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Magnus Grendel

The Castle and the Stone

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Talking to some new players about the setting - specifically the various Bushido tenets and the different approaches to life, the universe and everything by the various clans, I ended up coming up with a Rokugani children's parable - shown below if it's any use for players to plagiarise, adapt and improve (I think I've got the 'gift-giving order' right):

 

The Castle and the Stone

Because she was a courageous samurai,  the Hantei granted a Daimyo of the Crab Clan the castle of Kyuden Senotakai Gake, which protected a deep valley on the borders of the Empire, for her family to protect - for of all the clans of Rokugan, none garrison a fortress like the sons and daughters of the Kami Hida.

Because she was a compassionate samurai, the Crab Daimyo retained the services of the bushi who garrisoned the castle before it was granted to her, even though to her eyes castle was weak and the narrow pass it guarded could easily have been taken were she to have attacked it, so that they could redeem themselves through their service.

Because she was a dutiful samurai, the Crab Daimyo saw it was a strong castle, but could be made stronger still. With the skills of her Clan, she raised the walls and strengthened the great gate until they rivalled the cliff at the foot of which it had been built, and the bushi who served her said that the castle could now never be taken.

Because she was a sincere samurai, the Crab Daimyo respectfully disagreed with her vassals; she admitted she did not know all the ways the castle could be overcome, and that if the castle fell due to her ignorance, the failure would be hers.

Because she was a righteous samurai, she respected the knowledge of the other clans, and sent messengers to those clans to ask each to use their particular skills to strengthen the Empire's border.

Because she was an honourable samurai, each of the other clans sent a representative, who came and marvelled at the height of the castles' walls, and the strength of the steel-barred gate. But each also saw weaknesses, and asked to present gifts to help the Crab Daimyo.

Because she was a courteous samurai, the Crab Daimyo received each individually, showing them equal respect and avoiding those who were rivals meeting one another in her court.

 

First she met the Unicorn representative; an adventurous explorer, who brought a bag of flints and tinder, waxed so they would stay dry in any weather.

"Your walls are tall and your soldiers brave," he told the Crab Daimyo, "but to sit behind a castle's wall without scouting the land beyond leaves you blind to the enemy beyond the next hill; that alone cannot hold the castle." He presented the flints and tinder, explaining that the Unicorn had established scouting posts atop distant hills, and that bushi there could use beacon fires to instantly signal the castle of approaching enemies. The Crab Daimyo, grateful that the castle's garrison would never be caught unawares, thanked him, and placed the flints and tinder in the castle's shrine.

Second she met the Scorpion representative; a devious schemer, who brought a picture of the castle on a tapestry of the finest silk.

"Your walls are tall and your soldiers brave," he told the Crab Daimyo, "but not every way into the castle is known to them; that alone cannot hold the castle." He presented the tapestry explaining that when held in front of a bright lantern, hidden details in the painting would show the secret entrances to the castle which the Scorpion had learned. The Crab Daimyo, grateful that the castle's secrets now known to her, thanked him and placed the tapestry in the castle's shrine.

Third she met the Phoenix representative; a pious shujenga, who brought jade tokens carved in mysterious designs.

"Your walls are tall and your soldiers brave," he told the Crab Daimyo, "but steel and stone and courage alone is little use against magic; that alone cannot hold the castle." She presented the painting, explaining that the Phoenix had inscribed invocations to deflect and resist hostile magic atop the castle walls and that the tokens were wards which would extend those protections to the keep. The Crab Daimyo, grateful that the castle was as proof against magic as against armies, thanked her and placed the tokens in the castle's shrine.

Fourth she met the Crane representative; an elegant diplomat, who brought a scroll covered in beautiful calligraphy.

"Your walls are tall and your soldiers brave," he told the Crab Daimyo, "but without allies to provide you supplies you are vulnerable to a lengthy siege; that alone cannot hold the castle." He presented the scroll, explaining that the scroll denoted treaties the Crane had secured on the Crab Daimyo's behalf. The Crab Daimyo, grateful that the castle's armouries and storehouses would always remain full, thanked him and placed the scroll in the castle's shrine.

Fifth she met with the Lion representative; a proud general, who brought a steel gunbai fan, polished so its movements could be seen clearly.

"Your walls are tall and your soldiers brave," she told the Crab Daimyo, "but without the finest training your soldiers cannot respond swiftly to your will; that alone cannot hold the castle." She presented the fan, explaining that she had brought sensei provided by the dojos of the Lion who would train the Crab Daimyo's officers in tactics she could order at a single sweep of the gunbai. The Crab Daimyo, grateful that the castle's soldiers would respond instantly, thanked her and placed the gunbai in the castle's shrine.

Finally she met with the Dragon representative; a laughing monk, who brought a small grey stone the size of a grown man's fist.

"I do not understand," admitted the Crab Daimyo, "what does this stone represent?" The monk smiled and said "Nothing anymore, great Daimyo - it's just a stone I picked up on a walk this morning." The Crab Daimyo was confused, and asked how the gift the Dragon had brought would help her defend the castle - and then, seeing his smile broaden, wondered aloud that if it represented nothing anymore, what it had once represented. "Whilst walking on the cliff above the castle; I saw this stone at the edge of the cliff." The monk said. "With the next rainy season it would have been swept down the edge of the cliff, causing a landslide that would destroy everything in the valley." The Crab Daimyo, realising that all her work and that of the other clans could have been undone by a simple stone, thanked him and placed the stone in a place of honour in the castle's shrine.

 

 

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