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General Zod

Help understanding Togashi Tattooed Orde

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Hey folks,

  I really need some help.  I don’t understand how to RP or utilize the Togashi monks.  I understand they are “monks” but there seems to be implications that they can serve as courtiers or Bushi.  But past the most basic understanding I don’t get them.  So, I’m hoping that these questions can help my understanding.  Thank you very much for the assist on this folks.

1) How do they actually fit in society?  All their descriptions simply say they hang out in the mountains seeking understanding and enlightenment then occasionally venture forth and offer riddles in court and occasionally fight.

2)  Are they actually Samurai or are they Monks?  My understanding has been they are “monks” but are afforded all the status and respect of being a Samurai.

3) How often do they interact with the world at large and just the Dragon clan?

4) When asked by the clan to go forth and be “useful” do they act as courtiers, yojimbo, other?

 

I’m sure I’m overthinking all of this, but this has been something I’ve never understood since I started L5R.   Thank you very much, again. 

Edited by General Zod
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Don't know how much FFG retconned or changed the world, so I'll stick with the interpretations only from core rulebook:

1) The dragon clan's culture is based on self-betterment for the betterment of society, so they pursue self-enlightenment (in both practical knowledge and spiritual philosophy) to better the world (or at least Rokugan). The Monastery is big due to this culture in their lands, and the monks provide, like any "religious" order, spiritual guidance for many leaders. The importance of spiritual advice is significant, as in Rokugan theological belief actually have direct consequences via magic, kami, and corruption. The stress of Rokuganese culture's consequential turmoil between self identity and societal role is also a significant factor, and the monk's distant position from the world, their supposed separation from worldly values, are appreciated for clarity and discipline.

More in a practical sense the monastery also acts as a way for members of society to have an alternative route in life. Clan members who are in a difficult position, such as a bastard, would go in to the monastery to appease clan relationship. Peasants children from poor families and orphans also fit this category, as well as redeeming criminals. Since the the membership is egalitarian, the monks have variety of perspectives to call on when giving advice.      

In a perfect world, a monk's advices shouldn't be for personal gain, gain of a particular clan/order, or the gain of the monastery, but for the benefit of society as a whole. The advice should result in rulers having clarity and control over their ambitions, and this leads to good intentions and consequences. However, since the order do have a lot of former samurai members from various clans and enlightenment itself is a hard task, in practice this isn't perfect. Also a good advice results in good consequences only if the receiver is humble enough to accept it, and unfortunately many people aren't humble enough to accept the truth.

2) They are monks, and they lost their status as a samurai when they joined the monastery. Technically a samurai do not have to show respect for a monk, but most do due to their position in history and power of their order. This is kind of complex as the monks, generally, do not follow the same structural hierarchy that binds the samurai, and see that all people can seek enlightenment. The game, in the default setting, assumes that you are a samurai from birth, so your character is assumed to be born into the dragon clan and joined the monastery. However, fluff-wise the monastary's membership is egalitarian, so its not far-fetched for a different clan samurai to join the monastery. If you are using the alternative campaign at 306, probably it's not far-fetched for a peasant to be a togashi-monk either.

3) Generally, at least in principle, they give advise to everyone if they feel it's needed, but sometimes that may have disastrous consequences if the receiver takes it the wrong way. Would you die for your advice, or is it better to live and advise later?  Additionally since the principle of the monastery is for individual self-enlightenment (69), they aren't necessary bound to a particular set of actions for said enlightenment. Some monks might just be focused on self-enlightenment, and ignore to enlighten others; others might be helping farmers with their day to day lives, focusing on enlightenment of labour and living.

4) Mostly advisor of a spiritual sense, and they aren't suppose to, in principle, to benefit a party over another. After all this neutrality is why they are picked to give advise on matters. Since the order's position as supernatural warriors, they are also tasked to combat otherworldly threats and problems.  Of course those are all principles, but the game is about the turmoil between honour/glory in practice over principle and the world reflects this. Probably there are monks who are hedonistic pleasure seekers who would gladly use their position to give one an advantage over another, and justify it in their own way.

