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are courtiers seen as more "important" in strict social context like court ? are the bushi more seen as warriors, so a little less sophisticated than courtier in the eye of the high ups ? To a point that narratively, a courtier is more "important" than a bushi ? a bit like shugenjas are more important to protect ?

there seem to be a clear difference since a courtier will not wield a katana and probably not any big armor which is a huge drawback. it feels like courtiers are strictly weaker than bushi in almost ALL situations except strict human social contexts. and if you give a few key shuji and social skill to your bushi then he just becomes 1000% more versatile than a courtier if he is taken as seriously in court, because he can talk nearly as good as a courtier + he can duel/skirmish/massbattle and the courtier cannot.

unless the courtier pick up a katana, and duel, and what not.. but if he stays with his tiny weapon and no armor... what is the point of playing a courtier unless most sessions are intrigues ? they are bad at everything else. So i was wondering if there is something narratively to make them bigger / more important / less disposable etc.

 

Edited by Avatar111

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Remember that, from an in-setting point of view, the division between "courtier" and "bushi" isn't as clear-cut as it is in the game. There are good, mechanical reasons to differentiate them in the RPG and the LCG, but inside the setting, courtier and bushi are more jobs than descriptions of what someone actually is. Someone with great skill wielding a katana, who has won many duels and fought in many battles, could be sent to a Court in order to represent their clan and its interests as a delegate, participating in negotiations, making deals, etc. Similarly, someone with great political acumen, who is a veteran of many Courts and a long record of successfully concluding treaties, arranging marriages, etc. could be sent to the battlefield to function as a member of a commander's staff--keeping records, negotiating with the opposition, or the lords of lands across which the army will travel, dealing with issues and tensions within the army (which, given the nature of samurai, can be many, even if they're all from the same clan.) Admittedly, the first character probably won't be leading a clan delegation to the Imperial Winter Court, and the second likely won't be leading the charge of a legion against the enemy line, but both are capable of being more than just "bushi" or "courtier".

As for your concerns about playing these characters, and particularly courtiers...well, I've run games of L5R that feature very little combat, and were heavily focused on intrigue, investigation and interpersonal politics and strife. I could turn your question around in such a game setting and say, other than wielding a bunch of weapons and being good at killing things, what good is a bushi? In the vast majority of game interactions, a courtier is going to be far more flexible and useful. And if I give my courtier some skill-at-arms (remember, any samurai CAN carry a katana...it simply means, if they do, they are prepared to use it), they can do essentially anything a bushi can. How, in such a setting, do I make bushi playable and useful? (incidentally, this was a very real issue that came up over and over again in AEG's big online RPG events, Winter Courts 1 through 4. Fortunately, most people playing bushi quickly came to realize they could play them as astute politicians, just by ensuring they had a pretty basic set of social skills.)

For that matter, in a very "magic-centric" game, with many elements of spirituality and mysticism, you could raise the same question yet again for both courtiers and bushi, because neither of them are shugenja...

In the end, it comes down to the nature of the game being run. A good GM will try to ensure there are things that every one of their players' characters can do, with moments for them to play their strengths and shine.

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Solid answer. Basically, if you are willing to play a courtier without a katana and using a yojimbo etc, that is by choice and you need to be ready to roleplay that.

But in a campaign which deal with a bit of everything (as many combat as court as spirits etc), having your courtier grab a katana and an armor, and a few combat skills, is not something totally out of context or absurd or badly seen (like a shugenja or monk wielding a katana would be for example).

thx

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Samurai were expecting to have a well rounded education.  Being a politician and a warrior isn't at all that unusual in the setting.  I would assume most (or even all) Samurai received at least some martial instruction in their youth.

54 minutes ago, DGLaderoute said:

 (remember, any samurai CAN carry a katana...it simply means, if they do, they are prepared to use it)

I think that's the most relevant part.  It's sort of like carrying a gun in the old west.  Not every problem needs to be solved through violence, but if they are carrying a katana they will be expected (or even required) to use it if a potential conflict arises.    If that character isn't great at fighting then maybe that's not the best choice.  Leave the unavoidable physical combat to your yojimbo or your bushi comrade.  Otherwise you are advertising that you are willing to use physical violence to settle a conflict, and for a courtier that might be more a liability than a benefit.

In my experience most campaigns of L5R are social/ intrigue stories where sometimes skirmishes and duels occurred, but there are all types of campaigns out there.  It shouldn't be hard to make that courtier useful in the adventure unless you are like going into the Shadowlands or something like that.  

