beyond that they serve the Emperor, one wouldn't be out-of-line questioning whether that should even be the correct term for such a thing.

 

Oh, and, by the way? A third level wizard in basically all additions of D&D can cast about 6 useful spells during a day, none of which creates anything permanent nor would be all that particularly useful in actual employment. The economy of D&D would not be very damaged by a number of wizards running around anymore than the economy of the real world is damaged by us having motorvehicles, computers, and smartphones-- all of which are far more useful in actual productive work than a 3rd level wizard. Now, if there were quite a lot of 15-20 level of pretty much any class existing within the D&D world, and the fact that the wilderness ends up getting infested with monsters that are whatever level the protagonists are at, so much so that one cannot even travel between two cities without likely encountering a couple things of that power level... that would destroy the world's economy completely.

Imagine if the NPCs put 2 and 2 together and figured that out-- that the players kill things and get increasingly more powerful through doing so, as if they were absorbing the souls of the things they killed and gaining strength. No one else in the world seems to get stronger by mass slaughter of peoples and creatures. And the stronger they become, the more dangerous the world in general becomes so that there are even stronger things everywhere for them to kill and steal the souls of... It might be worth lampshading that if your tabletop game has resorted to such a thing become incredibly obvious so that even the characters in the game can't be overlooking this correlation.

But that is why D&D has always made from incredibly **** stories in general. Every time a story that originated in D&D or just tried to just be based on the setting of D&D was attempted to be sold to a wider audience, it failed. And various steps have been taken through the editions to mitigate this.

 

5 hours ago, Tabris2k said:

In fact, in a setting being written by a lot of people as this one, putting too much details is worse for suspension of disbelief. If a writer goes into a lengthy explanation about Lion army numbers, tactics, and distribution of said forces around their territory, the reader can go “wait a minute, that doesn’t match that fiction from last year.” easily than when those details are left vague. And don’t ask the writers about having all those details presents, because we’re talking about 7 clans, and that’s a lot of information. If a writer wants to have a force of a thousand Phoenix Bushi in the northern border, but then is “oh, I can’t, another writer said that there are now 25000 Bushi in the Lion border, and 3000 as guards in Kyuden Isawa, and the other 2000 went to war with the Unicorn, so there are no Bushi left for me to put them here. Well, I guess I’ll have to change my whole fiction” then you’re putting more constrains in the story than necessary. Sometimes, instead of helping, details get in the way of story

You aren't very familiar with telling stories, that much in obvious.

If it has been established that a nation is fighting on 3 fronts, and you have established that they have sent consider amounts of their force to 2 other fronts before this new assault begins-- then it is the opitimi of **** storytelling for you to just completely ignore that and act like they have limitless troops to be everywhere at once.

This isn't "details getting in the way of the story", this is more like you don't comprehend the concept of there being consequences to actions. Actually keeping track of this stops you from telling generic and **** **** stories? GOOD!!

What you end up having here is not "you can't tell your story", but rather an opportunity to tell a better and more dramatic story than you could have otherwise. If for some reason Phoenix would want to send troops to the northern border (I can't really imagine why given that area is outside of Rokugan and they tend not to get much information on what is happening out there) but they are already at war with both the Unicorn and Lion who are each occupying about a third of their total forces while the remaining are stationed in Kyuden Isawa waiting to see where they need to reinforce... Then they can't send thousands of bushi to the northern border.

Instead if they want troops up there, they are going to have no choice but to send a bunch of conscripts maybe commanded by a bunch of rookies who have just completed their training. And given that, again, the northern border generally isn't an active military zone, maybe the generals thought nothing of doing this-- they just want patrols up there, just in case. They can send a messenger if for the first time in 500 years something actually happens up there so that the main army in the capital can respond.

And if something does happen at the northern border, then that is going to be an NPC force-- something not controlled by any of the card game's factions. Probably the "big bad" of the story cycle.

So now you get to tell the story of how these rookies of the Phoenix clan were left to guard the northern border because the main Phoenix armies were otherwise occupied. And these are kids and peasants up there, you can really humanize them in your story. And then the big foreign army for the first time in 500 years attacks the empire, and these kids have to try to hold the wall best they can while awaiting for the serious army to come. And, chances are, they don't. But they can die heroically in the struggle. And the Phoenix clan won't come out of it looking weak for having been beaten by the big NPC baddie, because the big NPC baddie never faced real Phoenix Clan bushi. Instead, it'll be a tragic event that will inspire the Phoenix clan to revenge and probably even make those fighting them feel sympathy.

