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Nheko

Minor Clan naming convention

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Are the Minor Clans only named after normal “mundane” creatures like Snake, Fox, Centipede, and only the Great Clans can be named after “mythical” creatures, like Dragon, Unicorn, Phoenix?

Thought about using Komainu (Lion-dog), for a Minor Clan that will be the protectors of the Naishou Province and it’s myriad of temples but it seems it falls of the naming convention.

Edited by Nheko

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Komainu, also called Shishi, which is the Chinese word for them, or Shisa because that's what people in Okinawa call them and they are sort of the Okinawa symbol and most Japanese seem happy to respect that and use their name for them, are really just lions.

It was just that people in China who made the original statues and started the practice didn't really have proper examples of real lions to model the original statues after and so mostly resorted to using dog physiology to "fill in the gaps" and then that became even more true when the practice spread through Korea and Taiwain and Okinawa and ultimately Japan. The people making the statues just kept making them more-and-more dog like instead of lion-like-- it is like a big game of telephone as they are copies of copies of copies of copies and the artist kept trying to "fix" them by using what they thought was the most accurate model.

All this is important to understand because within Rokugan there apparently are actual Lions. So if they still wanted the cultural practice of having their temples guarded by stone lions, they could make them a lot more lion-like than what was created in real life for the purpose.  There really is no reason they would resort to some lion-dog hybrid thing.

Moreover, as there is a Lion Clan, it is generally agreed that if their name were to be expressed in Japanese and try to use Kanji, instead of "Lion" for which the "Japanese" word doesn't exist and they just borrow the English word, it would probably be expressed as the "Shishi Clan" much like the Unicorn would probably be best expressed as the "Kirin Clan" as there is no Japanese word for Unicorn.

 

Having a Lion Clan school of temple guards (and making it clear that they are NOT for the Shinsei temples, a religion they resoundly reject and are guarded by the Seppun anyway, but for their own ancestor worship shrines and fortune shrines) would probably be a more appropriate use of this idea than a minor clan.

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If you want a clan that might be associated with temples, I would suggest "Crow Clan" or "Raven Clan" (same thing in Japanese) as those birds are kind of associated with temples and parks.

Otherwise, maybe the "Deer Clan" or, if you need it to sound less feminine, the "Stag Clan" because there is a famous temple in Japan where deers are considered the sacred animal around which hunting deer is illegal, so there is a population of hundreds that get fed by visitors.

There is a similar temple dedicated to Foxes, but there is already a Fox Clan. Similar issues exist for the Boar Clan, Tortoise Clan and the Carp Clan (Yasuki are the "Carp" even if not a clan).

And, unfortunately FFG has decided that "Cat Clan" is going to be a ninja clan, because the most famous Japanese folklore about cats is the time a merchant was apparently beckoned into a temple by a cat and then right after he entered, an earthquake happened. The tale is so famous that almost ever shop in Japan, and even Japanese shops overseas (and even some other Asian shops) have a little statue of a cat that waves to customers.

I guess that would make them more associated with merchants though, but that temple angle still exists.

The only other animal I can think of associated strongly with temples would be the Bull-- seeing a bull statue at a temple that is meant to bring good luck if you pet it is also fairly common.

But, well... yes, the Lion Clan would obviously be the absolute best choice for a temple guardian if only they weren't already chosen.

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As a quick note.  When the Clan led by Shinjo was founded, it was called the Ki-Rin Clan.  It's only after centuries travelling the continent, during which time they encountered Unicorns and absorbed foreign ways, that the Clan officially changed its name to Unicorn.  It certainly used to be the case that the Ki-Rin mon had the typically curved horn of the Qilin, whereas the Unicorn has the straight one we're familiar with

image.jpeg.d44a65fda6be79d278dc3f5c30a4cb42.jpegImage result for Unicorn head

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Personally I enjoy using "Mouse clan".  My version of the Mouse clan are easily the best brewers in Rokugan, which often brings them into conflict with jealous great clans..  and yes, I completely stole the idea from "The Mouse That Roared".  However, the associations of "church mouse" and monastic brewing traditions could easily see the clan as Temple guardians/caretakers as well.

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On 11/28/2018 at 3:06 PM, Black_Rabbit_Inle said:

Personally I enjoy using "Mouse clan".  My version of the Mouse clan are easily the best brewers in Rokugan, which often brings them into conflict with jealous great clans..  and yes, I completely stole the idea from "The Mouse That Roared".  However, the associations of "church mouse" and monastic brewing traditions could easily see the clan as Temple guardians/caretakers as well.