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There are no in-universe restrictions as to whether a "courtier" can carry a katana or wear armor. In fact, the lack of a Scorpion Clan bushi school kind of indicates that we are to understand that the distinction between courtier and bushi is a gray area.

The distinction between someone who is or is not a shugenja is a much more clear distinction than "bushi" or "courtier". In fact, within the actual context of the world I don't know that individuals would even necessarily acknowledge or label themselves one or the other. It really is more an entirely mechanical thing.

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30 minutes ago, TheHobgoblyn said:

There are no in-universe restrictions as to whether a "courtier" can carry a katana or wear armor.

It's the other way around. Not carrying a katana protects the courtier from being directly called out to duel, by way of allowing them a champion, and allowing everyone else to recognise that they will be able to call for a champion. Not wearing armour is part of expressing trust in your host's ability to ensure your safety within their lands, and a demonstrated expectation for peaceful circumstances.

38 minutes ago, TheHobgoblyn said:

In fact, within the actual context of the world I don't know that individuals would even necessarily acknowledge or label themselves one or the other. It really is more an entirely mechanical thing.

This would be a pretty significant departure for the setting, and if it were true, I would expect to see it outright stated, rather than insinuated while otherwise maintaining those labels.

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2 minutes ago, BitRunr said:

It's the other way around. Not carrying a katana protects the courtier from being directly called out to duel, by way of allowing them a champion, and allowing everyone else to recognise that they will be able to call for a champion. Not wearing armour is part of expressing trust in your host's ability to ensure your safety within their lands, and a demonstrated expectation for peaceful circumstances.

This would be a pretty significant departure for the setting, and if it were true, I would expect to see it outright stated, rather than insinuated while otherwise maintaining those labels.

 

The thing is that the setting has always done an incredibly poor job of remotely suggesting that there is particularly any sort of difference.

From the very beginning of the setting, pretty much every single major character of note has been expected to both be well above the average soldiers in combat AND to totally dominate in the political realm.

Do we see Shoju either refusing to carry a weapon around in order to show trust in his host or, alternatively, that he is incapable of holding a civil conversation and political discourse is well beyond him?

Are we to understand that Kachiko, the Scorpion Clan Thunder who is instrumental in fighting and defeating Fu Leng, is incapable of figuring out which side of the blade it sharp because she is a "courtier"?

What about Toturi? Hotaru? Tsukune? Yoritomo?

 

There are no doubt some characters within the setting that are either totally indicate that they are completely incapable of fighting or are really good at fighting, but are also totally anti-social. But in the grand scheme of things, they appear to be the exceptions.

Pretty much all of the characters presented in the setting as a primary protagonist are expected to be capable of doing everything a bushi does AND be capable doing everything a courtier does without being definitively pigeon-holed into a singular definition. Regardless of whatever their card may read, in-universe I don't see any definitive labels being applied to any of these characters and limiting them to only the realm of the battlefield or only the realm of court.

 

I fully understand that what you wrote is what was stated in previous editions of the RPG-- but it is critically important as to those statements remotely match the actual presented setting or whether they were just statements used to try to justify a distinct mechanical class system and didn't really manifest themselves outside of the exclusive realm of the RPG.

Honestly, even when we do see characters within the story that we can say "this character is totally a courtier and has no bushi skills" we absolutely do not always see them accompanied by a yojimbo, even when they seem to have sufficient status or importance as to justify having one. On the other hand, we do see characters who are clearly capable of engaging in battle quite successfully, but if they have sufficient status they may very well be followed around by bodyguards/yojimbos nonetheless.

 

The RPG is meant to be designed in order to simulate the setting, the setting need not match up to the RPG-- and if previous editions of the RPG stated things that were wildly incongruant with the presented setting, then those things should not be taken as inarguable canonical scriptural truth.

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5 minutes ago, TheHobgoblyn said:

Do we see Shoju either refusing to carry a weapon around in order to show trust in his host

You're conflating two things here, and Shoju was a trained bushi. Rank 5 in 1e. As well as that whole "Scorpion Clan Champion" thing. You basically pulled a list of excessively high insight and high status samurai - people who don't represent the average bushi, let alone the average courtier, stand beyond the average level of insight and experience, and aren't good role models for PC behaviour or training until they reach similar peaks. The presence or absence of yojimbo and the relevance of status, martial ability, etc of the (un)protected samurai in question can be examined in full context if you wish to provide it.