 

And all your idea was to just make a bland, generic as possible story about 2000 bushi guarding the northern border that would go absolutely no where.

 

Details do not get in the way. Details allow you to tell a much better story because instead of resorting to the same generic answer over and over again, it presents a chance for the writer to really be creative by presenting opportunities that one probably wouldn't even have thought up otherwise. When people can just resort to the same few tricks over and over again, they do. But if there are details to keep track of that would prevent you from doing the first thing you think of, the second thing you think of is almost always better.

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On 9/18/2018 at 12:46 PM, TheHobgoblyn said:

 

That means that the only possible source for Ronin would be people being monumental screw ups that get exiled, but somehow don't screw up enough to get executed. But this doesn't seem likely to happen very frequently-- afterall, any given clan has only about 4 families, so exiling your own family members doesn't seem like it is going to happen often enough for their to be a pool of thousands of ronin. Especially given that within Rokugan, there doesn't seem to be any method through which these ronin would feed themselves since there aren't a ton of minor factions or wealthy merchants for which they could do mercenary work.

That's not quite right in the sense that if you want to use Japan as example ronin did grow out as a product of the stable Edo society, through similar processes that produced the archetypical impoverished nobles from, say, Spain and Portugal in the XV-XVIIIth centuries. Stability and conservtive societies are quite capable of producing non-optimal results. IIRC there were actually policies enacted by Tsunayoshi to give ronin a safety net so that they couldn't be a focus of instability, but I really don't remember the details.

 

I do think it is useful to think less of the "families" as families, but  more as clans or polities. If we treat them as such and adding the possibility of both Imperial and Clan leaderships disbanding, dispossessing and moving families around, increases the verisimilitude of the setting in regards to the amount of ronin we sometimes see.

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Things get even more complicated given how the term "Ronin" has been abused in the setting and applied to things that are absolutely not in any way ronin. I am talking about the "Ronin Families"-- a pure load of nonsense. If the Emperor or a vassal of the Emperor says "I need a neutral party to oversee this city, so I am promoting you merchants to governor", then one is absolutely NOT a "Ronin". They have been assigned an actual governorship of an actual place, that would give them a more legitimate claim to the concept of "Minor Clan" than quite a lot of "Minor Clans" do. But, really, what they would be in such a case would be Imperial vassals. They absolutely would not be categorized with people who got exiled from one of the Great Clans and now have no official duty or job or legitimate method through which they could feed themselves. The same goes if you are so good at crafting blades that your family is granted a promotion and made the official Imperial smiths or if you saved the Emperor's child and are now made the official watchmen of a district of the Imperial City. Those are all legitimate stations for which one is getting paid through legitimate means by legitimate sources in the empire. In fact, they are all perfect examples of exactly what a Vassal really is and not the wonky way in which it was misused later. They aren't part of your family, but they work as servants answering to your family. Those are NOT "Ronin". And it makes no sense whatsoever for Rokugani society to refer to them as such. It is like calling the live-in nanny, maid and butler of the mayor "homeless people" because they nor their parents own or rent the house that they live in. "Ronin" does not mean "neutral", it means "unemployed" and given that it's use is still derogatory within Rokugan, it cannot have been redefined to be "neutral to the Great Clans, employed directly by the Imperials."

Fully in agreement there, the Tsi, and the Yotsu were not ronin in any way and it's still a pretty big stretch to consider the Kaeru as such.

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This can't be adopting a bunch of Ronin because, as I explained above, Ronin are already massively overrepresented in the setting because the very circumstances that created 99% of the Ronin that ever existed in Japan absolutely do not exist in Rokugan given that the setting insisted that there were only 7 clans and for 1000 years there were only ever 7 clans and that number never fluctuated and no daimyo ever rose or fell. So if someone is granted a new unique family name by the emperor, are they then allowed to promote all their favorite ashigaru and servants and merchants to the rank of nobility by adopting them all? Is there a particular grace period in which they are allowed to do that or can they just do that going forward?...

Again, even if you want to consider the overall institution of 7 Great clan as stable, it helps not to think of any of the great clans as in any way monolithic. And the number has flutuated, as the Unicorn were absent for around 800 years. Their return was almost certainly a major upheaval, and probably a catastrophic era for the Lion (which are the poster boys for the clans not being monolithic, stable polities).

