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Horiuchi Daimyo

Please may I have an Idiots' Guide to l5r lore

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You got it! The Unicorn are the plucky rebels. They spent 800ish years exploring the world, returning to the empire with strange customs and super curvy swords. The more traditional clans have problems accepting them as the Unicorn have little desire to conform to the Empire's culture. 

In events thus far Unicorn Champion Shinjo Altansarnai broke off a marriage treaty with the Lion Clan. For reasons... (She didn't want to change her name, and the prior wife of her Lion intended threatened to kill herself.) Unicorn name magic "Meshido" is being studied, but not banned, by the Emperor's shugenja as the Phoenix think its really bad juju. And after skirmishing over a border village for a bit, the Lion are ready to declare all out war! Also they discovered the Naga but I'm sure that won't really be important ;) 

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On 11/27/2018 at 9:27 PM, Horiuchi Daimyo said:

I'm fairly new to the new lore, could someone catch me up? (Unicorn is what I'm interested in the most)

I actually wrote one of these. It's still a pretty long read, at 3200 words? But that's a LOT less than 180,000 words.

http://www.cardboardrepublic.com/articles/dave-of-the-five-rings/dotr-chapter-thirty-two

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28 minutes ago, Eisenmerc said:

In events thus far Unicorn Champion Shinjo Altansarnai broke off a marriage treaty with the Lion Clan. For reasons... (She didn't want to change her name, and the prior wife of her Lion intended threatened to kill herself.) 

Just for the record there was a little more than the changing name thing as it meant she as Unicorn Champion and Shinjo Daimyo (leader of the family) would have had to resign her positions and marry a vassal family (even if they are one of the oldest and most powerful) of the Lion Champion.  Coupled with the threat from the current wife of the Ikoma Daimyo who was ordered to set her aside so that the Lion could arrange the new marriage it was too much for the compassionate Unicorn champion to accept.

The failed marriage is what set off the border skirmish over Hisu Mori Torride (a border fortress that was ceded to the Lion as part of the marriage agreement) and is looking like it will escalate into full on war very soon.

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Shinjo Altansarnai is a selfish, pathetic woman who dishonored and humiliated herself and her Clan by breaking her word before the entire Empire. She could not bring herself to do her duty because of her personal feelings. She rationalized her behavior by bravado, goading the largest military in Rokugan into war, and putting the lives of her retainers at the disposal of her emotional whims.

Fortunately for the Unicorn Clan, her son and heir Shinjo Shono is a virtuous man who is scandalized by his mother’s reckless selfishness. The same treaties that would have seen Altansarnai marry the Ikoma daimyo would have secured Shono’s marriage to a Matsu battlemaiden, whom he actually loved (very rare for samurai marriages). Because of his mother’s dishonor, Shono had to fight and slay his own love on the battlefield. He did his duty without hesitation.

Edited by Manchu

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3 hours ago, Manchu said:

Shinjo Altansarnai is a selfish, pathetic woman who dishonored and humiliated herself and her Clan by breaking her word before the entire Empire. She could not bring herself to do her duty because of her personal feelings. She rationalized her behavior by bravado, goading the largest military in Rokugan into war, and putting the lives of her retainers at the disposal of her emotional whims.

Fortunately for the Unicorn Clan, her son and heir Shinjo Shono is a virtuous man who is scandalized by his mother’s reckless selfishness. The same treaties that would have seen Altansarnai marry the Ikoma daimyo would have secured Shono’s marriage to a Matsu battlemaiden, whom he actually loved (very rare for samurai marriages). Because of his mother’s dishonor, Shono had to fight and slay his own love on the battlefield. He did his duty without hesitation.

Or as Manchu's likes to overlook the fact that the Lion dictated terms for the marriage that would not have been out of place if they had won a war versus the Unicorn rather than trying to reconcile the differences between the two clans left the choice to follow through with the arrangement too much for Altransarnai to accept.  Even more so when faced with the reality that fulfilling her "duty" as he puts it would have lead to the suicide of the current wife of the Ikoma Daimyo in shame over being set aside for her.  Too the Unicorn who believe that all lives are too precious to waste on pointless sacrifices it was too much of a dishonor to continue.  Literally the entire deal was the Lion slapping the Unicorn in the face taking everything and not actually giving anything in return. 