Otherwise, while individuals as samurai will be expected to communicate effectively and know which end of the blade is pointy, a courtier school is not a bushi dojo. They don't hold the same focus, nor expect and test for the same results from their students. Both exist, and both produce students that identify themselves differently.

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14 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

Solid answer. Basically, if you are willing to play a courtier without a katana and using a yojimbo etc, that is by choice and you need to be ready to roleplay that.

But in a campaign which deal with a bit of everything (as many combat as court as spirits etc), having your courtier grab a katana and an armor, and a few combat skills, is not something totally out of context or absurd or badly seen (like a shugenja or monk wielding a katana would be for example).

Definitely not. Whatever your 'day job' is, you're still a samurai. If your duty (or your lord) says "go join the army" then go get your kit bag.

At the same time, that sort of situation is a perfectly acceptable time to use the courtesy-check-to-requisition-armour-from-the-boss-for-the-duration option, because (1) you don't 'own' any, (2) it's obvious you're being sent into a situation where that's  a reasonable request, and (3) you're a courtier so a courtesy check should be a pretty easy thing to achieve, and may end up walking out of the garrison better equipped than the bushi....

14 hours ago, Avatar111 said:

what is the point of playing a courtier unless most sessions are intrigues ? they are bad at everything else.

Different Conflict scenes:

  • Skirmishes - Courtiers tend to be bad at skirmishes, I'm not arguing this one - skirmishes are emphatically the domain of the bushi schools as they require good endurance and heavy-duty personal weapons and armour. At the same time, don't overlook courtiers' generally higher vigilance, which is good in ambushes...
  • Mass battles - your lack of armour is largely irrelevant as aside from the odd clash (where you would be entitled to lob a loyal bushi in the way if you've thought to arrange a yojimbo), whilst the game is mostly driven by your tactics and command skills - courtiers are at a disadvantage here because they tend to get one or the other in either their starting skills or early curriculum and few schools have both (some have neither!), but quite a few shuji are useful in mass battles too. Definitely one where Bushi are generally better but a lot less clear-cut than a skirmish
  • Duels - Trying to describe duels with a single broad brush is laughable, but you have the same variation on a smaller scale.
    • Warriors duels and battlefield clashes obviously favour bushi
    • First blood and to the death depends on the game of strife management - whilst courtiers tend to have a lower composure, they tend to be loaded with skills and shuji useful for either mitigating strife or lobbing it at their opponent
    • Actually winning the argument for the terms of the duel is likely to be a mini-intrigue.
  • Intrigues - Obviously are generally as biased to courtiers as skirmishes are to bushi.

I'm not sure it's so impossible to make a 'courtier' useless in a fight, either. Bayushi Manipulators are probably the poster child for this argument, but most courtier schools also teach Kata.

 

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a good courtier is considered more valuable than a good bushi, but this doesn't mean the typical courtier is necessarily more valuable.

For example, Bayushi Shoju would almost certainly rather lose 1,000 bushi instead of losing Kachiko because, through Kachiko, he has the ear of the emperor.  By the same token, the Unicorn would almost certainly not let Tadaji die without sending several Bushi to die before him.  Basically, a courtier can garner enough influence that they become almost indispensable, where a Bushi must always remain somewhat dispensable or they lose their value as a warrior. Lower level courtiers might be rescued from a duel or two in the hopes that they will learn the error of their ways and eventually gain meaningful influence, but if they prove to be more trouble than they're worth, the clan will probably cut them loose.. one way or another.

  Also keep in mind that the samurai's lord can assign them to whatever duty they like and outfit them appropriately..  let's say a Lord decides one of their courtiers isn't working out..  they are perfectly within their rights to give that courtier a Katana and some armor and tell them to go fight on the wall until they better understand how society works.

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The lines definitely seem blurry when it comes to what is expected of a samurai as a warrior and poet. The courtier PC in my game is far more martially inclined, but he's also an Ikoma, which to me makes sense. Having a small number of players in our group means everyone needs to fill additional roles too, since everyone needs to wield some form of weapon and negotiate from time to time. I handle the lore and setting differently however, with NPCs having more focused career paths as diplomats, accountants, historians, advisors, etc. even if only in name. I'm even considering creating a few template titles or offices (such as "ambassador "?) to go along with the already existing Emerald Magistrate and Spy, to help PC courtiers stand out a little more. So basically it's a setting vs practical role dichotomy in my mind.