 

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Oh, as an aside-- how did this play out in real Japan? Well-- funny thing that-- people were free to just rename themselves whenever they wanted. They could just give themselves whatever new name they felt like, whenever they felt like doing so. In fact, often the same individuals would go by several names during the course of their lives. Now-- if one's relatives were particularly powerful or famous, it is very likely that one wouldn't particularly want to change their name. Also, if one had accomplished a number of impressive feats or participated in important events under one name, they might not want to change it again. However, if one was on the outs with one's family or one's family were peasants or one had really screwed up under their old name or their family had mostly been killed or disgraced or deposed... yeah, one could just go by a new name for no reason other than they just felt like doing so. All they needed to do was just start introducing themselves by and using the new name. Also, if you were the child or possibly other relative to someone with great status who changed their name, you generally went along with it and changed your name too.

So new family names were being made up all the time. There were even cases where two entirely unrelated groups reached considerable fame using the same name, possibly entirely by accident and sometimes with the later simply showing reverence to the former. And there were times when two people would go to war simply because they had both picked the same name and needed to fight to decide who was more deserving of it.

That within Rokugan either the Emperor (or one who speaks on his behalf) or one of the Daimyo has to be the one to grant the family name kind of cleans up this whole system.

I'm not a fan of the naming patterns, be it Personal or Family/Clan used in L5R because they have very little in common with the practices from the inspiration sources, but we actually do have that in Japan. The Uji, as opposed to the Ie, were pretty much created by Imperial decision, and extremely limited in number, 21 IIRC.

If L5R more strictly tied it with something like Court Ranks it would even be a great justification for why someone would seek to be granted Minor Clan status.

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In fact, this would allow continuation of the use of "vassal families". Only the previous use of the term was wildly inappropriate. Somehow most of the origins of "vassal family" were that someone within one of the typical Great Clan families accomplished some great feat or specialized in something interesting, so they were rewarded... by demotion for them and all their relatives. Because vassal means "servant", and this isn't some Japanese word that you can just bend over and redefine however you like because you haven't any respect for the language and it was a gray area to begin with. If they were a vassal, they work for you and are going to be of lower status than your own family. Vassals within Great Clans would almost certainly be Ashigaru or merchants or craftsman or others who showed great service and sacrifice and were thus honored by being made quasi-samurai. It could also be exiles from other clans who ended up siding with them or ronin who showed great service and thus were given a place in the clan, but not as full members.

No, vassal does not mean servant any more than retainer or follower does. BTW samurai does mean servant.

Now, the definitions of vassal families in L5R have always been a bit pants because the process being described is actually the titling, landing or the enfeoffment of a already existing vassal. But it's in no way a demotion. I actually quite liked how Greg Stolze had no problem creating multiple vassals in early L5R without even bothering with mechanical justifications or as Kinzen does it now. I think FFG is doing it better now if the Kaito are anything to go by.

 

 

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14 hours ago, TheHobgoblyn said:

Oh, and, by the way? A third level wizard in basically all additions of D&D can cast about 6 useful spells during a day, none of which creates anything permanent nor would be all that particularly useful in actual employment. The economy of D&D would not be very damaged by a number of wizards running around anymore than the economy of the real world is damaged by us having motorvehicles, computers, and smartphones-- all of which are far more useful in actual productive work than a 3rd level wizard. 

You clearly haven’t mastered any D&D (hey, if you can make assumptions about me like “You aren't very familiar with telling stories, that much in obvious.“ I suppose I also can do them about you)

A wizard with a cantrip like prestidigitation and a spell like disguise self can basically wreak havoc in a market. Imagine hundreds of them loose in the world. I’ve seen players trying to do it: copper pieces turned gold pieces, cristals turned gems... and the master always has to try to come up with solutions to stop those players. In a setting like Pathfinder, you can get rich just making magic daggers at low level... etc. Magic in the world would change it economically at a level we cannot even fathom. But we put up with all of that for the sake of storytelling and having a understandable economy, not having to read a whole book in “magic economics” just to go out there and kill some goblins. 