Also since the relationship between the monastery and clan is complex, as the head of the order is the Dragon Champion, sometimes exceptions are made. One notable example of this is the beginners game character Togashi Yoshi, who isn't a samurai anymore, but was called to the Topaz Championship by the orders of the Dragon Champion.

Hopefully in the world book they will show us the specifics in this edition on what the monks do and the variations of each sects.

 

Edited by HelloRPG

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27 minutes ago, General Zod said:

1) How do they actually fit in society?  All their descriptions simply say they hang out in the mountains seeking understanding and enlightenment then occasionally venture forth and offer riddles in court and occasionally fight.

2)  Are they actually Samurai or are they Monks?  My understanding has been they are “monks” but are afforded all the status and respect of being a Samurai.

3) How often do they interact with the world at large and just the Dragon clan?

4) When asked by the clan to go forth and be “useful” do they act as courtiers, yojimbo, other?

1) they are monks and respected for that. Basically they are to be considered as neutral for main political issue.

2) they are retired samourai but still samourai for the purpose of celestial order. Now they are monks.

3) wisdom of the Tao, when they feel the wisdom is to be provided, and not only for Dragon. Mostly anywhere they elect to go with no official licence to move freely

4) they were samourai with their own training. But mostly they are not to obey any mortals. Several disobeyed and were executed because wisdom was the Truth in front of a Daimyo.

 

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Togashi monks are specifically not retired samurai.  They are 'monks' rather than monks, if that makes sense.  Anyone who manages to go to the High House of Light and persuades the Dragon Clan Champion to let them be tattooed with magic ink (which may literally have the blood of the clan founder in it) becomes a Togashi (of his blood).  At that point they are considered descended from the Kami, and thus part of the Samurai caste.  But they rarely have official positions within the clan hierarchy, hence why, in the fiction, Togashi Mitsu, Yokuni's chosen heir, theoretically reports to Mirumoto Hitomi, the officer in charge of the military expedition.

Thus

1)  Recognised as Samurai caste, but not often in anyone's chain of command.  Their self-driven path to enlightenment can lead them to do all sorts of things for the Clan.

2)  Samurai, but with the mechanics of Monks (kiho).  Other clan monks would be the same, like the Kaito and possibly some Asako in the future.  When being part of a monastic family, they don't give up their rank.

3)  It's very rare.  However, PCs are generally considered to be the sorts of people who do rare things.  Most people will never meet one.

4)  Yes.  It depends on the monk.  I could imagine sending a Togashi to Winter Court in Kyuden Bayushi as a courtier and their own yojimbo combined.

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Take into account that alot of this information has never been stated outright, so this is largely my personal interpretation and handling of the Togashi.

6 hours ago, General Zod said:

Hey folks,

  I really need some help.  I don’t understand how to RP or utilize the Togashi monks.  I understand they are “monks” but there seems to be implications that they can serve as courtiers or Bushi.  But past the most basic understanding I don’t get them.  So, I’m hoping that these questions can help my understanding.  Thank you very much for the assist on this folks.

1) How do they actually fit in society?  All their descriptions simply say they hang out in the mountains seeking understanding and enlightenment then occasionally venture forth and offer riddles in court and occasionally fight.

Ok, on a most basic level monk denotes a specific societal status, specifically that of someone who for some reason, has withdrawn from secular society to pursue spiritual matters, not necessarily an occupation, the same way as samurai or commoner are societal status. Bushi and Courtier are specific ocupations.

So in the same way a samurai could be a bushi or a courtier so could a monk, altough, for a monk, teacher, scribe or scholar would be more likely.

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2)  Are they actually Samurai or are they Monks?  My understanding has been they are “monks” but are afforded all the status and respect of being a Samurai.

Being a monk and a samurai is not necessarily mutually exclusive. Now, by default, and this as varied between editions, the Ise Zumi are not samurai, for that you would have to take the Noble Birth advantage.

The thing is their very learning afford them a modicum of respect above that what you would expect from their social status. Think the status of priests in modern society. They  are supposed have no more privileges or rights than any other citizen, yet they are usually given far more respect. Another example are technical experts in the armed forces, while they don't necessarily have very high service ranks, in regards to their specialty they can often order around higher ranking officer and are given much more leway than equivalent non-skilled ranks. 