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On 12/23/2018 at 2:16 AM, Black_Rabbit_Inle said:

For example, Bayushi Shoju would almost certainly rather lose 1,000 bushi instead of losing Kachiko because, through Kachiko, he has the ear of the emperor.  By the same token, the Unicorn would almost certainly not let Tadaji die without sending several Bushi to die before him.  Basically, a courtier can garner enough influence that they become almost indispensable, where a Bushi must always remain somewhat dispensable or they lose their value as a warrior.

I think this is like comparing apples to oranges. In my mind, a great war general would be just as valuable and just as indispensable as an imperial ambassador is. Being able to successfully direct, boost morale of, and inspire loyalty from large armies is just as important to a clan. The same way a clan would prefer to lose large numbers of ordinary bushi instead of an important ambassador, I'm sure they would prefer to lose large numbers of ordinary courtiers instead of lose their best general.

Sure, clans in general might have more bushi in their ranks than courtiers, but that might not be the case for all clans. You might not see it, but I'm sure Kachiko and Tadaji both have "armies" of courtiers that work with them to keep track of all the important stuff in the background. By the nature of their job, bushi will die more often, that is true, but I don't think this means they are more expendable.

Also, do not confuse bushi with ashigaru (non-samurai professional soldiers) and mercenaries, which will make up most of the armies of the clans. Many bushi will hold leadership positions in armies, or will be part of strategic elite troops, and are therefore less likely to die than ordinary soldiers. Mass battle rules try to represent this reality to a certain extend.

Finally, clan view might largely differ on who's more valuable. A dragon clan daimyo might value a teenager training as bushi more than avoiding risks to his own welfare and specially bred and trained horse (see "The Rising Wave" fiction). I would say they would appoint no one as expendable in their current situation...

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I think the short answer is that your status and glory (and honor) determines your general ranking regarding how valuable you are to your clan. Your school does not. Asking about courtiers vs bushi (vs shugenja vs...) is like asking about favoring spoons over forks. A well stocked kitchen has plenty of both and you probably don’t favor one over the other. All things being equal.

Sometimes all things aren’t equal. In some social settings, chasing some goals, one kind of samurai is more useful than the other. Are you eating soup? Okay in that specific case you value the spoon more than the fork...

My opinion? A courtier can be dangerous on the battlefield by taking ranked in MA (probably Melee) & using his or her item choice in 20 questions to get Laquered Armor. Now your courtier is almost as dangerous in combat as a bushi (just as Bushi with a few social skills/Shuji can become almost as dangerous as a courtier in the courts).

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A skilled bushi would certainly be considered superior to a low-end paper-pusher courtier (though the tenants of compassion might require the warrior to intervene anyway).  As far as 5th Ed RPG goes, though, I'd just say courtiers are those whose greatest strength is their people skills rather than their physical skills.

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Here is something to consider: The great Daimyo and Clan Champions are almost exclusively Bushi Samurai and have average high points in social skills. How come? Because their biggest advantage in Court is their status. Status outclasses any awesome Courtier skill you may have. You may have the ability to blackmail or manipulate the great daimyos but can you pull through when he just orders you to commit seppukku or even execution? Rokugan is a warrior society and skill in war as an individual as well as a General outclass the abilities of courtiers that can't compete in that regard and are not that useful, if you already have a high status. (Examples range from Doji Domotai to Akodo Shigetoshi and Bayushi Paneki all Bushi with good social skills but no direct courtier school experience)

That doesn't mean they are regarded as useless. I'd say on lower Status levels the courtier is definitely more valuable in his natural environments but never forget that this is a warrior culture and even Otomo Madoka was inspired to write her famous book through the writings of the Ronin General Sun Tao. On the other hand due to their scarcity Courtiers and Shugenja are more valuable on average but never look at a Bushi as pure Cannon Fodder even if they are eager to die for their family and honor. 

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its easy to play a mix of bushi/courtier.

but playing a "pure" courtier, like Kakita Yoshi, Ide Tadaji, Yasuki Taka etc... This is playing the game on hard mode in most campaigns. If we consider the 4 "conflict" modes; Intrigue, Mass Battle, Duel, Skirmish being represented equally, you will get less mileage with your pure courtier. So that needs to be made clear with the GM if playing a pure courtier is something the player is ready to do.