14 hours ago, TheHobgoblyn said:

You don't tell it in that story. But once you have a story that is taking place from a particular ronin's point of view, it would be good for there to be some details about how that individual ronin became a ronin in the first place. And once you are printing an entire RPG where you invite people to tell stories in your world and also expressly allow people to make ronin characters, you are going to need an explanation as to how in a world where everyone is neatly divided into less than a dozen clans, mainly 7, and everyone born into those clans is eternally a member of those clans and it has always been that way ever since there was an empire, that anyone-- much less many someones-- managed to end up a "samurai" without a master and how exactly they get by-- because once someone plays a ronin character, or the GM wishes to use ronin NPCs, that information is extraordinarily important.

You’re not a very creative DM and need everything outlined for you, I get that. I already gave you a perfectly valid explanation for the existence of ronin. It took me like 1 minute to imagine it. Every DM should be able to do that, adapt the world to what they want to achieve. If you have a ronin player, you’re kind of DM that tells that player “you came from here, because the setting says so”. A good DM tells the player “why are you a ronin?” and don’t let the setting constrain the story of the player. “My PC is a ronin because he was from the Platypus Minor Clan that was wiped out by a Matsu”. Ok, cool, let’s work with that. Instead of frantically looking through all the books and then going “well, there’s no Platypus minor clan, and also minor clans are dumb and there’s no explanation for them, so you can’t”

14 hours ago, TheHobgoblyn said:

You aren't very familiar with telling stories, that much in obvious.

If it has been established that a nation is fighting on 3 fronts, and you have established that they have sent consider amounts of their force to 2 other fronts before this new assault begins-- then it is the opitimi of **** storytelling for you to just completely ignore that and act like they have limitless troops to be everywhere at once.

This isn't "details getting in the way of the story", this is more like you don't comprehend the concept of there being consequences to actions. Actually keeping track of this stops you from telling generic and **** **** stories? GOOD!!

You don’t have to ignore anything if details are left vague. You just say “I had to come to the Northern Border with just a small force of Bushi because we cannot divert more forces from the two war fronts”, and that’s more than enough for the story.  Which is the story of the investigation of Shiba Agawa about the Yobanjin tribe adorers of a Demon-God, that then turns out to be Iuchiban No Oni (wasn’t Iuchiban dead?!!), who just obliterates the whole Phoenix force. The whole point of those Bushi was to die to show the force of those Yonbanjin+Oni. But you want to spend 3 pages of that 4 pages story (every fiction has a word count) with details about the actual distribution of troops and the composition of the Phoenix force, and the training they have... effectively letting no space for the real story, the story that is needed now.

 

15 hours ago, TheHobgoblyn said:

Details do not get in the way. Details allow you to tell a much better story because instead of resorting to the same generic answer over and over again, it presents a chance for the writer to really be creative by presenting opportunities that one probably wouldn't even have thought up otherwise.

Too much details do not get in the way of story? Ok, then I want the exact amount of troops and courtiers every clan has, to the unit. The distribution of said troops, how are they organized, where is every courtier posted, exactly how many soldiers died in every battle, how many were wounded, and the expected recovery time for every wounded. The political relations of every courtier in every court, their friends and enemies.... I’m sure the writers will be thrilled about having to make stories in such a constrained setting.

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18 hours ago, Tabris2k said:

A wizard with a cantrip like prestidigitation and a spell like disguise self can basically wreak havoc in a market. Imagine hundreds of them loose in the world. I’ve seen players trying to do it: copper pieces turned gold pieces, cristals turned gems... and the master always has to try to come up with solutions to stop those players. In a setting like Pathfinder, you can get rich just making magic daggers at low level... etc. Magic in the world would change it economically at a level we cannot even fathom. But we put up with all of that for the sake of storytelling and having a understandable economy, not having to read a whole book in “magic economics” just to go out there and kill some goblins. 

Prestidigitation is a cantrip that lasts only a short time, a few minutes I believe but perhaps there is an edition somewhere that allows it to last up to an hour. The point is, it isn't a permanent alteration of the object. Furthermore, prestidigitation is generally specified to work only on a single sense. This doesn't present any more opportunity to "destroy the economy" than someone printing counterfeit coins or the fact that a thief could sneak around and swipe everyone's gold pouch and the coins from vender's tills.

The solution to that problem, one that every realistic economy and realistic merchant would already be taking with or without magic in the world, is for the kingdom to simply mint its coins with noticeably different sizes and weights. So the Wizard could use his prestidigitation to make the coin look like a different sort of coin, but the very moment that coin is in the merchant's hand they will notice that it feels like it is a different size than it is supposed to, and once it is dropped on the scale the wizard's whole scheme will be dead.