Or, you know, social media "influencers"...<_<

There is also the issue that nominally they are the leaders of the Dragon Clan. Take the example of Ankokuji Ekei, he was a monk who, due to his personal relationship with Mori Motonari, ended up leading men and being the foremost advisor and diplomat of the Mori Clan and leveraged that to enter the Toyotomi inner circle and being granted a 60000 Koku fief. Monks from the Ankoku-Ji might be just monks, but do you really want to step on men whose abbot is one of the most powerful lords in the country?

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3) How often do they interact with the world at large and just the Dragon clan?

Not much. The Dragon are reclusive, the Togashi are even more reclusive, and not very numerous on top of that. Having said that, pilgrimages and wondering monks are not stigmatized and are pefectly viable paths for Enlightenment.

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4) When asked by the clan to go forth and be “useful” do they act as courtiers, yojimbo, other?

 

I’m sure I’m overthinking all of this, but this has been something I’ve never understood since I started L5R.   Thank you very much, again. 

My own take is that they act mostly as Diplomats and Spies Information Gatherers. While there is nothing preventing them from being competent warriors their status and ability to move among the lower classes make them much more useful in those roles.

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A simple way to understand them is that they are Samurai Monks.  Samurai serve society in whatever function their lord gives them, and they do it how their lord asks.  Monks are more based on inspiration.  They go where they feel they should be, and teach what they feel to be true.  The Togashi Tattooed Monks are a mix.  They go and do things based on the orders of their Kami delivered through direct, cryptic inspiration.  Because it is cryptic and, in keeping with the Dragon philosophy of doing things your own way they are rarely questioned.  If an Akodo Commander leads his troops to the plans of Toshi Ranbo his chain of command knows, and he must report on it.  If anyone questions the Akodo's actions they can.  If a Dragon Monk is wondering the fields of Toshi Ranbo... well... we respect him as a samurai in that he can go where he wants, and we respect him as a monk in that we don't ask questions...

It would be out of character for a Dragon Monk to exploit their loophole in society for corrupt ends - but its been known to be done.

What might their Kami lord deliver to them as orders?  Let me introduce you to my friend plot convenience...  It can be anything.  They can be tasked with being a body guard, a soldier, informant, teacher, or even simple companion.  The scheme can be as simple as inspiring others to find peace and as complex as becoming an adviser renowned enough to be sought by <x important person> where the Kami's true intent will be revealed.

Edited by shosuko

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I believe Togashi Yoshi's intro story in the beginner's game actually gives a lot of insight. It states the Togashi monks normally don't even bother with gempuku, but Togashi Yokuni secured a spot for Yoshi in the Topaz championship for reasons. Yoshi himself is on the cusp of believing that the Perfect Land sect has merit (there is no meaningful difference between peasant and samurai) and his presence at the Topaz championship kinda proves that's true. After-all, he's a low born orphan and he's passing a noble gempuku ceremony with little difficulty.

Fact of the matter is, the Tattooed Monks usually travel with the Dragon clan's blessing and often because the clan champion said they could or arranged for it personally. Denying them that respect would be an insult against the Dragon clan and a challenge of its authority.

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It seems like even among the community there are different interpretations of them.   Seems like this is a bigger can of worms than I thought.
@llamaman88 thanks for the wiki link.  It really didn't help me out for this question, but it's opened up a lot more understanding about a ton of other Rokugani topics.  Thank you for posting it!

I also appreciate everyone's input into helping me try and understand these guys.

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I know people approach it differently, but for my two cents - They aren't the same as samurai. As a samurai, you respect them personally for their wisdom and politically for their connections, but you aren't held to it by duty or bushido.

Imagine a country's Prime Minister versus a Cardinal of the Catholic Church, for instance. Both wield major and often equal political power, but only one is in the ruling class of a country.

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So as a follow-up: would you then limit Togashi-family characters to only being members of the Order? And would you prohibit any other family from taking the School (e.g. Mirumoto Kiddie studies with the monks, gets tattooed and becomes an Ise Zumi)? In that case, would you give Kiddie the Mirumoto family bonus or the Togashi one?