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3 hours ago, Nachtphysik said:

Here is something to consider: The great Daimyo and Clan Champions are almost exclusively Bushi Samurai and have average high points in social skills. How come? Because their biggest advantage in Court is their status. Status outclasses any awesome Courtier skill you may have. You may have the ability to blackmail or manipulate the great daimyos but can you pull through when he just orders you to commit seppukku or even execution? Rokugan is a warrior society and skill in war as an individual as well as a General outclass the abilities of courtiers that can't compete in that regard and are not that useful, if you already have a high status. (Examples range from Doji Domotai to Akodo Shigetoshi and Bayushi Paneki all Bushi with good social skills but no direct courtier school experience)

That doesn't mean they are regarded as useless. I'd say on lower Status levels the courtier is definitely more valuable in his natural environments but never forget that this is a warrior culture and even Otomo Madoka was inspired to write her famous book through the writings of the Ronin General Sun Tao. On the other hand due to their scarcity Courtiers and Shugenja are more valuable on average but never look at a Bushi as pure Cannon Fodder even if they are eager to die for their family and honor. 

This is a fair point, but few courtiers will ever encounter someone like a Great Clan family daimyo or Champion; the vast majority will never do so. Even then, such high-status individuals don't generally get involved in specific issues; they offer broad guidance and set high-level goals for their clans and families, then turn these over to legions of lesser courtiers to roll up their political sleeves and do battle in the courtly trenches, concluding the myriad treaties and agreements that actually translate into those goals. Status at the level of where all of the detailed scheming and negotiating is done is actually much LESS important that political acumen. In fact, trying to wield status to get your way in negotiations can be counter-productive; it will likely end up with the clan of the high-status samurai getting nothing except empty platitudes and meaningless "commitments to continue negotiating". A clan that attempts to bludgeon their way to getting what they want with sheer status will soon find themselves never being engaged in substantive discussions, just an endless series of inconclusive dinners and pointless meetings over tea.

Interestingly, that level of nitty-gritty political wheeling and dealing is where most PC courtiers are likely to end up being.

It DOES take more work on the part of the GM to portray a political court setting as readily as a skirmish or battlefield, but it's very doable and can be just as much fun as swinging swords and firing arrows.

That said, I wouldn't call bushi "cannon fodder" either. They are very skilled at what they do, which is fighting--but so are courtiers, at what they do. And both the battlefield and the courts are two sides of the "warrior culture" coin, so both are absolutely essential to the interests of a clan.

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12 minutes ago, Avatar111 said:

but playing a "pure" courtier, like Kakita Yoshi, Ide Tadaji, Yasuki Taka etc... This is playing the game on hard mode in most campaigns. If we consider the 4 "conflict" modes; Intrigue, Mass Battle, Duel, Skirmish being represented equally, you will get less mileage with your pure courtier. So that needs to be made clear with the GM if playing a pure courtier is something the player is ready to do.

Well, normally you play with a small group of players, so specializing to some degree, where everyone has a moment, where they can shine, is advisable. In the end a Bushi without a few points in Etiquette (and Iaijutsu as well) at least and some other high skills like Lore or something, isn't going to have fun with the entirety of plots L5R can offer. Same goes for a Courtier who doesn't put a few points in Defense and/or a Bugei skill like Kyujutsu or Staves or so. 

Also of course "intrigue" is very broad in comparison to the other three modes as the solving of a murder case can be as much an "intrigue"-setting as well as trying to get the Daimyo to sign a peace treaty (or finding the hidden Spider Spy in the Court), so there are enough possibilities for every type of character. 

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On ‎12‎/‎30‎/‎2018 at 11:07 PM, Nachtphysik said:

Well, normally you play with a small group of players, so specializing to some degree, where everyone has a moment, where they can shine, is advisable. In the end a Bushi without a few points in Etiquette (and Iaijutsu as well) at least and some other high skills like Lore or something, isn't going to have fun with the entirety of plots L5R can offer. Same goes for a Courtier who doesn't put a few points in Defense and/or a Bugei skill like Kyujutsu or Staves or so. 

Also of course "intrigue" is very broad in comparison to the other three modes as the solving of a murder case can be as much an "intrigue"-setting as well as trying to get the Daimyo to sign a peace treaty (or finding the hidden Spider Spy in the Court), so there are enough possibilities for every type of character. 

