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How Do You Refer To a Monk?

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Hey, I recently got the game and got a group together (very excited!) but I have a minor (and probably slightly silly) but difficult to get around question. One of my players plans on playing a Togashi monk from a samurai family, and I'm not sure how other characters should refer to them. Are monks required to disclose their place in the Celestial Order? Are they forbidden to do so? If it's allowed or required, are they then referred to with their family name and the proper honorific? What is the proper way to refer to a monk whose social class you don't know, and does it change if you find it out? This is probably somewhere in the book and I'm reading it badly, but I'd really appreciate some guidance on this.

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Not sure if it has changed but usually monks aren't really part of the celestial order. I mean everything is part of the celestial order but they kinda have a weird place between the cracks. For one thing it is very rude to ask a monk about what they did before they joined the brotherhood of Shinsei. Shinsei actually set the standard for how to treat a monk at the dawn of the empire. Shinsei talked to the emperor with out disrespect but also didn't treat him special. The emperor did the same in return. Weird mutual respect.

 

Togashi monks are completely different from normal monks. While most of the same rules apply, Togashi monks are samurai caste. They hold rank but may still break many of the normal conventions that hold normal samurai. Kinda best of both worlds. Best I remember people didn't really trust Togashi monks as much as normal brotherhood monks. Only real downside.

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12 hours ago, Alisair Longreach said:

All Monks of the Order of Togashi renounce their former family name and adopts Togashi as their family name. Shinseists and Fortunists keep their family name.

Unless Emerald Empire changed things in this continuity, anyone joining the Brotherhood orders renounce their names and allegiances.

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Ise Zumi would be addressed as Togashi san by most fellow PCs.

That's an exception to the usual rule. I believe most monks would be referred to as brothers or sisters ... but it varies a little bit an Abbott gets a bit more respect. So for most monks it would be Brother Bob instead of Bob san.

Most people who join a monastery (Fortunist or Shinsei) "give up" their family name. That said their family usually knows who is where and may come to them for guidance if something in their previous life becomes vital to some plan. It's not entirely unheard of for a prominent "someone" to return from a monetary in the event of a true crisis for his Clan. Its not easy to become one of the Ise Zumi ... you have to find your way to them up in the Dragon Mountains, and generally you don't succeed unless the Order wants you to find them. Once you become Ise Zumi you are Dragon Clan.

The Ise Zumi are (effectively) the agents of the Kami Togashi...though they probably don't know that. An Ise Zumi can be expected to be occasionally be given orders from above just as any other samurai of a great family. Though it should be noted that the Dragon are highly individualistic and probably give fewer orders. And the orders appear to be inscrutable at first glance. 

Other Monastaries are not immune to politics either. But it's usually a different (cultural) front from *most* of the Great Clan rivalries.

For completeness: In addition to the Ise Zumi we should also look at the Kaito shrine keepers as another exception of monks who definitely have strong samurai identity and an identified place within the Phoenix Clan.

IN SHORT: Monk is not a one size fits all descriptor. There is probably more variation within "monk" than there is in "bushi," "courtier," or "shugenja." My opinions.

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13 hours ago, P'an Ku said:

Togashi monks are completely different from normal monks. While most of the same rules apply, Togashi monks are samurai caste. They hold rank but may still break many of the normal conventions that hold normal samurai. Kinda best of both worlds. Best I remember people didn't really trust Togashi monks as much as normal brotherhood monks. Only real downside.

The stereotype of the Togashi Monks (Ise Zumi) is that they talk in riddles that are vaguely prophetic or foreshadowing of future events ... but never make anything clear in the here and now.

 IMO its less an issue of trust (if they give their word to do X, then like all samurai they try to move Heaven and Earth to get X done). But they are wild cards! Everybody knows the Crane and Crabs/Lions/Scorpions have old rivalries and animosities. You can kinda predict what a Crane is going to do in many situations ... and that's true for the other Clans. But the Dragon Clan has always been aloof and the Ise Zumi are especially "different." You stick a random Ise Zumi in a sticky situation situation and you can't guess what they are going to do. Wild cards! AND they have "magical powers" ... that aren't derived from the favor of the kami! 

Bottom Line: An Ise Zumi shows up in the middle of your complicated plans? ... you have a problem.

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20 hours ago, Void Crane said:

The stereotype of the Togashi Monks (Ise Zumi) is that they talk in riddles that are vaguely prophetic or foreshadowing of future events ... but never make anything clear in the here and now.

 IMO its less an issue of trust (if they give their word to do X, then like all samurai they try to move Heaven and Earth to get X done). But they are wild cards! Everybody knows the Crane and Crabs/Lions/Scorpions have old rivalries and animosities. You can kinda predict what a Crane is going to do in many situations ... and that's true for the other Clans. But the Dragon Clan has always been aloof and the Ise Zumi are especially "different." You stick a random Ise Zumi in a sticky situation situation and you can't guess what they are going to do. Wild cards! AND they have "magical powers" ... that aren't derived from the favor of the kami! 

Bottom Line: An Ise Zumi shows up in the middle of your complicated plans? ... you have a problem.

The trust thing comes from the fact that the average person has no experience dealing with the Togashi. Plus the Togashi have weird powers that other people don't trust. Some people think its maho... not far off really. The wild card thing is also true but just being weird doesn't hurt them mostly because they won't explain themselves.

