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drbraininajar

Samurai, Shugenja, and Blood

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What are the exact rules and strictures on coming into contact with blood for samurai, and is it true that shugenja are forbidden from shedding blood?

Does this apply to medics/apothecaries, and are Rokugani healers constantly ducking away to a shrine to cleanse themselves?

Just some minor lore stuff I wanted to be clear about, cuz the fluff in the core book super isnt.

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4 minutes ago, drbraininajar said:

What are the exact rules and strictures on coming into contact with blood for samurai, and is it true that shugenja are forbidden from shedding blood?

Does this apply to medics/apothecaries, and are Rokugani healers constantly ducking away to a shrine to cleanse themselves?

Just some minor lore stuff I wanted to be clear about, cuz the fluff in the core book super isnt.

Samurai can't come in contact with DEAD FLESH, not blood. Blood is kosher. Funnily enough, they're also totally okay with making the flesh dead in the first place.

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33 minutes ago, JBento said:

Samurai can't come in contact with DEAD FLESH, not blood. Blood is kosher. Funnily enough, they're also totally okay with making the flesh dead in the first place.

its about "cleanliness". more like, if you take care of dead bodies, you'll get whatever kind of disease. me ? i'm above that.

remember samurai is a few hundred years ago !

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17 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

Honestly, I'm waiting for Emerald Empire to get a better idea of the setting FFG envisions. Things are not always quite the same as in previous editions.

one thing right now that i'm really hoping for is "duel etiquette".

like, can your 80 glory samurai really challenge an old crippled  shugenja on the battlefield (a clash, as per the rule, during skirmishes) and the poor sob have to accept ? i mean... there should be ways that characters can refuse without losing anything simply because it doesnt make sense for them/their station to even do that duel.

though, as per the rule, nothing forbid your samurai from throwing a challenge to a random ashigaru on the battlefield and him losing glory, and you gaining void point when he refuse.

something is off. a "challenge", especially right on a battlefield, should be between two relatively equal persons (2 shugenjas, 2 medium honor samurai, etc) if you want to challenge a HIGHER person (example, your lowlife samurai challenge a daimyo, then sure... good luck. 

 

a challenge in "court" is different, as it is widely accepted that it doesnt take place right away and the challenged person can find a "champion" etc.

 

I just have a problem with challenging much lower than you, as clash on the battlefield. seems like no rules define that.

Edited by Avatar111

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5 minutes ago, Avatar111 said:

one thing right now that i'm really hoping for is "duel etiquette".

like, can your 80 glory samurai really challenge an old crippled  shugenja on the battlefield (a clash, as per the rule, during skirmishes) and the poor sob have to accept ? i mean... there should be ways that characters can refuse without losing anything simply because it doesnt make sense for them/their station to even do that duel.

though, as per the rule, nothing forbid your samurai from throwing a challenge to a random ashigaru on the battlefield and him losing glory, and you gaining void point when he refuse.

something is off. a "challenge", especially right on a battlefield, should be between to relatively equal persons (2 shugenjas, 2 medium honor samurai, etc) if you want to challenge a HIGHER person (example, your lowlife samurai challenge a daimyo, then sure... good luck. 

 

I just have a problem with challenging much lower than you. seems like no rules define that.

Social effects will remain somewhat nebulous in many cases, I expect. Nonetheless, dueling etiquette is certainly important enough to warrant clarification. The general comportment of and towards shugenja on the battlefield probably as well, for that matter. So many things, really.

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2 minutes ago, drbraininajar said:

So what about Shugenja? Are they actually forbidden from shedding blood? Or just from killing animals?

I don't think there's a general prohibition against it, but many shugenja schools are supposed to be famously pacifistic.

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There are always rules and exceptions.  The rule is that dead things are unclean.  There are a number of reasons for this to be true, but to keep things simple lets just postulate that touching dead things makes you "unclean."  You become clean again by performing cleansing rituals.

Page 212 Cleansing Rite - Removes Afflicted condition.

Page 271 Afflicted - Basically otherworldly forces are acting against you.  Without taking care of it this can lead to spiritual corruption.

Touching dead things, or unclean things can leave you open to becoming Afflicted.

Now do Shugenja shed blood?  Well, they don't swing swords... but a quick read through the invocations ruins the concept that Shugenja are peaceful.  That said the Shugenja typically draw their power from the Kami.  The Kami can quickly be replaced by the Kansen without the Shugenja meaning it...  A little corruption can become a BIG problem so a Shugenja should be much more attentive not just to cleansing but to avoiding things which could corrupt them.  I would imagine a bushi wouldn't mind being covered in blood, or even wading through corpses on the battlefield... but a Shugenja would certainly be concerned about these things.