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If the deal was so terrible for Unicorn then why did Altansarnai accept it in the first place?

That would make her a moron.

At this point in the argument, we are told that the Ikoma emissaries somehow managed to hide openly known information about their marriage customs from the Ide diplomats.

And that would make them morons and Altansarnai a moron for relying on them.

But the truth of the situation is of course much less dramatic than an entire family abjectly failing at their specialization. Quite simply, only one person failed - Altansarnai herself. The Ide skillfully negotiated a deal that the Unicorn Champion endorsed as the appropriate result of their efforts. But she could not bring herself to set aside her lover and follow through with her duty.

This is not some anti-Unicorn Lion perspective. Her own son and heir privately scolds her for her dishonorable behavior and motives.

Edited by Manchu

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Regarding Kakita Yoshi, the Imperial Chancellor ... just keep in mind that the authors sometimes portray a character unsympathetically in order to better reflect the experience of the main character of the story. In such a case, try not to fall into the simplistic notion that said unsympathetic portrayal is all there is to that character. Bearing in mind the example of Altansarnai, the reverse is equally true: a character portrayed sympathetically is not necessarily acting correctly.

Edited by Manchu

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8 hours ago, Manchu said:

 But she could not bring herself to set aside her lover and follow through with her duty.

Very, very little indicates that this was her primary motivation for breaking the agreement. It came across more as a matter of pride- cultural and personal.

 

 

And Kakita Yoshi is a fool.

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Unicorn culture is no excuse. They have been back for 200 years. And regardless of their wandering, they still are samurai, after all, and not actual foreigners. Unicorn samurai, no less than any other, must cherish duty above their personal emotions. It is one thing, a quaint but merely irritating thing, to shake hands but it is quite another to demonstrate that your solemn promise as leader of a Great Clan amounts to a dishonorable lie.

It might be argued that, for Altansarnai, her “freedom” is the thing she could not bring to set aside for the sake of her honor and the honor of the Unicorn Clan. But this only amounts to a euphemism for selfishness. Wanting to keep her lover is certainly one of the principal elements of her selfishness, as evinced not only by her own inner thoughts but also the narrative structure of contrasting her decision against Shono’s when he is able to confront and even slay his own lover in battle.

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On 12/2/2018 at 11:30 AM, Ishi Tonu said:

Yay!  I asked Santa for a Schmanchunichi and it looks like Christmas came early this year.

Hey I've put one correction up on Manchu and then I'm staying out like I was asked in the past so as not to derail entire threads.  I also make it a point to separate in character speak from general answers to questions.

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I think the most interesting thing going on with the Unicorn right now is Shahai's story.

The Phoenix are convinced that the weird magic that the Unicorn brought into the empire from outside is evil and the cause of their magic not working quite right recently (relatively recently, it isn't clear how long it has been going on since it was more of a gradual process than a sudden one).

They have accused the Unicorn of playing with demonic spirits to do magic.

The Seppun pretty rationally decided to just have the best student of that magic, Iuchi Shahai, come and teach the top Seppun shugenja (it is worth noting that the Seppun are as much a shugenja family as any other shugenja family in the empire despite the fact we only ever see them as guards and magistrates) how meishido works. After all, the Phoenix are already prejudice so the only neutral arbiters on the matter that can be relied on are the imperial shugenja.

Unfortunately, Shahai has got it into her head that teaching the imperials is somehow an unforgivable betrayal of her clan (and it seems her father agrees? weird) and it absolutely suicidal over this breach of edict. And was just about to plunge a knife into herself and end it all when she met the "good" prince (but long-time fans of the setting know he is the very character that destroyed the setting the first go-around and Shahai was his evil and twisted wife) and has totally fallen for him. To the point that she has dark and twisted thoughts about any other girl she sees talking to him, and it seems he is into her as well... but he also doesn't know that he has been chosen to be heir rather than his far more obviously bratty and immature "bad" older brother.