Agreed. Investigation or nefarious skulduggery are often non-conflict scenes but just as important to the story, and courtiers are often better at those.

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First let me say that all my experience comes from 1-4 ed. So that is where my examples will come from.

Now to understand the position we first have to understand what a Courtier is and what they do.

 

L5R uses the word Courtier which doesn't have the meaning that the writers are trying to portray.

Courtier: noun / plural noun: courtiers 

European: A person who attends a royal court as a companion or adviser to the king or queen.

Japanese: Courtiers are the rich people who live in the courts also known as the palaces.

But that neither here nor there as it has become part of the game world at this point.

 

The position of a Courtier is something that seems to get confused a lot in L5R games.

In-world it is a job/position, But being an RPG the game has to make some distinctions between it and the Bushi class for balance and playability.

This was do to the Class/School design from the first four editions of the game. It surprises me that they kept it in 5th since the structure of the new mechanics does not require it.

 

Courtiers are Clan diplomats/representatives. They negotiate treaties, arrange marriages, and other political activities.

In-world this can be done by anyone within the Clan with the clout to speak on the clans behalf. 

This can be a Champion, Family Daimyō, or an appointed representative with the status to accomplish the goal. 

A good example of this is the Phoenix Clan, who's Courtiers tend to be from Shugenja schools in-world and not Courtiers in the game "Class" sense.

 

Now to the OP, first we must look at the "School" system in Rokugan. 

The word "School" is what tends to confuse newcomers to L5R. 

Rokugan schools are not like western schools. They are more of an apprenticeship program.

3/4th Ed Emerald Empire explained Rokugan schools as for lack of a better term like the Jedi order.

You have a preschool like first part of your education where you lean the basics and then you are paired with a master for your farther education based on you skills.

If the student is not up to the task of advanced training with a master, they are sent to the military as a grunt or a low level administrator/ assistant for a Courtier. 

So all Courtiers will probably have some form of low level martial training.

Now whether that training is rank 1 quality would depend on the Clan/Family.

Most often in Clans with a Courtier training curriculum I would say no.

Now this by no means keeps a Courtier from practicing his/her swordsmanship.

But a fully trained Bushi Yojimbo would still be a better choose then a partially trained Courtier so most don't bother.

 

Another issues that come up a lot, is the belief that there are multiple Rank 3+ Samurai running around.

When the fact is (at least from 3/4th ed) the majority of Samurai in Rokugan are Rank 1-2.

 Rank 3+ Samurai are rare and the PCs are part of this rare breed.

Because of this most of your opponents will be low level, so a few ranks in Katana/Kenjutsu/or what ever they are calling it now, should be just fine.

 

As to Armor in a duel.

Outside of a battlefield it is rare for a Samurai to be in armor.

Exceptions to this would be if ;

1.The Court is part of a siege or in an active warzone.

2. The Samurai is in an enemy court during a war.

3. The Samurai is a member of the Courts guard.

In these instances it would be O.K. ? (depending on the Clan) to wear armor during the duel.

Outside of that, no one is going to let a Samurai go get his/her armor to fight in a duel.

This would show he/she has no faith in his/her position or skill.

 

 

 

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19 hours ago, tenchi2a said:

As to Armor in a duel.

Outside of a battlefield it is rare for a Samurai to be in armor.

Exceptions to this would be if ;

1.The Court is part of a siege or in an active warzone.

2. The Samurai is in an enemy court during a war.

3. The Samurai is a member of the Courts guard.

In these instances it would be O.K. ? (depending on the Clan) to wear armor during the duel.

Outside of that, no one is going to let a Samurai go get his/her armor to fight in a duel. 

This would show he/she has no faith in his/her position or skill.

Regardless of situation - a duel, barring a battleflield clash and frankly even then to some degree, is an honour conflict. It's meant to be a 'fair' fight (for a given value of 'fair').

So insisting that your character gets to wear plate armour and the other combatant has to fight in their kimono "because that's what their school equipment is" is right out. Even if, for whatever reason, the agreement is that duelling in armour is allowed/intended/insisted upon, it can be assumed that a set of armour would be found for a character who doesn't normally possess one, just the same as your lord would be expected to provide body armour for someone heading to the front line of a battlefield.

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Posted (edited)
25 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Regardless of situation - a duel, barring a battleflield clash and frankly even then to some degree, is an honour conflict. It's meant to be a 'fair' fight (for a given value of 'fair').

