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Reforming the Yoritomo's Alliance/Mantis Clan

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Thought experiment that I'm looking at as we have a chance to reset a few question marks with the reboot. 

The transition from the Yoritomo's Alliance to the Mantis clan was always controversial in the old game for a few reasons, but one of the big ones was that many of the Minor Clans that merged with the Mantis seemed to get lost in the whole Mantis pirates and mercenaries ascetic.  It was quite jarring to see the traditionalist Centipede with their Lady Sun worship suddenly becoming the midriff barring Thunder shugenja of the mantis and the Fox merger and the transition to spirit animal masters was always seen as sort of odd.

But as I said with the reboot we have a chance to course correct some of those issues and maybe get a newer and clearer direction for the Mantis with the new setting.

For me that starts with which minor clans would be most suitable to make up the core of the new Mantis Great Clan and for that I think we need to scrap some of the old expectations and come in with a fresh perspective.  Most clans have a four major families and each serves a role in the clan as 1 bushi, 1 courtier, 1 shugenja and 1 wildcard family. Assuming we want the reformed Great Clan to follow that ascetic then the Mantis are the obvious choice for our bushi family, however they also have the Tenkinja which is too interesting an idea to just throw out so I would propose that they could cover both those roles (similar to how the Bayushi are presented as both a courtier and bushi school but separate the two traditions like they did with the Seppun and Miya in Emerald Empire).  Once we have that position established its now time to look at the other families that would make a good fit for the Clan.  

While some may have balked at the apparent loss of identity the wasp were always presented as the most loyal of the Mantis subfamilies with Tsuruchi being the first to swear allegiance under the Mantis Banner when the great clan was established.  And the Tsuruchi to me were always the most Mantis like in their refusal to subscribe to the traditional views of Bushido.  Given that the RPG has already hinted that Tsuruchi has some sort of contact with the Mantis and his respect for Yoritomo I could see that crossing over to the new clan again.  They could very easily become our wildcard family fulfilling the shinobi/scout role as their bounty hunter and archer style would be a good fit for that position in the new clan.

So now we are left with the question where do we look for our other families to join.  This is where I see the real divergence happening as I think there are families that would in my opinion make a better fit to the clan than the old ones.  For starters I would look at the Tortoise as the next most logical family to join as they share many of the smuggling traditions with the Mantis and their connection to the Imperial court being a pseudo Imperial vassal family tasked with monitoring gaijin trade and means that they would lend a certain air of authority to the clan and could become the basis for the clans courtier tradition or a second bushi/wildcard group. 

And for our fourth family I would propose something completely off the wall and suggest that a splinter of the Yasuki family be merged with the Mantis to form a new Carp Clan that would become part of the Mantis.  Now hear me out Crab before you start grabbing your pitchforks this would be a way to further recognize the shared heritage of our two clans and there is a logical reason for this.  Part of the problem with the old game was that mantis holdings were scattered all over the place with the Yoritomo controlling the Islands of Silk and Spice to the south, the Wasp controlling their castle that straddles Scorpion and Lion lands in the center of the Empire along with the Kitsune lands and then in the North we had the Centipede lands.  Made for a very disjointed looking territory claim so what I would suggest is that as part of the formation of the new Great clan they are ceded land on the mainland that comprises parts of the southern Crane territory and a bit of Crab land and those are awarded to the Yasuki based on old claims from their days as a Crane family (so sort of a reverse Daidoji Hachi claim) and the fact that the Crane are unable to support those territories in their post tsunami period.  This would connect better to the Wasp lands (especially if you also include a little Scorpion land to spread the loss of land complaints around) and would only really leave the Tortoise partially outside of the complete realm of influence, however given that their primary territory is the surrounds of Otosan Uchi it is possible to hand wave that, especially if they set up a secondary trade hub south of the capital.

Thoughts from others on that suggested change.

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If the Tortoise are going to stop being a Minor Clan they should just become an Imperial Family outright. It would be dumb for them to give up having the Emperor as their Clan Champion in favor of Yoritomo.

If the Mantis are going to stop being a Minor Clan they should just become a Crab Family instead of the Falcon this time around.

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I'd be quite happy with the concept of Yoritomo's Alliance, so long as it stays an Alliance of (more-or-less) equal parties.  The minor clans feel overlooked and manipulated, so they band together to have more influence for their own ideals and unique approaches.  Don't then have them manipulated and bullied by the biggest pirate of the lot.

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I'm all for the Mantis working towards great class status. The eating of other clans never made sense to me though. Maybe the Wasp joining could make sense if Tsuruchi is that loyal but eating other minor clans because it is what happened before has me agreeing with the Kylo Ren quote.