 

Hmm.. I think it might be worth noting that in Japanese, here is no distinction between mouse and rat. So a "mouse clan" would equally be a "rat clan". Though East Asians don't have the breadth of the negative image that rats have in the west due to being blamed for the bubonic plague. Instead, they are thought of being lucky, clever animals with good health. It is why they are part of the zodiac.

Really, when I think on it, probably all of the Chinese zodiac animals should be clans in Rokugan. Some of them would be more appropriate than some of the Great Clans we ended up having. You can really tell a person of British person made the setting when he felt the Lion and the Unicorn needed to be major powers in the setting.

Really, if I were to make clans in the setting I would first start with the cardinal direction animals:

Tiger, Phoenix, Turtle and Dragon

Then I would do the remainder of the Zodiac

Rat, Ox, Rabbit, Snake, Horse, Ram, Monkey, Rooster, Dog/Wolf and Boar

After that I might mix in various other animals that are considered kind of holy animals in Japan

Lion, Fox, Bull, Cat, Stag and Kirin

Then maybe a few other iconic animals

Crane, Beetle, Mantis, Tanuki, Bear, Owl, Squirrel, Bat, Badger, Shark, Octopus, Salamander, Frog, Hawk, Raven, Swallow, Sparrow, Crab, Centipede

I might even go with Alligator, Snow Leopard and Red Panda if we were going to include some Chinese influence into the setting.

 

A lot of these ended up being clans in this edition of the game and some of these were even clans in the former edition of the game that haven't made it back in. But there are some here that haven't been clans in either edition and might be worth finding a way to turn into your own ideas.

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Well.. "wolf" I'd avoid (unless redoing everything from scratch, obviously) because of the negative association specific to the Rokugani setting; Ronin are often somewhat derisively referred to as 'Wolf Clan".

I don't believe that has any particular historical basis, but you may trip over something in a sourcebook if you decide to create a wolf clan.

I'm not sure if there's a distinction between 'hound' and 'wolf' in the same way there isn't one between 'mouse' and 'rat' referred to by @TheHobgoblyn

Although, yes, it's kind of odd they didn't start by 'filling out' the zodiac. I think most have been used as minor clans at some point.

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25 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

unless redoing everything from scratch

I'd love to see the clans redone so that there are clear tiers, rather than a dog's breakfast of random entities; celestial creatures and mythological beings for imperial families, animals for great clans, something to differentiate between main families and vassal families (say, birds for the latter), and insects for minor clans. There's just the tiny issue of how much of an upheaval those changes would present.

33 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

I'm not sure if there's a distinction between 'hound' and 'wolf' in the same way there isn't one between 'mouse' and 'rat'

There may not be in Japanese, but in Rokugan they can differentiate between them.

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Wolf and dog use different terms in Japanese.

mouse and rats are the same though, so are crows and ravens and hawks and falcons are too.

I just figure that a "Dog Clan" might not sound as strong as a "Wolf Clan" and, really, the main difference between dogs and wolves is basically just that dogs are domesticated and wolves are wild. So a "Wolf Clan" would still recognizably stand in for the Dog in the zodiac.

Similar to how "Boar Clan" sounds like a much stronger entity than "Pig Clan".

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15 minutes ago, TheHobgoblyn said:

Wolf and dog use different terms in Japanese.

mouse and rats are the same though, so are crows and ravens and hawks and falcons are too.

I just figure that a "Dog Clan" might not sound as strong as a "Wolf Clan" and, really, the main difference between dogs and wolves is basically just that dogs are domesticated and wolves are wild. So a "Wolf Clan" would still recognizably stand in for the Dog in the zodiac.

Similar to how "Boar Clan" sounds like a much stronger entity than "Pig Clan".

I agree, but that's why I'd probably default to 'Hound' rather than 'Dog' if wanting to use it as a Clan name (although you'd then have to deal with any SoIaF or HH fans in the PC group wanting to pretend to be either Sandor Clegane or Macer Varren at inappropriate moments)

The domesticated vs undomesticated is probably part of the reason the wolf label is attached to Ronin; whilst a hunting dog/guard dog/war dog has a recognisably 'loyal' aspect.

Rokugani tend to over-analyse everything looking for subtle cues an context, so given the label 'wolf clan' being used for ronin has enough common currency in the setting that FFG bothered to mention it even in the background-starved beta rulebook, I can't see a putative champion being happy with the label if they had any influence in the matter (and If they didn't it'd probably be taken as a none-to-subtle insult or joke by the establishing Emperor by some people).

