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BowelEvacuation

How do you Koku?

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So I've started my first campaign as DM (beginners game with some home brew content threaded through). My players asked how they earn/make koku in order to afford better armor. I actually have no answer as

1 there's no mention of that in rulebook that I'm aware of.

2 Samurai shouldn't really be concerned with money 

 

I know this is technically not a rules question but I wasn't sure where to ask. Can anyone give me an idea or two of how you approach this topic in your games?

 

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So, theoretically, if they wanted better armor, the most samurai thing to do would be to either hammer it out themselves or make a request of their lord. And depending on the circumstance, their lord should be generous - any job where you might be in a combative position you should be armed with at least Ashigaru Armor. Or maybe drop a polite Command test on a heimin armorsmith in the local biz, but there's whole threads about that. 

While I haven't used it personally, I've seen some people say they choose the familial koku as kind of like their stipend over a period of time, such as a year, a season, etc. This would be good to represent those with maybe some flexible resources, you have a little "discretionary cash" not for your own benefit of course, but to pay any vassals working under you for their work as is good and just. It's also been remarked on in the fiction that clans do economic trade on many levels, including even the Crane "selling off" some art, but at the moment the game doesn't really handle pricing of ephemera like that, so that's kind of on you to figure out how much cash you want to throw at players. Maybe something like the initial Artisan skill sets the rarity/quality of the piece, then a Commerce check would be how much you can sell it for. 

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1 hour ago, UnitOmega said:

So, theoretically, if they wanted better armor, the most samurai thing to do would be to either hammer it out themselves or make a request of their lord. And depending on the circumstance, their lord should be generous - any job where you might be in a combative position you should be armed with at least Ashigaru Armor. Or maybe drop a polite Command test on a heimin armorsmith in the local biz, but there's whole threads about that. 

While I haven't used it personally, I've seen some people say they choose the familial koku as kind of like their stipend over a period of time, such as a year, a season, etc. This would be good to represent those with maybe some flexible resources, you have a little "discretionary cash" not for your own benefit of course, but to pay any vassals working under you for their work as is good and just. It's also been remarked on in the fiction that clans do economic trade on many levels, including even the Crane "selling off" some art, but at the moment the game doesn't really handle pricing of ephemera like that, so that's kind of on you to figure out how much cash you want to throw at players. Maybe something like the initial Artisan skill sets the rarity/quality of the piece, then a Commerce check would be how much you can sell it for. 

Thanks for the in depth reply. It's such a departure from the norm (i.e. gold looting in traditional RPG's) ill take your advice and work on it. 

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For specific mechanics, look to Requisitions, on page 230.

"...sometimes a character might think of an item their lord has not provided to them. Broaching this subject is not easy, but it can be necessary to success. As a downtime activity or during a narrative scene in which the character has access to their lord (or a representative thereof), a character may make a Courtesy check to request the use of an item they need to perform their work. At the GM’s discretion, the character might have to make a check with a different skill (such as Culture, Government, or Tactics) to convince their lord of the importance of the matter instead. The TN of the check is equal to the rarity of the item minus the character’s glory rank (to a minimum of 1). If the character succeeds, their lord (or the lord’s representative) sees to getting the item for them."

So if you're going out realistically expecting a big fight, or even specifically heading to an ongoing battlefield, you could requisition lacquered armour from your lord's castle armoury.

Assuming a starting glory rank of 4 against laquered armour's rarity 6, that makes it a TN2 courtesy check - hardly automatic, but doable.

The item is technically not 'yours' it's 'loaned', but then technically everything a samurai possesses up to and including their continued survival belongs to their lord anyway. The only real impact is if they're likely to ask for it back (I'd suggest if you want the item indefinitely it might increase the TN, or if you only need it briefly it might reduce it)

I would suggest that "my lord, we may also need some immediately accessible funds for [credible reason]" is also a sensible request, and the GM can set a TN for a bag of ready cash for the mission.

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5 hours ago, BowelEvacuation said:

So I've started my first campaign as DM (beginners game with some home brew content threaded through). My players asked how they earn/make koku in order to afford better armor. I actually have no answer as

1 there's no mention of that in rulebook that I'm aware of.

2 Samurai shouldn't really be concerned with money 

 

I know this is technically not a rules question but I wasn't sure where to ask. Can anyone give me an idea or two of how you approach this topic in your games?

 

As @UnitOmega mentioned, the thing to do is to appeal to your Lord.  There are specifically rules for doing that in the rulebook on Pg 229.  