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Posted (edited)

I think the big thing that Yoritomo has to offer any minor clan is that they can now be protected/supported by great clan status if they choose to he absorbed by the Mantis.  This could be very appealing to some of the minor clans that are fed up with being used by, or feel held back by the great clans.

Edited by Ishi Tonu

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7 hours ago, Goshiu said:

I'm all for the Mantis working towards great class status. The eating of other clans never made sense to me though. Maybe the Wasp joining could make sense if Tsuruchi is that loyal but eating other minor clans because it is what happened before has me agreeing with the Kylo Ren quote.

This. I get the impression it's not an attempt to form a clan alliance, but that the Mantis are to all intents and purposes equal (or nearly so) in power and influence of the other great clans, and just want the imperial 'sanction' as such, allowing them into the club of clans which ever get considered for certain offices.

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The Tortoise Clan belongs to the Imperials. They are there to undertake the jobs that it just wouldn't be seemingly for the other Imperial Families to undertake but also shouldn't be entrusted to any Great Clan that have their own political agendas that would muddy up the waters.

I really don't want to see the Mantis claim them and use that to start snatching up what little territory the Imperial Families have. They should be left entirely in the Imperial Family realm of influence, especially in case the Imperial Families might ever lose the throne and position of authority and need to convert into being just another clan.

The Yasuki are already contested between the Crab and the Crane, though this new canon puts them firmly into Crab clan. Muddying things up by bringing the Mantis into it seems silly.

So while, granted, those families have a lot in common with the Mantis Clan, they just shouldn't be joining it. In fact, the similarities might eventually lead to say... a Mantis/Crab/Owl alliance or possibly the rivalry between the three could erupt into a trade war.

 

In the previous continuity the Fox Clan was part of the Mantis Great Clan, but honestly they never fit well. The whole Mantis Clan theme is about seafaring, storms, gold and archery-- the Fox could not possibly be thematically further from that. The Fox Clan with their concept of forest dwellers that deal with weird magical spirits gives them more in common with the Falcon and Badger, I could even see more in common with the Sparrow and Hare. And probably the Bat Clan as well, though we don't know what shape it takes in this continuity.

Honestly, even if there were a "Minor Clan Alliance", the Mantis are oddly the ones that have the least common interests and culture with all of the others.

The only Minor Clan that really fits with the Mantis without losing a lot of its core concept is the Wasp, who are known for being grubby mercenary archers without much care for such subjective things like "honor". One could easily imagine the Mantis wealth pulling them into an Alliance that ultimately becomes permanent.

 

Really though-- the Mantis Clan is supposed to be fairly decent in size already. Rather than incorporate other clans into it, maybe the better route would be to divide the currently nameless clan into different families. So maybe the Mantis Clan military all take on the name of their highest commander, the Mantis Clan merchants take on the name of the richest and most successful merchant, the Mantis Clan shugenja take on the name of the head teacher of their techniques and then maybe the last family could be the Order of Osano-wo.

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The Sparrow  Clan might be convinced to join this time. They're strapped for resources, and the Mantis might be able to provide such in return for... something.

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I'm so for the Mantis Clan becoming a great clan, but I fully support the idea of the families all coming from the Mantis clan as it currently is. I would want the current pirate themes, and their unique form of shugenja to be further explored. There is a lot that could be done with the Mantis clan without the need of adding in other minor clans. In truth the only minor clan I would even think about supporting merging into the Mantis would be there Wasp clan.

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I don't know *which* minor clan would be a good fit for this (and maybe an entirely new minor clan could be introduced just for it) but I could see Mantis allying with another minor clan who has a reputation for skill as courtiers. The Mantis would benefit from this other clan's expertise negotiating in the courts (and lack of reputation for piracy) while the other clan would benefit from bushi and tenkinja support from the Mantis. 

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Instead of the Borgitomo siphoning flavor, you can have the same combination (even if I think the Tortoise were a lousy execution of a neat idea, and often, in variant canons, give them to the Mantis because with all due respect to the idea that the Imperials need more love, no they don't)... maybe leave the Fox out, since that was a temptation sort of tossed out there as "absorb this beloved Minor Clan or they die," and they got TRULY lost in the shuffle- Naizen's explicit promises forgotten, not so much by the Yoritomo as by the friggin' art and story departments...

(Note that as a Phoenix player I'm still a bit salty about how the temptations worked, since who didn't get any at all because they were a garbage fire? That's riiiiiiiiight. Who got punched in the face because the Dragon turned one down? Yep! Gragh... MOVING ON)

Just play up the character of the Centipede and Wasp and make their differences from how the Yoritomo do things a source of strength, rather than something to be swept under the rug. Have the pious, respectable Moshi take up the Mantis role in the courts... unless some swagger is called for. Have the Wasp keep breaking their swords and being oddballs... and then, "oh, by the way, these Mantis guys are here to handle the duel you've tried to throw down on that Wasp... since he doesn't carry a katana, he's wholly within his rights to demand a champion."