So insisting that your character gets to wear plate armour and the other combatant has to fight in their kimono "because that's what their school equipment is" is right out. Even if, for whatever reason, the agreement is that duelling in armour is allowed/intended/insisted upon, it can be assumed that a set of armour would be found for a character who doesn't normally possess one, just the same as your lord would be expected to provide body armour for someone heading to the front line of a battlefield.

I could be wrong, but I believe the OP was worried about a Samurai using armor in a rare spontaneous duel in court.

So I was listing the few times that a Samurai would wear armor in court.

That said, you are correct that outside of an arranged duel, wearing armor in a duel would not be seen as honorable.

I guess I could have been clearer there.

 

Edited by tenchi2a

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sorry this post is a little late, but I've been on vacation and I find this topic both important and interesting.

On ‎12‎/‎27‎/‎2018 at 1:00 PM, Agasha Kanetake said:

I think this is like comparing apples to oranges. In my mind, a great war general would be just as valuable and just as indispensable as an imperial ambassador is. Being able to successfully direct, boost morale of, and inspire loyalty from large armies is just as important to a clan. The same way a clan would prefer to lose large numbers of ordinary bushi instead of an important ambassador, I'm sure they would prefer to lose large numbers of ordinary courtiers instead of lose their best general.

Sure, clans in general might have more bushi in their ranks than courtiers, but that might not be the case for all clans. You might not see it, but I'm sure Kachiko and Tadaji both have "armies" of courtiers that work with them to keep track of all the important stuff in the background. By the nature of their job, bushi will die more often, that is true, but I don't think this means they are more expendable.

Also, do not confuse bushi with ashigaru (non-samurai professional soldiers) and mercenaries, which will make up most of the armies of the clans. Many bushi will hold leadership positions in armies, or will be part of strategic elite troops, and are therefore less likely to die than ordinary soldiers. Mass battle rules try to represent this reality to a certain extend.

Finally, clan view might largely differ on who's more valuable. A dragon clan daimyo might value a teenager training as bushi more than avoiding risks to his own welfare and specially bred and trained horse (see "The Rising Wave" fiction). I would say they would appoint no one as expendable in their current situation...

 These wouldn't be half-hearted attempts to save them, and any full-hearted attempt likely involves some pretty significant bushi, so I actually don't see this as comparing apples and oranges.   I have to admit that I believe if Utaku Kamoko or Bayushi Aramoro were taken hostage, it's very likely that Ide Tadaji or Bayushi Kachiko (and their agents) would be relied upon to get those high ranking bushi back.

  I'm not sure about comparative numbers of bushi to courtiers.. certainly the scorpion have more courtiers than bushi.. and even so I think Shoju would value Kachiko above any particular bushi, including himself though he would probably take careful stock of what his actual duties are.  I think we're using different definitions of "expendable" though.  I don't mean to imply that a bushi's death would be seen as less significant (which would be one definition of the word.), but that the bushi is more likely to be used a limited number of times.   "The way of the samurai is found in death" as Yamamoto Tsunetomo says in "Hagakure" (I strongly suggest that L5R fans read this book).  As applied to Rokugan,  this idea is true no matter whether that samurai is a bushi, a shugenja, or a courtier..  or rather whether that samurai is performing any of those roles at the time..  every samurai should be ready to die if it becomes necessary in the service to their lord. (Even an unnecessary death is better than an unnecessary life) However, the role of the bushi is probably the quickest path to that finality.  In a way, the true value of a bushi (or any samurai) can only be known when they are "spent", so it isn't a bad thing for a bushi to be "more expendable".

  Now with all of that said, I also argued that courtiers can possibly garner so much influence that their clan would only be losing a great resource by losing those courtiers.   While this makes those courtiers "indispensable", this fact should almost be considered a betrayal of bushido.  The only defense that most courtiers have against that accusation is that they garner that influence on behalf of their clan, rather than acquiring it for their own benefit.  If it could be proven that Tadaji garnered influence in order to avoid death, that would be cowardice (or doing so to live a better lifestyle would be greed).  Another aspect of being a courtier though, is that you exist to sway people's opinions, so if you need some military support, you're likely to be able to convince someone to give it. Also, you can probably convince people not to make wild accusations against you just for "doing your job too well."

  In closing for now, the bushi are more expendable, which makes them the better samurai. Indispensable courtiers betray bushido, but can convince people not to point it out.

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