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Mwysor

Lore question about monks and Shugenja!!

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So, I'm currently GMing the starter set of L5R (5e) for some friends. I was wondering if it's considered "dishonorable", or socially weird, for shugenja and Monks to fight (there is a brawl scene in a bar). Yet, another part of the starater book makes it seem like monks and shugenja are acting dishonorably if they engage in fist fighting and what not. Any clarification would be great!!

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Well, both are holy people, generally more ascetic than most samurai, so less concerned about worldly matters and issues of the flesh. So, in that sense, since they are considered to moral and spiritual guardians and shepherds for the people of the Empire, it isn't unreasonable for there to be a broad expectation that they'll conduct themselves with proper propriety. Even in our world, I think there's a general expectation that priests and ministers and imams and the like aren't going to go about flinging themselves into brawls, and would actually try to defuse and de-escalate such situations.

But.

The reality is that shugenja and monks are people. When we create them as characters, we go through the same 20 questions we do for bushi, etc. They have passions, flaws, beliefs, values, biases and the like that they bring into their interactions with others. So of course some of them are going to occasionally "lose it" and do things that certainly don't seem very "holy". Will that come across as unseemly or inappropriate to other Rokugani? Yes, it probably will, at least in a very general way. Shugenja and monks are, again, holy people, who are expected to act as moral compasses...so when they're throwing punches in a bar brawl, it would probably seem rather off-putting to a lot of other samurai. 

There's another "but", though, and that's about the samurai witnessing it. Some, who have very traditional and specific views of the Rokugani clergy, may be outraged at this behavior. Others may be outraged that these holy figures are being subjected to such behavior. Either of these types may intervene. Others may choose to simply politely ignore what's going on, as though it's not happening at all. And still others may be intrigued, amused or even impressed. So, while I'd suggest there'd probably be a broad, diffuse "discomfort" with what's going on, the reactions to it by others would probably be all over the map.

Finally, I'd note that situations in which the monk or shugenja has been attacked, and are simply defending themselves, or a situation in which they are fighting in an actual skirmish or battle, are different. In such cases, it's not unreasonable for holy people to mix it up and most Rokugani would probably see it that way. But for shugenja or monk to go out drinkin', and end up in a swirling donnybrook of fists and sake bottles...well, yes, that would probably be seen as somewhat unseemly by most Rokugani.

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19 minutes ago, DGLaderoute said:

But for shugenja or monk to go out drinkin', and end up in a swirling donnybrook of fists and sake bottles...well, yes, that would probably be seen as somewhat unseemly by most Rokugani.

Agreed.

But - to be fair - only slightly more unseemly than any samurai doing it. You're all supposed to be paragons of self-control and courtesy, after all. 

It would depend on the personality of the monk/shujenga and the situation. After all, the same thing applies to Occidental priest and monks but no-one bats an eye (to use a western narrative example) at Friar Tuck thumping Robin Hood when they first meet.

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43 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Agreed.

But - to be fair - only slightly more unseemly than any samurai doing it. You're all supposed to be paragons of self-control and courtesy, after all. 

It would depend on the personality of the monk/shujenga and the situation. After all, the same thing applies to Occidental priest and monks but no-one bats an eye (to use a western narrative example) at Friar Tuck thumping Robin Hood when they first meet.

True, but I think eyebrows wouldn't be raised as much if a bushi ended up in a sake house brawl, as opposed to a shugenja. Moreover, there'd probably be some biases related to clans and families; it would probably seem more inappropriate for, say, a Crane or Phoenix to engage in fisticuffs than, say, a Crab (especially a Hida) or a Yoritomo. Reputations really do precede people!

But you're right...samurai are generally supposed to be better than all that. The fact that most of them aren't doesn't change the way it SHOULD be (and, again, the difference from the way things SHOULD be versus how they ARE is where a lot of the story's drama comes from!)

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what happens in the sake house stays in the sake house.  Furthermore, the Togashi order are specifically warrior monks.

  generally speaking, rokugani probably don't expect to see monks and shugenja (or courtiers for that matter) engaging in fisticuffs..  at the same time, all samurai are warriors to a degree..  if a shrine is attacked, the monks there will fight.. it's their duty to protect the shrine.  Shugenja will do whatever they deem necessary to defend the spiritual purity of the samurai, and if that means mixing it up with someone whose trying to desecrate the ancestral armor of the mouse clan, then the shugenja should be ready to fight.

  To my knowledge, the only samurai who don't fight under any circumstances are the Ide family.

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7 hours ago, Black_Rabbit_Inle said:

what happens in the sake house stays in the sake house.  Furthermore, the Togashi order are specifically warrior monks.

  generally speaking, rokugani probably don't expect to see monks and shugenja (or courtiers for that matter) engaging in fisticuffs..  at the same time, all samurai are warriors to a degree..  if a shrine is attacked, the monks there will fight.. it's their duty to protect the shrine.  Shugenja will do whatever they deem necessary to defend the spiritual purity of the samurai, and if that means mixing it up with someone whose trying to desecrate the ancestral armor of the mouse clan, then the shugenja should be ready to fight.

  To my knowledge, the only samurai who don't fight under any circumstances are the Ide family.

The Asahina are famously pacifist, and Kakita Yoshi (at least used to) labour under a curse where he couldn't wield a weapon.

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Monks can totally engage in fistfights, randomly jumping into a tavern brawl with Kihos blazing is a very monk thing to do in a "if understanding must come to you in a shape of my fist, then so be it" way. 

The Shugenja are more complicated because they are not supposed to be martial period. So having  Shugenja engage in a fistfight is like having a painter or a geisha do the same. It is just... a bizarre sight to behold. A Shugenja blasting a tavern brawl into pieces with a fireball is a whole different matter tho, and is more akin of a supernatural intervention for others than actually throwing weight in a fight. 

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I would think that there are a number of monastic groups that get into trouble all the time. And not just the Ise Zumi. Are you playing a Fortunist monk dedicated to Osano-wo? I bet you are not living a meek quite life. Bishamon? Similar. In fact they get mentioned in Emerald Empire for the headaches they sometimes cause ... and the trouble with standing them down without causing a local riot. The Shinsei-ist monks? Maybe a lot less "boisterous,"...but if a cause or circumstance feels right then they are probably not going to be shy about defending something either.

Bottom line. A monk in a bar room brawl may gain or loose honor. But it should be for the causes embraced and actions taken...not  from the fact that a monk is fighting.

Like others, I think Shugen-ja fist fighting is an incident that raises more eyebrows. Even if its weird and a story remembered for years to come, I don't think they gain dishonor unless the choice to fight itself is dishonorable. Using the Kami to tear apart ordinary people (ronin) knocking heads is probably not very honorable...

My 2 cents

 

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