 

I mean, I prefer the Three-Man Alliance to the Mantis Clan, but it hasn't got the same traction...

Edited by Shiba Gunichi

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I understand that Mantis loyalists are eager to see their clan back as it was in O5R but the whole claim of Yoritomo for the Mantis being a great clan on itself makes little sense if we look at what defined a great clan at it's foundation: a kami. Unless I have a lack of understanding of the lore, there is not another Kami directly responsible for the creation of the Mantis clan. And Yoritomo is an exceptional human, but certainly not a Kami at the same level of Hantei or any of the 9.

As we have seen some families change allegiance from a clan to another ( Yasuki, Yogo...)  why not simply include the Yoritomo familiy in one of the 7 already existing clans? It makes little sense to me that no Great clan has any family dedicated managing a fleet, while Phoenix, Crane and Crab have access to coastal territory. It would be not such a big shock to me if the current Mantis was absorbed by Crab to help with the supplies required for the Kaiu wall, or the Crane to help with the crisis the currently face due to the Tsunami. Phoenix would be an odd choice for sure, but at least it would make more sense they will be able to handle Orochis if they will be brought back. And heck, as sneaky bastards get along, I don't think Scorpion would mind having them under his banner either.

Having your family accepted into a great clan is by far the biggest honor a family daimiyo could hope for. Becoming a great clan on the other hand is technically not possible.

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4 hours ago, Hellvlad said:

I understand that Mantis loyalists are eager to see their clan back as it was in O5R but the whole claim of Yoritomo for the Mantis being a great clan on itself makes little sense if we look at what defined a great clan at it's foundation: a kami. Unless I have a lack of understanding of the lore, there is not another Kami directly responsible for the creation of the Mantis clan. And Yoritomo is an exceptional human, but certainly not a Kami at the same level of Hantei or any of the 9.

Well, the Mantis partially derive their claim to legitimacy from being descendants of Hida; more specifically, their clan was founded by Kaimetsu-Uo, the son of Osano-Wo the Fortune of Fire and Thunder, and grandson of the Kami Hida and the Dragon of Thunder.

Arguably, the Dragon of Thunder would render the Crab- and Mantis Clans MORE divine than the other Great Clans, since the Mantis are descended from two Gods, while the others are descended from just one.

Edited by Mangod

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1 hour ago, Mangod said:

Well, the Mantis partially derive their claim to legitimacy from being descendants of Hida; more specifically, their clan was founded by Kaimetsu-Uo, the son of Osano-Wo the Fortune  of Fire and Thunder, and grandson of the Kami Hida and the Dragon of Thunder.

Arguably, the Dragon of Thunder would render the Crab- and Mantis Clans MORE divine than the other Great Clans, since the Mantis are descended from two Gods, while the others are descended from just one.

Am I missing something here by saying that this would make Mantis rather a Crab clan family rather than a distinct great clan? Originating from a Kami's grandson is not as originating from Hida himself. My understanding is that the 9 great Kamis, the children of Lady Sun and lord Moon are at the highest of the celestial order after their parents.

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4 hours ago, Hellvlad said:

Am I missing something here by saying that this would make Mantis rather a Crab clan family rather than a distinct great clan? Originating from a Kami's grandson is not as originating from Hida himself. My understanding is that the 9 great Kamis, the children of Lady Sun and lord Moon are at the highest of the celestial order after their parents.

In the old Lore Kaimetsu-Uo, when he left the Crab to find his way, renounced his position with the clan and "severed" official ties with them.  Years later a descendant of his named Gusai convinced the Emperor to recognized the Mantis as a distinct entity and they were awarded Minor Clan status, so no they are a separate family and clan from the Crab.

As to the role of the Elemental Dragons they are true divine beings of an equal power to Amaterasu and Onnotangu and represent the fundamental forces of the elements.  The blood of the Thunder Dragon along with the Blood of Hida is why Osano-Wo was as powerful as he was and the Mantis (along with some in the Hida family) inherited many of those traits, thus why the Mantis had an affiliation with storm magic.  The Celestial court was ruled by the first Emperor and each subsequent Emperor was alleged to reside in the court due to their divine blood. 

The Mantis claim to Great clan status is not actually based on Hida's blood it is that during the Clan War the great clans abandoned their responsibilities and that the minor clans were forced to step up and the Mantis demanded (or held the Empire hostage for depending on your point of view) the recognition they had earned and a full place at the table in the aftermath. 