I don't know if the Core book goes over Kansen but I know it mentions them in the Afflicted condition.  Kansen are basically like Kami except they give more power in exchange for a more real sacrifice.  They'll give the power up front to lure the Shugenja into darker deals down the road.  While the Kami are typically cajoled into action via rituals and incantations the Kansen are quicker to respond to some bloodshed.

http://l5r.wikia.com/wiki/Kansen

Edited by shosuko

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9 minutes ago, shosuko said:

Now do Shugenja shed blood?  Well, they don't swing swords... but a quick read through the invocations ruins the concept that Shugenja are peaceful. 

You can burninate all manner of beasts and monsters and still be a pacifist.

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6 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

You can burninate all manner of beasts and monsters and still be a pacifist.

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make... but Shugenja don't just dwell on the southern wall...

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1 minute ago, shosuko said:

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make... but Shugenja don't just dwell on the southern wall...

The only point I'm making is that having access to, or even actually knowing how to use, Invocations that can be used to kill others doesn't preclude being a pacifist.

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3 minutes ago, nameless ronin said:

The only point I'm making is that having access to, or even actually knowing how to use, Invocations that can be used to kill others doesn't preclude being a pacifist.

Sure it doesn't... but is this a rule or an exception to a rule?  Are Shugenja wholly pacifist with them perhaps grudgingly learning offensive invocations for use primarily against some unholy army?  Or are they learning these as a basic part of their studies and perfectly willing to use them on the battlefield?

Maybe I could phrase it:  When a player says "I want to be a Shugenja" do you think they mean "I want to be a pacifist," or "I want to cast spells?"

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8 minutes ago, shosuko said:

Sure it doesn't... but is this a rule or an exception to a rule?  Are Shugenja wholly pacifist with them perhaps grudgingly learning offensive invocations for use primarily against some unholy army?  Or are they learning these as a basic part of their studies and perfectly willing to use them on the battlefield?

Maybe I could phrase it:  When a player says "I want to be a Shugenja" do you think they mean "I want to be a pacifist," or "I want to cast spells?"

This isn't about what a player might or might not want though. The question asked was simply: is spilling blood proscribed for Shugenja?

As far as I know it's not as a general rule, but many shugenja - individually or because their school teaches it - strictly refrain from doing so anyway. Yet they might still know Invocations that could be used to kill others.

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I would point out not all shugenja are pacificists, or even eschew swords.  Isawa Tsuke, the Elemental Master of Fire during the current timeline was known to be a skilled swordsman and duelist.  He's not the first or the last shugenja to have been mentioned as having notable swordsmanship skills.  Also, any shugenja acting as a healer on/near a battlefield probably comes into contact with blood as well.  I think it's okay as long as the shugenja follow certain protocols/rituals to purify themselves afterward.

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My opinion on it is that your average shugenja is pretty leary of blood for many good reasons.  It's not necessarily forbidden to all but, in particular reference to the BB, the Asahina family of Crane shugenja have basically sworn to pacifism and I'm pretty sure they're forbidden to shed blood.

That said, there's a sort of gradient from Crane to Crab - below is the stereotype from my point of view, but PCs are special

  • Asahina (Crane) - sworn pacifists
  • Kitsu (Lion) - tend towards supporting roles in battle, like movement and healing
  • Yogo (Scorpion) - all about opposing dark forces, and likely to know the bad things that can happen
  • Agasha (Dragon) - more likely to buff their allies to do stuff than go at it personally
  • Isawa (Phoenix) - generally peaceful, but if you push them, they don't hold back
  • Soshi (Scorpion) - sneaky and social, but can be assassins
  • Iuchi (Unicorn) - less fussy with Rokugani norms, and have members known to be involved in armies
  • Kuni (Crab) - known to do autopsies, even on Shadowlands beasts

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17 hours ago, Waywardpaladin said:

In the novella the spirits shy away from blood. Spilling blood in a shrine desecrates it. Spirits don't like shugenja that smell of blood but kansen will want to be your friends. 

This is the reason given for the the hunting thing too.  Touching blood affects you negatively until you are cleansed.  It impacts samurai left, but the implication is if you go for too long after touching dead flesh or blood, your spirit could be negatively impacted.

Also, there are always Kuni resident on the southern wall.

As for duels on the battle field.  To some extent, Shugenja aren't front-line troops usually.  If they are, they are probably armed, and if they are armed, you can definitely duel them.  Typically Shugenja and Courtiers don't carry around katana, just either nothing, or their wakazashi.  The accepted practice is that if you carry a katana, you will fight your own duels.  If not, you can get someone to champion you.  It is one of the reasons why Shugenja and Courtiers have a yojimbo when travelling.  I think however, if you find an enemy shugenja on the battlefield, you could just kill them or at least knock them out of the fight, rather than fight the duel.  However, given that Shugenja are rare and valued members of a clan, you usually don't want to risk them in just normal skirmishes.