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I would say yes, because I believe a Mirumoto/Agasha/Kitsuki joining the tattooed order is essentially abandoning their previous life in order to become a Togashi, and they would receive the Togashi family bonuses.

This issue extends to the new Kaito clan school... which I don't think a Shiba/Isawa/Asako would join, but I haven't heard other folk's takes on it.

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27 minutes ago, Hida Jitenno said:

So as a follow-up: would you then limit Togashi-family characters to only being members of the Order? And would you prohibit any other family from taking the School (e.g. Mirumoto Kiddie studies with the monks, gets tattooed and becomes an Ise Zumi)? In that case, would you give Kiddie the Mirumoto family bonus or the Togashi one?

 

19 minutes ago, ExplodingJoe said:

I would say yes, because I believe a Mirumoto/Agasha/Kitsuki joining the tattooed order is essentially abandoning their previous life in order to become a Togashi, and they would receive the Togashi family bonuses.

This issue extends to the new Kaito clan school... which I don't think a Shiba/Isawa/Asako would join, but I haven't heard other folk's takes on it.

Counterpoint to ExplodingJoe, they would keep their original family bonus.  A person can join whenever and the trait bonuses tend to reflect bloodline, focused training, natural skill etc.  
I think it would ultimately fall on the narrative reasoning.  If the Mirumoto that joined was failing his schooling and decided to abandon the Niten school and join the order, they keep their original family bonus.  If an Agashi that was found by a monk at birth and brought to the temple, I'd go with Togashi order.  

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1 hour ago, ExplodingJoe said:

I would say yes, because I believe a Mirumoto/Agasha/Kitsuki joining the tattooed order is essentially abandoning their previous life in order to become a Togashi, and they would receive the Togashi family bonuses.

This issue extends to the new Kaito clan school... which I don't think a Shiba/Isawa/Asako would join, but I haven't heard other folk's takes on it.

In the novel it mentions that the Kaito train other families in their Shrine Keeper school, because there aren't enough Kaito to provide for all the shrines in Phoenix lands on their own.

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I'll offer my take.

1. They kind of don't fit into society. Even within their own clan, they are technically the leadership, but in practice administration falls to the Mirumoto family. Among a clan that embraces individualism, the Togashi exemplify it. They spend their time seeking enlightenment, in what way is appropriate to them.

2. Yes. In all seriousness, they are both. They are the adopted descendants of the Kami Togashi. What honorable samurai can argue against that?

3. As often as there are individual ise zumi whose path to enlightenment involves interacting with the world at large. They are not a large family, and most samurai will likely never encounter one, but everyone will know stories about them.

4. They act to their own strength, I would imagine. One might be a yojimbo for a Kitsuki courtier, another might be the one acting as the representative of the Dragon's interests.

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7 hours ago, Hida Jitenno said:

So as a follow-up: would you then limit Togashi-family characters to only being members of the Order? And would you prohibit any other family from taking the School (e.g. Mirumoto Kiddie studies with the monks, gets tattooed and becomes an Ise Zumi)? In that case, would you give Kiddie the Mirumoto family bonus or the Togashi one?

In the old lore Mirumoto Hitomi (and this long before the 2nd Day of Thunder) and Agasha Tamori had mystic tattoos, without being members of the order. Meanwhile Togashi Yoshi, who was part of the Order and a Kolat, did not have tattoos until after Hitomi became the Dragon Champion.

So I could conceivably allow non-Ise Zumi to get tattoos with an appropriate justification. I wouldn't have any problem allowing nominal members of the Order to take training in other schools, either because they joined later in life after training in other schools or because their superiors sent them to train in those schools.

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8 hours ago, Suzume Chikahisa said:

So I could conceivably allow non-Ise Zumi to get tattoos with an appropriate justification. I wouldn't have any problem allowing nominal members of the Order to take training in other schools, either because they joined later in life after training in other schools or because their superiors sent them to train in those schools.

Didn't the old Way of the Dragon book have an advantage where you had an Ise Zumi tattoo?