Probably the same logic for 'Hare Clan' rather than 'Rabbit Clan' (even though those are even less the same thing than dogs and wolves)

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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If I can jump in late here (just bought the game and joined the forum), the different official ranks in China and Korea throughout history were associated with animals and mythical creatures.  Military officials typically had fierce animals like tigers and leopards whereas civil officials had birds on their uniforms.  And censorial officials who investigated crimes and such had the image of mythical creatures that could detect evil or lies on their uniforms.  It would have made sense for them to do that here, but I know they're dealing with a fantasy setting.

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On 3/10/2019 at 7:28 AM, Masakiyo said:

And censorial officials who investigated crimes and such had the image of mythical creatures that could detect evil or lies on their uniforms. 

Would make sense to include in the regalia of Emerald Magistrates. After all, the Emerald Magistrature is pointedly non-Clan (or every-Clan, depending on your perspective), so a distinct 'style'of heraldry that works with any Clan and Family colour scheme and heraldry would make sense. 

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On 3/11/2019 at 9:06 AM, Chilitoke said:

Fish, there is an odd lack of any water dwelling creatures.

Fish

Toads

the likes

There is a Tortoise clan, right?  If you consider that a turtle, it's close.  Carp would of course make sense, particularly due to their association with dragons in Asia.  I could see a Carp Clan as an offshoot of the Dragon Clan.

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Posted (edited)
On 11/12/2018 at 7:54 PM, Nheko said:

Are the Minor Clans only named after normal “mundane” creatures like Snake, Fox, Centipede, and only the Great Clans can be named after “mythical” creatures, like Dragon, Unicorn, Phoenix?

Short answer is no. Crane, Lion & Scorpion (and sometimes Mantis)? All normal animals. Its true that I can' think of a minor clan named for a mythical animal...but I don't see why you can't have one named after one.

Quote

Thought about using Komainu (Lion-dog), for a Minor Clan that will be the protectors of the Naishou Province and it’s myriad of temples but it seems it falls of the naming convention.

In your own home campaign i think that would be fine. Or Shishi as some have noted. Even if that also kinda means Lion and we have a Great Lion Clan. Our Manticore (uh ... because of all the people from the Spice Islands?!? Or ... ???) 

Edited by Void Crane

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On 3/11/2019 at 11:06 PM, Chilitoke said:

Fish, there is an odd lack of any water dwelling creatures.

Fish

Toads

the likes

 

The Yasuki are basically the "carp" family and the old L5R had a semi-official "Frog" family of merchants, I don't think they have been confirmed as existing yet.

I could kind of get no samurai family picking up any fish except for the Carp/Koi/Goldfish-- because basically any other type of fish would be considered food. Fish names are actually used in Japan when nearly no other animals are, but by people whose ancestors were fishermen. Same with squid and octopus. As such, if peasants in Rokugan got family names I could totally see a bunch of fish based families spring up based on what kind of fish the particular fishermen connected to that family or group specialized in catching.

 

Now, if we were to expand the cultural influence of Rokugan and expand out so there are more island off the coast than just the Mantis ones, I think it would be possible to maybe have a Whale Clan to the northeast of the Phoenix lands and maybe given them some allusions to Hokkaido and/or the Ainu. An volcanic forested island that is famous for its snowy winters and the waters surrounding it are inhabited by whales.

And maybe there could be an island southeast of the Mantis Isles with some mix of Kyushu and Polynesian influences that is known for being warm to hot all year round, whose surrounding waters are inhabited with the most colorful of aquatic life and the appex predator is the shark. There could be a Shark Clan that rules there that would come across as so very uncultured, irresponsible, lazy and superstitious to the mainlanders, but who are basically just used to living in what is a paradise to those who live on the mainland.

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Kraken clan is a clan of pirates from an island off the coast they are even more barbaric than most gaijin and occasionally come to the shores of Rokugan to raid and pillage. Or am I confusing this with some other fantasy setting?

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On 3/19/2019 at 11:08 PM, Black_Rabbit_Inle said:

Kraken clan is a clan of pirates from an island off the coast they are even more barbaric than most gaijin and occasionally come to the shores of Rokugan to raid and pillage. Or am I confusing this with some other fantasy setting?

Your mixing up Kraken and Mantis I'm afraid.

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I There was a Lost Minor Clan in 4E Imperial Archives named Shark. It was designed by @Daigotsu Max if I recall correctly. 

I’m sorry I haven’t revisited this thread in a while, and wanted to thank for al your ideas. In the end I picked up the Lynx, since it symbolizes, the keeper of secrets, which it goes with my original concept.

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