 

I do agree with your points though. The main reason most normal samurai don't trust them is because they act so much different from other monks and usually don't give a good reason. 

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Common shorthand? Most samurai unaware of a monk's name have generally gone with "monk-san" as a show of polite respect- although once a name is known, the "-san' honorific is often dropped.

 

At least in the various environments I've gamed in.

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Well, "hoshi" [法師] is a word for a bonze or buddhist priest, a title as it were, and could map perfectly well to use in Rokugan. That'd make it either a useful name-replacement (when you don't know the monk's name) or a good honorific (if you do). 

So, I'd say that either "[Name]-hoshi" or "Hoshi-san" would be appropriate. 

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Sorry to double-post, but thinking on it further: 

Rokugan makes a distinction between Shinseism and Fortunism. Those two map (roughly, loosely, if you squint) to Buddhism and Shinto in the real world. L5R, as a game, refers to the religious students (i.e. those who have the school) of both as "monks", but in Japan the Buddhists are called "hoshi" (per my last post) and the monks in Shinto are called (as a group) "shinshoku" [神職] (which is usually translated as "priest", not "monk"). So, you might use that to refer to a Fortunist, and hoshi to refer to a Shinseist. 

Ise Zumi are a funny sort because, well, in the game they're clearly inspired by Shaolin Monks who weren't Japanese at all... But they're also (pseudo)-Fortunist (because they follow Togashi), so maybe "hoshi" is still appropriate for them? 

(And I'm honestly straight-up not sure what a generic, non-denominational word for "monk" is in Japanese, if there even is one.)

Edited by ColdObiWan

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6 hours ago, ColdObiWan said:

Rokugan makes a distinction between Shinseism and Fortunism. Those two map (roughly, loosely, if you squint) to Buddhism and Shinto in the real world. L5R, as a game, refers to the religious students (i.e. those who have the school) of both as "monks", but in Japan the Buddhists are called "hoshi" (per my last post) and the monks in Shinto are called (as a group) "shinshoku" [神職] (which is usually translated as "priest", not "monk"). So, you might use that to refer to a Fortunist, and hoshi to refer to a Shinseist. 

Agreed. though not quite one to one I don't think  you need to squint that hard to see a correlation between Buddhism and Shinto to Shinseism and Fortunism.

However the split you suggest between monk and priest does not work well in the context of Rokugan. There is already a group of (usually NPC) priests. Priests work to mediate between mankind and the kami, usually at a shrine, but lack the awe inspiring ability of the Shugenja to talk directly with the kami. So they infer things by observation...and if things get hairy they send out word pretty quick for a shugenja to come and help. Some priests may be trained to importune the kami and have limited spell casting powers, but pretty much shugenja always outrank mere priests.

Most monks, instead of mediating between the kami and mankind, seek enlightenment. This is true for both the Shinseist monks and the Fortunist monks. Its also true for the Ise Zume (though as a samurai family, they have to be ready to go out and do the bidding of Togashi and the Dragon Clan).

I think the Kaito Shrine Keepers are the exceptions. It seems to me that in terms of duties they are closer to traditional Rokugan priests (mediate between the kamis and mankind) than traditional Rokugan monks (seek enlightenment). But perhaps they do a little of both. They are a relatively new thing. We mostly have a novella to explain who they are and what they do.

6 hours ago, ColdObiWan said:

Ise Zumi are a funny sort because, well, in the game they're clearly inspired by Shaolin Monks who weren't Japanese at all... But they're also (pseudo)-Fortunist (because they follow Togashi), so maybe "hoshi" is still appropriate for them? 

hoshi is an interesting possibility, but I don't think it maps to the Ise Zumi. Again, IMO an Ise Zumi is Togashi-san.

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Yeah, I don't think it makes sense to further divide Shinseism, Fortunism, and the Brotherhood, particularly when we already have the Shugenja/Monk divide.

Priest, IIRC, is Sō but monastic monks were Bonsō. As far as appelations went I've often seen Nyudō, but a quick peak at Sengoku Daimyo tells me that was an appelation used by lay priests. Monastics just appended bō to their region of origin.

As to what others would call them, -sensei does seem a common appelation but I gues it will depend on context.

 

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I agree that I'm probably putting too fine a grain on it, especially once we start including shugenja in the mix. 

If I had players and they were to ask, I'd probably steer them in the direction of -hoshi, even for the Ise Zumi ("Togashi-hoshi" for all of them, really), but I also think that "Togashi-san", "Monk-sensei", or "Monk-san" would be A-OK.

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On ‎2‎/‎22‎/‎2019 at 3:34 PM, Tonbo Karasu said:

Interestingly, last time round Togashi Hoshi was his son, who joined the Brotherhood after the 2nd Day of Thunder, and Hitomi's madness.

  The Hoshi became a family of the dragon clan, so I believe it's best to avoid "Hoshi" as an honorific.

  I really think honorifics should depend somewhat on the specific monk.  It might be appropriate to call a monk "sensei" if that monk spends some of their time teaching, but if they spend all their time cleaning the shrine I don't think "sensei" would be appropriate.  The head monk at a temple might be "master".  Other monks might call each other "brother".  The point here is that monks as a whole exist outside the order, and specific monks might find different paths toward enlightenment, which might earn them different honorifics..  many monks might even specifically forgo the use of honorifics.

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