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8 hours ago, Suzume Chikahisa said:

In the old lore Mirumoto Hitomi (and this long before the 2nd Day of Thunder) and Agasha Tamori had mystic tattoos, without being members of the order. Meanwhile Togashi Yoshi, who was part of the Order and a Kolat, did not have tattoos until after Hitomi became the Dragon Champion.

So I could conceivably allow non-Ise Zumi to get tattoos with an appropriate justification. I wouldn't have any problem allowing nominal members of the Order to take training in other schools, either because they joined later in life after training in other schools or because their superiors sent them to train in those schools.

There was a Crane that received a mystical tattoo also

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The Togashi monk, assuming no change to who Togashi-hidenka is, that is to say, the family daimyō is till Togashi-kami masquerading as a younger Togashi...

The Togashi monks are literally his eyes and ears on the spot. Since the Togashi school ability shows Togashi-hidenka has a telepathic link with every Togashi monk (at least those with their tattoos). Togashi monks are sent out to be the eyes and ears, watching the events of the world for Togashi-hidenka.  And every so often, Togashi-hidenka whispers in an ear to protect rokugan or the Dragon clan.

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3 hours ago, Hida Jitenno said:

And a Crab.

Don't forget about Yasuki Garou.

Hitomi was into Blood Magic sharing.
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I believe Hitomi Hogai was originally a Crab.

4 hours ago, ExplodingJoe said:

Didn't the old Way of the Dragon book have an advantage where you had an Ise Zumi tattoo?

No, but Ise Zumi ciuld get up to two additional tattoos for 8 points each at character creation,  and any Dragon character could get one through heritage table rolls.

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On 10/17/2018 at 3:19 AM, Suzume Chikahisa said:

No, but Ise Zumi could get up to two additional tattoos for 8 points each at character creation,  and any Dragon character could get one through heritage table rolls.

There is actually a sidebar outlining the requirements for taking a tattoo when you're not a Togashi. This did not involve heritage rolls. It was prohibitively expensive, requiring allies, karmic ties, plus a story that would blow the GM's socks off - and if you could manage being the daimyo of the Agasha or Mirumoto, that would be cool, too, but even they didn't get a full pass. Then it cost 12CP. If the GM was not satisfied, the suggestion was still to say 'no'.

 

1) They kind of don't fit into society. If not outright revelling in that social friction, then at least they use it for their own learning.

2)  From the time they were fully introduced in roleplaying mechanics, Togashi have had the potential to be samurai - to bear the blood of noble birth. I would say they have also always had the potential to be monks. However, Rokugani culture has long stated that asking a monk their previous life is a breach of etiquette - meaning unless they tell you they are not a monk, you don't know when to treat a Togashi as anything less than a samurai.

'Tattooed Wanderer' has been my favourite name for them since FFG coined the term. It avoids calling them anything outright, other than what they are and how those the empire notices behave.

l5c01_tattooed_wanderer.png

3) Rarely. They're the smallest family of the smallest great clan, numbering in the hundreds, and most never leave the mountains.

4) Most often they are not given orders from outside the Togashi, but provided context and allowed to offer aid where they will.

Edited by BitRunr

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That "sidebar" BitRunr mentions is on two pages, and specifies a minimum cost of 17 CP:
5+ of Allies or 5+ of Kharmic Tie, either or both to the Dragon Clan
12 points per tattoo. 

Note that 1E only gave 25, and you could only take 10 more; no starting character's trait nor skill could be raised by more than 2 from Clan/Family/School baseline, and traits were 8 per, void ring 12 per, and skills 1 per rank. So, of 35 point spend a tattoo was a minimum of 17 & a great story...

However, the heritage tables in 1E DO allow an 8 point tat for dragon characters who rolled an 8 on the fortune table (and that roll costs 4)..

Or a 1 point roll on the heritage table, needing (7…10) then (1…2); makes one a child of a Togashi, gives one tat free.

See Way of the Dragon, pages 49-51.

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Yup. Still, this one is available outside the Dragon. Really hammers in being quite selective in how you allow it, and comes to a total of its own devising at 22CP. (p23) ie; you should throw every requirement at the player, rather than making it an easy choice.

Edited by BitRunr

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