The magic daggers loophole is also a result of you not comprehending basic things. You seem so certain that if a thing exists in the world, then it is infinite and forget and details or consequences. It is not an assumption that you are a bad storyteller, this is the third time you have demonstrate it.

Magic daggers require time, effort and money to create. Whatever one can sell that first magic dagger for, there are only so many people in the world who have any actual use for a magic dagger. It is only because you imagined your customer base to be infinite and that the supplies to make them were infinite and that they would always sell for a set, stated price that you came to the conclusion that it is a loophole to make infinite money.

It is because you ignore the most basic, fundamental details of a functioning fictional world that you end up in this predicament. Imagine if you were an individual trying to sell the greatest Steak Knives in the world, diamond-edged, never need to be sharpened, can cut cleanly through all food. The perfect kitchen knives and you can buy now for only $2000!! No scam, no tricks, no misdirection. These truly are the greatest kitchen knives in the world, and everyone has a kitchen and uses knives-- so that means every last person on the planet would buy them and give you $2000, right?... Why, you should instantly have $15 trillion dollars overnight!!

Except... no. No, you would not. Because not everyone even has a spare $2000, much less is willing to pay that much for whatever marginal advantage that would give over the standard knives they have that they didn't pay even $20 for.

And a magic dagger in the Dungeons and Dragons or Pathfinder world is worth all that much less.
Who exactly is going to be your customer for that? The level 1 adventurers/mercenaries/soldiers are going to have less than 100 spare gold, and most of them aren't even specialized in using daggers-- so they don't want them. To anyone who is level 5 or up? Well, they are in the same position as your own party and to them a +1 dagger is trash.

Maybe some sort of mage guild can pull the magic out of it and use it for something more useful, but it is going to be worth less to them than what you spent making it.

And no merchant is going to buy dozens of them off you when they know that they can't turn around and sell those things at a higher price to someone else.

 

The end result of you producing endless +1 magic daggers is simply going to be that the value of a +1 magic dagger is going to completely collapse to the lowest price point you are willing to sell the things at and you aren't going to be selling all unless you are willing to take a major loss on every one you sell. And, at the same time, the ingredients you need to make the things are just going to keep increasing and increasing as you have bought all of it in the area.

If this is an ongoing world, then maybe the next character you create will have the option to buy a regular dagger for 4 GP or a magic +1 dagger for 8 GP and everyone can tell them the story of how some idiot wizard after selling a single magic dagger at a high price decided to flood the market with thousands in a get-rich-quick scheme and went bankrupt having to sell the things copper pieces on the gold just to get rid of them and now everyone in town has one of the things and use it for mundane tasks. And, you know what? Chances are that even if one has the option of buying a magic dagger for less than the price of a long sword, they will still elect to buy the long sword.

And, no, it doesn't matter that the rulebook says that a magic +1 dagger sells for XYZ-- that was the going price before you came and disrupted the normal flow of business. The rulebook also said the population of this town was ABC, but after you blew up a quarter of it last week, that number is no longer accurate either.

 

Seriously, dude, this is all the more evidence that details do not "get in the way of a good story", but that you only have a good story if you keep the details in mind and if you just ignore all logical consistency for your world, then you end up doing really stupid things that break your fictional reality entirely. All loopholes will disappear once you apply just a bit of intelligence and common sense to the thing and keep in mind that just because things exist in the world, that doesn't mean they are infinite.

 

18 hours ago, Tabris2k said:

You don’t have to ignore anything if details are left vague. You just say “I had to come to the Northern Border with just a small force of Bushi because we cannot divert more forces from the two war fronts”, and that’s more than enough for the story.  Which is the story of the investigation of Shiba Agawa about the Yobanjin tribe adorers of a Demon-God, that then turns out to be Iuchiban No Oni (wasn’t Iuchiban dead?!!), who just obliterates the whole Phoenix force. The whole point of those Bushi was to die to show the force of those Yonbanjin+Oni. But you want to spend 3 pages of that 4 pages story (every fiction has a word count) with details about the actual distribution of troops and the composition of the Phoenix force, and the training they have... effectively letting no space for the real story, the story that is needed now.

 

Too much details do not get in the way of story? Ok, then I want the exact amount of troops and courtiers every clan has, to the unit. The distribution of said troops, how are they organized, where is every courtier posted, exactly how many soldiers died in every battle, how many were wounded, and the expected recovery time for every wounded. The political relations of every courtier in every court, their friends and enemies.... I’m sure the writers will be thrilled about having to make stories in such a constrained setting.