Edited by TheHobgoblyn

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I mean, even if we assume that the old setting will carry over in regards to the two brothers and their eventual fates, a metric by which neither brother could be considered "good" in a moral sense, it still leaves us with the "good" (competent) heir vs the "bad" (incompetent) one.

I'd rather take competent evil over incompetent; at least the competent one might have a reason for torturing me to death other than "4 de lolz".

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21 hours ago, UnitOmega said:

What about Courtesy, Sincerity, Righteousness, Courage and Compassion?

Left at the door with Integrity, a loooooooonnnnnggggggg time ago. 

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It's also worth noting that the Unicorn have standing trading relationships and holdings outside Rokugan. The territories referred to sound like they have an Arabic, although we've not seen much of them except names. The new Unicorn Novella is supposedly going to show them in more depth.

 

On ‎12‎/‎3‎/‎2018 at 6:00 PM, TheHobgoblyn said:

I think the most interesting thing going on with the Unicorn right now is Shahai's story.

The Phoenix are convinced that the weird magic that the Unicorn brought into the empire from outside is evil and the cause of their magic not working quite right recently (relatively recently, it isn't clear how long it has been going on since it was more of a gradual process than a sudden one).

They have accused the Unicorn of playing with demonic spirits to do magic.

The Seppun pretty rationally decided to just have the best student of that magic, Iuchi Shahai, come and teach the top Seppun shugenja (it is worth noting that the Seppun are as much a shugenja family as any other shugenja family in the empire despite the fact we only ever see them as guards and magistrates) how meishido works. After all, the Phoenix are already prejudice so the only neutral arbiters on the matter that can be relied on are the imperial shugenja.

It's a pretty logical response. The Seppun are, ultimately, pretty pragmatic; "we don't need to know all your dirty secrets as long as we know how to stop your techniques - magical or martial - threatening the emperor"

Note that the Seppun Hidden Guard are also supposedly noticing problems with invoking the Kami now. Whether it's just a global disruption that the Isawa Elemental Masters noticed 'first' because....well...Elemental Masters that's now significant enough for the Seppun Shujenga to spot, or whether Iuchi Shahai's Meishodo is actually messing with things, or whether there's something to the Elemental Master of Void's vision of something inside a Meishodo talisman (which he took to mean 'all meishodo involves dark magic' but could just mean a Djinn snuck into the city by hiding inside that specific talisman), we don't yet know.

 

 

On ‎12‎/‎2‎/‎2018 at 2:44 PM, Shiba Gunichi said:

Very, very little indicates that this was her primary motivation for breaking the agreement. It came across more as a matter of pride- cultural and personal.

To be honest, even the "Renounce Your Champion Status" was something she was (through gritted teeth) accepting at the start of Curved Blades, even if a lot of her inner circle were angry about it. The straw that broke the camels back was discovering the man was already married - and happily so - and the destruction of that was being left on the Unicorn's hands if they followed through.

I agree that after two hundred years, not being aware of the traditions of a family that you're negotiating a marriage treaty with is, by comparison, weird, especially since the negotiations have apparently taken three years. You have to wonder how "who's marrying whom" didn't come up early enough to be addressed.

By comparison - since it's a purely political marriage with an 'enemy nation', not knowing the prospective groom is oddly kind of normal, and not asking if he's married (because it's quite reasonable from a Unicorn mindset to assume someone offered for marriage isn't already married) is therefore not unreasonable.

 

On ‎12‎/‎2‎/‎2018 at 6:30 AM, Manchu said:

Bearing in mind the example of Altansarnai, the reverse is equally true: a character portrayed sympathetically is not necessarily acting correctly.

