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Questions about Emperor & Clans/Families

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OK. So there's 7 great clans plus a number of minor clans. Each clan has several (more or less) important families. Got that.

How does the Emperor fit into that scheme?

Is the Emperor from a specific clan, or does he (& his lineage) transcend clan? How about his family? Assuming he/they are not from a clan per se, are there a bunch of people in this royal non-clan "clan" in service to him, or is it just a relatively small # of folks (immediate family) and all (some?) of the clans supply the lesser nobles and others that directly serve him?

Just trying to understand the structure and relation of the Emperor and the clans.

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The Emperor is separate from the 7 Great Clans, but the Imperial Families are basically a miniature clan in their own right. Hantei is the Emperor, as well as the name given to his children including the crown prince/princess and any other pre-gempukku children. The Otomo family are the major courtiers of the Imperial Families and often act either as administrators or as ambassadors in the courts of other clans. Most children of emperors who won't go on to become emperors themselves join this family at their gempukku, disavowing any claim to the throne (unless something terrible happens).

The Seppun family is charged with protecting the Hantei from threats both physical and spiritual. They are the shugenja family and the bushi family of the Imperial Families. Some children of emperors join this family instead.

The final family is the Miya. They are heralds, bringing news and Imperial decrees all across Rokugan. One of the most beloved families in all of Rokugan, among both samurai and peasants.

 

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The Emperor has tremendous power in Rokugan.

In theory the Emperor owns all the land, and leases it out to the Great and Lesser Clans.  In theory the Emperor can tell anyone to pack up and move ... redistributing the land. The Emperor also hosts the most important court where all the most important decisions get made. The Emperor also has a lot of human capital like the Emerald Magistrates/Champion who man the criminal courts & enforce Imperial Law. The Emperor is also (usually) the DIRECT descendant of the kami Hantei who prevailed over the other kami in their contest at the Empires founding.  A lot of tradition has also built up over the last thousand years that helps elevate the man or woman sitting on the Throne. There is a presumed/actual Mandate from the Heavens that the Emperor enjoys. Going directly against the Imperial Throne is also pretty much directly going against Rokugan society. If a Great Clan moved against the Emperor all the other Clans would almost certainly rise up against them.

The Emperor has tremendous power in Rokugan.

That said ... it's arguable that at different times and places the Great Clans are more impactful than the Emperor (and the Imperial families) in deciding the outcome of events. It's (almost) unthinkable that the Lion Clan would fight the Imperial Family. But it's also true that the Lion armies vastly dwarf the Imperial & would crush them on the battlefield. It's not really possible to go head to head with the Imperial families in court - none the less the influence of the Crane and the Scorpion are vast and they are very good at getting the Imperial Court to do what they want. The Phoenix are somewhat standoffish in court politics but at regarded as the religious authorities in Rokugan. And ALL the Great Clans are vigilant in protecting their various interests. An Emperor who tried to undermine the privileges of the Great Clans would find a lot of foot dragging and indirect opposition. After a reign of terror, no one shed a tear when Hantei the XVI was deposed & replaced by another of the line. An Emperor who tried to unilaterally remove a Great Clan from their lands probably finds it A LOT more difficult than just writing the order.

In other words the Emperor is hemmed in by complicated politics on all sides. An Emperor who learns to "surf the waves" of Rokugan politics does well. One that tries to act like a dictator probably becomes ineffectual. 

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The Empire traces its heritage back to the Kami falling out of the heavens.

The Imperial Families are descended from a Kami just like the Lion Clan is descended from Akodo, the Crane from Doji, the Crab from Hida and so on; generally (but not exclusively - such as with the Phoenix) the ruling family is the descendants of the founding Kami and takes their name. 

  • Generally, the ruler of a great clan is the Daimyo of the ruling family, who is the descendant of the Kami (Akodo Toturi, for the sake of example). They are technically personal vassals of the Emperor.
    • Below them are the rest of the ruling family (other Akodo) and also the Daimyo of the other clan families (such as the Matsu). 
      • The clan families have their vassals in turn (such as the - now extinct - Damasu no Akodo, an Akodo vassal family), each ruled on their liege's behalf by a lower-ranked Daimyo

 

The imperial families are organised in the same way (ruling family, other families, vassal families), but are descended from the first Emperor, the Kami Hantei, and are therefore an entity outside any single great clan. As noted, they probably lag behind any single great clan in military force, but are at least in the same league, and have the advantage that it's almost unthinkable that anyone would be fighting them in the first place (and if they were, there would almost certainly be 'loyal' clans on the imperial side against the 'rebels'). Plus, the Imperials basically exist to protect the Emperor, on the throne in Otosan Uchi, the capital, which is an incredibly strong defensive position.

 

Minor clans are those not descended from a great clan, or else 'offshoots' of a great clan, which have nevertheless been recognised by the Emperor as seperate entities. 

 

Obviously in practice, everyone is decended from everyone. In 1,000 years of Rokugani history, it's almost ridiculous to suggest that there hasn't been  multiple marriages combining any given pairing of great clans and/or imperial families. But that's not the point. 

 

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10 minutes ago, Magnus Grendel said:

Obviously in practice, everyone is decended from everyone. In 1,000 years of Rokugani history, it's almost ridiculous to suggest that there hasn't been  multiple marriages combining any given pairing of great clans and/or imperial families. But that's not the point. 

While that's true in pure medical terms, mystically things like who married into which family are very important.

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Despite the established order, the history of Rokugan is rife with times where there were conflicts immediately between the Great Clans and the Emperor.  The most notable and recognized was the time of the Gozoku when a coalition of the Great Clans ran the Empire according to their clan's goals rather than the Will of the Emperor.  More details of this can be found in Emerald Empire.

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On ‎4‎/‎8‎/‎2019 at 2:38 AM, Void Crane said:

That said ... it's arguable that at different times and places the Great Clans are more impactful than the Emperor (and the Imperial families) in deciding the outcome of events. It's (almost) unthinkable that the Lion Clan would fight the Imperial Family. But it's also true that the Lion armies vastly dwarf the Imperial & would crush them on the battlefield. It's not really possible to go head to head with the Imperial families in court - none the less the influence of the Crane and the Scorpion are vast and they are very good at getting the Imperial Court to do what they want. 

  I think it would be more accurate to say that it's possible to go head to head with the imperial families in court  until the emperor himself weighs in.  The emperor usually marries a crane, so the wife and the mother of most emperors is likely to have ties to the crane.  While the seppun or otomo might be able to cut off official contact from the crane to the emperor, the emperor is bound to see his family at some point.  IIRC, when the unicorn returned to Rokugan, they had to go through the crane clan in order to get acceptance from the emperor (they had presented the crane with a mirror that Lady Doji had given to Lady Shinjo).  Also, while the office is newly created, Bayushi Kachiko is the chief advisor to the emperor.. so the scorpion and crane at least have some pretty direct routes to try to influence the emperor..  once he makes up his mind though, there's not much they can do.

  Militarily, the situation is almost reverse.  The seppun guard and emerald magistrate's army can't really stand up to most clan armies.. let alone the lion clan.  The emperor pretty much relies on other clans to defend him in this case.. which is a large part of why the otomo try to keep the clans fighting each other.  This way the emperor would always have natural allies, even if the clans really didn't like/support the emperor.

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