 

And here is the thing... it was your example and your complaint, when trying to use the strawman that I was asking for exact number, amounted to "Well, if we at all keep track of where a Clan's troops are, then it will get in my way of having them have infinite troops to fight full strength on infinite fronts and completely ignore the fact that they might be short on resources."

You were the one who set up your own scenario, came up with the elements and you completely missed the fact that in your own described scenario that you were having the clan at war on two fronts and that might be deeply pertinent to the story if you decide to have them now fighting on a third front. That you flat out said that the way you would tell the story is just to invent a sizable army out of thin air so that they would be putting up a serious fight on this third border and could completely ignore everything else that was going on in the world.

I seriously doubt that you would have even realized that within this scenario you invented, that it was incredibly pertinent to the story that the Phoenix clan would be completely unprepared for any sort of battle and not be able to muster up the troops to fight.

 

You know that that reminds me of? Years ago, there was this show called "Star Trek: Voyager". In this show, there was a starship that was lost far, far away from all other humans and bases and, generally, supplies. They were supposed to be out there for a 1 month mission and ended up on the other side of the galaxy. And you know what? Start of every episode, everything was reset to status quo. In any given episode, the ship could be damaged, have parts of it blown off... perfectly pristine at the beginning of the next episode. They never ran out of any critical supply. They made a half-hearted attempt to say that they had limited number of their most common weapon left, put an actual number on it-- and ignored it, they fired out 3x as many by the end of the show without ever getting more. They had these little mini-ships that they could send out on missions called "shuttlecraft". They were maybe about 1/20th the size of the entire ship. The writers of the show were such lazy hacks that every single time they wanted there to be trouble, they resorted to the exact same trick-- they had one of these mini-ships destroyed or otherwise lost. And they went through more than 20 of the things during the course of the show. And they started off with a stated set number of crew members and it is possible they lost as nearly as many nameless extras from that crew as they had crew in total, but never was there any noticeable depreciation in the number of people onboard.

The result was that the entire premise of the show completely fell flat. It never felt like they were cut-off on the other side of the galaxy, in desperate straits.. because the writers refused to have any functional continuity, refused to keep track of the details, failed to have any consequences to any actions that would disrupt starting next week off with a pristine ship and everything back to status quo. And it sucked.

 

And in the same way, you are asserting that you should ignore all factors in the world and just charge ahead with the same default answer to everything, long after it stops making any sense whatsoever. Never any consequences, never any story elements interacting with each other, everything happening in a vaccuum and neatly returning to the status quo.

You don't need to know how many people exactly there are in the empire, but it is good to know roughly how many are around. And if resources are limited, then you can't have the people in your story wasteful with those resources and have there always be more and no consequences for having been wasteful. If the people in your story are doing A, then you can't have the same individuals also doing B. If you stated that someone was in one location that you previously stated was 1 months journey from a second location, you cannot have them appear in the second location the next day with no explanation for how that happened.

And just because there happens to be something magical in your world, that doesn't mean that a mundane person can drop a mundane spoon to the floor and have it turn into a frog without any explanation and no one batting an eye unless it has been clearly specified that this is somehow part of how magic in this world functions. In fact, the more you have fantastical elements in your world, the more grounded you need to make the non-fantastical parts of it if you want to tell any story with any emotional weight at all. You cannot tell a Tale of Ice & Fire story while allowing your world to follow loose Adventure Time rules.

 

Is it possible to put too much detail in the world? Sure, but only once the only way to convey those details is to make massive lists or try to name or count every last individual, neither of which I at all even implied was necessary. But, on the other hand, you have demonstrated that every problem you encounter in storytelling is directly because you neglect to keep in mind the details and basic common sense in your stories, thus entirely missing the storytelling opportunities when they arise. So are so far on the "nothing matters, its all wonderland and everything is status quo all the time and there are infinite everything!!"-- that as far as you need be concerned, the more detail you get the better.

Edited by TheHobgoblyn

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I thought one of the sources of Ronin were those who just came of age but weren't ready to settle into a role for their family. By being Robin they would avoid embarrassing their family if they messed up and could see the world, get some experience, and return to swear themselves when they were ready. Assuming they didn't die meanwhile. 