Also true. But bear in mind most of all; "Correctly" - completely in accordance with Bushido - is generally impossible. Every meaningful choice tends to violate one or more tenets (otherwise it wouldn't be a meaningful choice), but different clans have very different views on which tenet supersedes others - should you violate Sincerity in the name of Compassion? Courtesy in the name of Honour? Every clan has its own order of priority, none of which are precisely 'right' or 'wrong'.

 

 

To be honest, the main problem here isn't the Lion clan (as a whole entity) or the Unicorn, but (to me) the nastier parts of the Ikoma family specifically. "We previously invaded your territory until you kicked us out and Hantei XXII told us to stop trying to invade it again" is not a 'historical claim', but I'm damned sure Ikoma Ujiaki doesn't phrase it like that.

Whilst the bulk of the Lion are archetypical honourable-if-short-tempered Matsu or pretty much straight-up-honourable-and-more-clinically-sane Akodo, a lot of the Ikoma tend to be....agitators. Some of the worst examples of the family in previous background poke the clan over and over again about 'historical claims' that basically amount to "why everything we want clearly already belongs to us and we should declare war on anyone who disagrees" and will take pretty much any excuse to declare a vendetta against anyone who questions them.

Which is a problem with the privileged position Ikoma Historians hold - they are arguably the biggest single edge the lion clan have in the rivalries between the clans, because what matters isn't who wins the debate, or the duel, or even the battle. Decades down the line, what matters is what the histories say happened, and non-trivial chunks of Ikoma histories bear little or no resemblance to actual events, but - thanks to the "testimony supersedes evidence" principle of Rokugani Law, are treated as gospel, allowing the more militant and less honourable elements of the Lion (they have them, just like any clan) to pull spurious 'historical claims' out of a hat to support just about anything.

 

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Here again we must put matters into perspective. The Unicorn have been back for two hundred years. But their long absence created some territorial ambiguities. It is up to the diplomats to sort things out. After long negoatiation, the Ide and Ikoma emissaries worked out a deal to settle things between the Unicorn and Lion. The resulting alliance would have shored up the position of both Clans, at the very least by eliminating any disputes as to their common border. Outwardly, Shinjo Altansarnai accepted the hard work of her retainers. She made a treaty with the Lion Clan; she pledged her word on the honor of her name, the honor of her Clan, and her honor as the Unicorn Champion. This is the fundamental basis of diplomacy in Rokugan. As we know from Leadership, samurai are meant to keep their word. All that much more must this apply to Clan Champions managing the relations of the Great Clans.

But inwardly, her heart was unsettled. She wavered because of selfishness and pride. By reneging, she not only insulted the Lion Clan but also struck a blow at the basic constitution of Rokugan society. And so by her own irresponsibility she proved correct all those who look down on the Unicorn as wild, barbaric, and untrustworthy. This is the pain and scandal of Shinjo Shono, who is a true samurai. He is humiliated by the gaijin antics of his reckless mother. He understands that a real leader does not throw away the lives of uncounted retainers in a war to preserve one’s own personal desires. He was probably correct in surmising the Lion sent his own heart’s love against the Unicorn out of contempt. By living up to the tenants of Bushido, Shinjo Shono showed the Lion a striking counterexample to his mother’s lack of resolve. It would have been so much more preferable to have this excellent young man as a close ally but, since it cannot be the case, at least Lion samurai will have the honor of facing a virtuous and worthy opponent in the son if not in the mother.

Shinjo Shono’s example shows us that this is not some cultural difference between Lion and Unicorn. He expected better from his mother and is bitterly disappointed. The problem is therefore Shinjo Altansarnai. This is supported by the inference that the Ide diplomats, who must have known the whole situation as to the treaty if they are indeed capable of doing their jobs properly, did not explain to their Champion that the Ikoma daimyo was already married. This demonstrates that the Ide lack complete confidence in Altansarnai and Altansarnai’s actions in light of the revelation prove their skepticism is well grounded. I suspect that her lack of moral clarity, along with her audacious, schizoid decision to force the war her own previous policy sought to avoid, will prove a great temptation for an ambitious man like, say, Moto Chagatai.

Edited by Manchu

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