Later when the Celestial Dragon purged the Celestial realm of all those who were not either Fortunes or of direct divine blood (they made an exception for Utaku Kamoko who would reside in the heavens as Shinjo's representative since Shinjo had re-incarnated in Rokugan) the Thunder Dragon, who felt Yoritomo was worthy of a place in the heavens, gave a portion of its divine essence to him thus raising Yoritomo to a status equal to that of one of the founding Kami and allowing him to remain in the heavens as the Mantis clans patron Kami.

Edited by Schmoozies
typos

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18 hours ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

^ All that, right there?

Biiiiiiiiiiiiiig, big part of why I utterly loathed how the Mantis were presented in the last go-around.

 

How funny, then, to find myself basically pro-Mantis in this go-around...

 

Yeah, the Yoritomo stuff was basically a precursor to the Daigotsu stuff, it is just that things got really, really excessive with the Spider Clan.

Really, fundamentally, it is probably unavoidable when an entire faction is built all around one particular character, there is a desire to really oversell that singular character. And if theirs is going to be a "Great Clan", then the designers, writers, marketers-- whomever it was-- feels like they need to put that individual at least on the same level as the founding Kami.

Even though the founding Kami were 1000 years ago and no one on that tier had really existed since. So other than people just carrying their name and effectively organizing the roots of the clans, the original 9 or 10 children of the Sun and Moon should have been inconsequential enough that there is no need for a group to rise to power to have such a connection to the heavens.

It should be plenty enough that a nation that self-identifies itself as a nation gathered enough power and influence to be able to affect the fate of Rokugan and compete economically and politically with the current state of the current Great Clans. And also not be a group that all of the clans would universally aligned against and would and could stomp into oblivion.

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There's a wee tidbit in Emerald Empire that suggests a different way for the Mantis to become a Great Clan.  It is a plan whereby the Mantis get recognition by performing as a Great Clan.  One of the steps (the last one, some think) is to turn up at Otosan Uchi with an Imperial Tithe of the same size as the other Great Clans, perhaps repeatedly, and present it directly to the Emperor.  The implication seems to be that Minor Clans present their tithe to a Major Clan, who present it the Emperor.  As a side note, they also call their capital Kyuden Gotei, implying that it can host the Imperial Winter Court, without having had it officially awarded.

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On 1/19/2019 at 7:25 AM, TheHobgoblyn said:

Really, fundamentally, it is probably unavoidable when an entire faction is built all around one particular character, there is a desire to really oversell that singular character. And if theirs is going to be a "Great Clan", then the designers, writers, marketers-- whomever it was-- feels like they need to put that individual at least on the same level as the founding Kami.

Ayep.

As I often said to howls of outrage from Spider and Mantis fans, their obsession with a single character was a narrative hobble that they clung to with unfortunate devotion.

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16 minutes ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

Ayep.

As I often said to howls of outrage from Spider and Mantis fans, their obsession with a single character was a narrative hobble that they clung to with unfortunate devotion.

Speaking as a Mantis player personally that was a common misconception about the Mantis player base as a whole.  Yes there were some rabid Yoritomo fans, but their were equally rabid Fox. Wasp and Centipede fans.  Part of the problem was that early AEG fictions really only focused on Yoritomo and those in his immediate orbit so when we wanted to talk about things we liked from the story Yoritomo was usually front and center for it. 

Personally my favorite Mantis characters from the old game were Yoritomo Kamoto, who really got no exploration outside of some flavor text and mention in the Clan War miniatures game supplements, and Yoritomo (nee. Bayushi) Aramasu who was a great character to explore the core of nature versus nurture and what it meant to be loyal to your clan.  I hated the way they abandoned him and replaced him with Kitao for the horrible Mantis Civil War arc. 

As to the same level as the founding Kami that was a player driven effort to cement the place of the Mantis as a Great Clan with status equal to the others and was a participation "reward" for storyline events.  One of the reasons Mantis players got so defensive about Yoritomo was that the rest of the player base seemed to take pleasure in ragging on the character as everything that was wrong with the Mantis.  The hate for the character was so strong that the last AEG Gencon a $1,000 cash bounty was put out for the story line prize to be used to "rip" Yoritomo out of the heavens since he didn't "belong" with the other great clans founders.  It was literally one player who didn't like Yoritomo undoing the work that a large segment of the Mantis player base had put into making sure that our clan was getting the same recognition as the other great clans.

And in fairness the single character focus wasn't a trait unique too only Mantis and Spider.  In the early days of the game most of the factions were pretty focused on a single character (Kachiko, Toturi, Hitomi and Yakamo being the prime examples) and even in later stages of the game those characters were still considered fan favorites who ate up a lot of fan interest.

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