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7 minutes ago, Waywardpaladin said:

I thought one of the sources of Ronin were those who just came of age but weren't ready to settle into a role for their family. By being Robin they would avoid embarrassing their family if they messed up and could see the world, get some experience, and return to swear themselves when they were ready. Assuming they didn't die meanwhile. 

You may be thinking of samurai who embark on a musha shugyo or "warrior's pilgrimage". If a samurai--normally, but not always, young--chooses to undertake a musha shugyo, and is given leave to do so by their lord, then they can put aside their relationship to clan and family and travel the Empire, learning new things, living new experiences, etc. They are, indeed, a ronin while on the musha shugyo, but this is a different "type" of ronin. Barring something unusual happening, when they are complete their pilgrimage, they return to full membership in their clan and family. They are essentially temporary ronin during their pilgrimage, so they are unconstrained by duties to their clan, and carry with them none of the political and other baggage a clan samurai bears along with their clan's mon (for example, if their clan happens to be at war with another, they aren't bound by the social and other conventions that apply to clans at war with one another.) So, yes, at any given time, it's likely that some of the ronin wandering around Rokugan are on a musha shugyo, but such cases are rare and wouldn't amount to more than a very small portion of the ronin in the Empire as a whole.

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17 minutes ago, Waywardpaladin said:

I thought one of the sources of Ronin were those who just came of age but weren't ready to settle into a role for their family. By being Robin they would avoid embarrassing their family if they messed up and could see the world, get some experience, and return to swear themselves when they were ready. Assuming they didn't die meanwhile. 

It might make up a minority of Ronin but the only great clans that have a real tradition of get out there and see the World are the Togashi Monks and to a lesser extent the Crab Yasuki merchants and even then they are still doing so as members of the clan.   And notice that Dave just got in there ahead of me with the comment

Edited by Schmoozies
Note that Dave beat me to the punch

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55 minutes ago, DGLaderoute said:

You may be thinking of samurai who embark on a musha shugyo or "warrior's pilgrimage". If a samurai--normally, but not always, young--chooses to undertake a musha shugyo, and is given leave to do so by their lord, then they can put aside their relationship to clan and family and travel the Empire, learning new things, living new experiences, etc. They are, indeed, a ronin while on the musha shugyo, but this is a different "type" of ronin. Barring something unusual happening, when they are complete their pilgrimage, they return to full membership in their clan and family. They are essentially temporary ronin during their pilgrimage, so they are unconstrained by duties to their clan, and carry with them none of the political and other baggage a clan samurai bears along with their clan's mon (for example, if their clan happens to be at war with another, they aren't bound by the social and other conventions that apply to clans at war with one another.) So, yes, at any given time, it's likely that some of the ronin wandering around Rokugan are on a musha shugyo, but such cases are rare and wouldn't amount to more than a very small portion of the ronin in the Empire as a whole.

No, that is more a leave of absence for an established samurai. 

 

From the wiki

"

 

Becoming a Rōnin

Some rōnin were simply the children of rōnin born to their station, while other rōnin were samurai who had forsaken their duty and left their clan. Many samurai voluntarily became rōnin for a single year, typically in the year or the second following their gempuku, as a way to prove themselves, allowing them to sharpen their skills and temper their attitudes with experience. [1] "

 

I just thought it could be longer than a" gap" year but maybe some of them develop a taste for the freedom. 

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I SUSPECT that might be intended to reflect the musha shugyo, but it's a good point; if the new canon has introduced the idea of samurai "taking a year off", kinda like spending a year backpacking around Europe between the end of high school and the start of college, and that's NOT a musha shugyo, then that's a significant thing to know. It would also be extremely unusual for a clan samurai to choose the life of a ronin, but I can certainly see it occasionally happening (yes, I'd rather sleep in the bush and eat scraps, if it means I don't have to take orders!)

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57 minutes ago, Waywardpaladin said:

No, that is more a leave of absence for an established samurai. 

 

From the wiki

"

 

Becoming a Rōnin

Some rōnin were simply the children of rōnin born to their station, while other rōnin were samurai who had forsaken their duty and left their clan. Many samurai voluntarily became rōnin for a single year, typically in the year or the second following their gempuku, as a way to prove themselves, allowing them to sharpen their skills and temper their attitudes with experience. [1] "

 

I just thought it could be longer than a" gap" year but maybe some of them develop a taste for the freedom. 

Only caution I would make here is that the description is based mostly off the RPG beta so may be subject to change soon, but yes could be a hint of the direction they are taking things with the new RPG.

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