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7 minutes ago, Mirith said:

This is the reason given for the the hunting thing too.  Touching blood affects you negatively until you are cleansed.  It impacts samurai left, but the implication is if you go for too long after touching dead flesh or blood, your spirit could be negatively impacted.

Also, there are always Kuni resident on the southern wall.

As for duels on the battle field.  To some extent, Shugenja aren't front-line troops usually.  If they are, they are probably armed, and if they are armed, you can definitely duel them.  Typically Shugenja and Courtiers don't carry around katana, just either nothing, or their wakazashi.  The accepted practice is that if you carry a katana, you will fight your own duels.  If not, you can get someone to champion you.  It is one of the reasons why Shugenja and Courtiers have a yojimbo when travelling.  I think however, if you find an enemy shugenja on the battlefield, you could just kill them or at least knock them out of the fight, rather than fight the duel.  However, given that Shugenja are rare and valued members of a clan, you usually don't want to risk them in just normal skirmishes.

So you wouldnt allow a player to use a challenge action on an shugenja armed with a staff in a skirmish?

I also wouldnt, i just would have like to get a sidebar that explain who and what can be challenged and suffer "shame" for refusing during a skirmish.

But the l5r narrative logic is good enough. Ill explain that to my players.

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4 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

So you wouldnt allow a player to use a challenge action on an shugenja armed with a staff in a skirmish?

I also wouldnt, i just would have like to get a sidebar that explain who and what can be challenged and suffer "shame" for refusing during a skirmish.

But the l5r narrative logic is good enough. Ill explain that to my players.

You challenge the shugenja and his yojimbo has to step forward and answer. 

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5 hours ago, Tonbo Karasu said:

Isawa (Phoenix) - generally peaceful, but if you push them, they don't hold back

This is only somewhat true.  The Isawa are the only family to have entire units of combat trained shugenja in the form of the Elemental Guard.  These are entire military units of shugenja trained solely to ensure the Phoenix have the most potent magics on the battlefield.  Each unit guard unit was named based on their elemental affinity:  Firestorm Legion, Avalanche Guard, Hurricane Initiates, Tsunami Legion and the rumored Void Guard.

Edited by TalosX

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Essentially, if you challenge someone you shouldn't, you lose the honor and glory just as if you'd lost... and they don't gain nor lose any by refusing... and, should you still cut them down, murderer is your new infamy. Or you wait for their champion... at their convenience. 

On the battlefield, you don't challenge a shugenja - he can happy-zap you just as easily in a duel as out, and need not wait for compromised target. 

Probably the worst humiliation possible is the Shugenja stops you in place for the rest of the scene, steps out of range, and walks away. If you don't kill shugenja-shi right off, they can do far worse than kill you. Humiliation is a major cause of seppuku and/or jigai, even today (currently, IRL, it's outlawed, but still happens... even 130 years after Meiji-heika banned it and disbanded the samurai caste). 

Challenging a monk? if he's armed with a bō, it's likely a fair fight, but it's a breach of the "lesser virtue" of piety. Monks are holy men. Even when they're total *-heads. Some kami favor them, for if not, then they would starve. Plus, kihō are freaking dangerous.

And, if they are on the battlefield without yōjimbo, they are essentially acting as warriors, to live or die as warriors on that day. Warriors who can defeat you showily and publicly and prevent you from dying at the same time...

And, both in the Clan War game and in 3E, units of shugenja were part of the army lists. 

So also units of Togashi Ise Zumi. There's a force of weirdness.

I'm wondering how long until a new L5R minis game hits....

 

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9 minutes ago, AK_Aramis said:

Challenging a monk? if he's armed with a bō, it's likely a fair fight, but it's a breach of the "lesser virtue" of piety. Monks are holy men. Even when they're total *-heads. Some kami favor them, for if not, then they would starve. Plus, kihō are freaking dangerous.

If that monk is on the battlefield, he's fair game. The rest I agree with.

Regardless, people don't just challenge randos for no reason. And if they do so anyway, this could be rebuffed or ignored without negative effect. You need some kind of pretext to make a challenge stick. If you're in the midst of a pitched battle you can make some kind of case for calling someone out to fight you one on one, but what are you going to do if they refuse? 

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4 hours ago, TalosX said:

This is only somewhat true.  The Isawa are the only family to have entire units of combat trained shugenja in the form of the Elemental Guard.  These are entire military units of shugenja trained solely to ensure the Phoenix have the most potent magics on the battlefield.  Each unit guard unit was named based on their elemental affinity:  Firestorm Legion, Avalanche Guard, Hurricane Initiates, Tsunami Legion and the rumored Void Guard.

Yes, but they're not the average member of the clan and, even then, the Elemental Guard are the weapon of last resort - they leave the first line of defense to the Shiba.

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