However, there are other ways, for the right sort of characters or the right sort of place

  • If you've got a bunch of ronin, they can hire themselves out to defend against bandits either at a specific location or as caravan guards
  • If you've got a bunch of dubious ronin, they could be those bandits
  • In big cities, especially Ryoko Owari but I would not be surprised if it happened in Khanbulak and Otosan Uchi too, individual samurai can be merchant patrons - which is basically a legal version of a protection racket.  The samurai agrees to protect the merchant against criminal elements, tout their wares (more or less subtly), intimidate rivals etc and in exchange gets part of the profits.
  • I would say that titles and positions get you an increased stipend, although that could be represented by the Status rank having an effect on the family stipend.  The Emerald Magistrates of Roko Owari get given 100 Koku each to cover their expenses for a year.
  • Being bribed is a thing you could use to test your players' resolve - "Forgive my clumsiness, samurai-sama, i appear to have lost a purse of Koku somewhere.  If I may be so bold, have you been able to complete my tax assessment?"
  • In the old Lore, the Wasp clan were sometimes bounty hunters.  That implies that there were bounties that a samurai could receive for tracking down criminals, if they happen to come across any not as part of their duties.
  • All sorts of competitions between nobles have valuable prizes - there's a hunting competition in Ryoko Owari where the prize is a masterwork saddle.  Now, selling these would be dishonourable, but if you were to present a masterwork saddle to that Ide who patronises an armoursmith as an expression of your esteem it's always possible that he would grant you a gift of work of his craftsman.
  • Gambling.  I'm not talking about such crass things as fortunes and winds for zeni and bu.  There have been all sorts of wagers in various places - "I wager my horse against yours that I can circle the city 3 times before you can do it once.", "This masterpiece netsuke suggests that the Phoenix Clan sumai will be eliminated in the first round of the tournament." etc

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Posted (edited)

So something to keep in mind is that starting equipment is (and always has been, regardless of edition) woefully incomplete.

Honestly? I'd just use it as a jumping off point and let your characters decide (with GM approval, of course) what other things of value they might have.

For instance, every single samurai is going to own a katana, whether they wear it in public or not, but you won't find that included in starting packages for non-bushi schools like shugenja or courtier.
Most (if not every) samurai family is going to have a generational set of O-Yoroi armor that is kept in a place of reverence until necessary to use for war, but you won't find anything of the sort in a starting pack unless you're a Hida.
The starting koku in anyone's pack is a pittance - consider reference sources like the Yamada Trilogy of films [Twilight Samurai, etc] where a "30 koku samurai" was basically poor, but 30 koku is wildly above what the game would offer you.
Even the lowliest samurai are still nobles and would likely have a home with at least one retainer to tend to everyday chores (certainly not included in starting packs, lol).

Now, not every samurai will own a pony, and certainly not a well-bred horse (Unicorn excepted) - most won't in fact, or have access to anything and everything they could ever want, vast sums of koku, exotic finery, etc. But economics is a *huge* part of Rokugan (it's a major point for clans like the Crane, Unicorn, and to a lesser extent the Mantis). Samurai *will* and should care about wealth, to a point.
The important thing to remember is that discussing funds and bartering and the like are considered uncouth and something "civilized samurai" wouldn't do. But worrying about and needing wealth are entirely different. :)

Edited by Bayushi Tsubaki

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In an entirely different thread discussing the money problem (When do we get a real Merchant's Guide to Rokugan FFG? I want to calculate my seasonal gains for patronage of a business!) I think the suggestion I liked the most is that your stipend is Starting Koku (base wealth of your Family) x Status Rank, paid out however often you feel you need. 

Though for the campaign I'm sketching right now their Lord is gonna just hand them a war chest with a lot of koku in it as their travel budget and then we'll see what happens.

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Posted (edited)
On 7/12/2019 at 5:43 PM, AndyDay303 said:

That’s a LOT of koku. You may want to consider giving them an idea of what to spend it all on. 

I think that's the real issue when ya get down to brass tacks - there isn't an economy to participate in, so having extra koku gets pretty useless pretty fast.
Buy the best armor(s), weapon(s), a horse or 3 and then... what? You're done? lol

Maybe an economy would be too much bloat and be too much of a distraction from the politics and intrigue and what not, but on the other hand the game is much more story-focused than adventure-focused, so there's a LOT of in-game time to kill and not much to kill it on, IMO.

Edited by Bayushi Tsubaki

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8 hours ago, Bayushi Tsubaki said:

I think that's the real issue when ya get down to brass tacks - there isn't an economy to participate in, so having extra koku gets pretty useless pretty fast.
Buy the best armor(s), weapon(s), a horse or 3 and then... what? You're done? lol

Maybe an economy would be too much bloat and be too much of a distraction from the politics and intrigue and what not, but on the other hand the game is much more story-focused than adventure-focused, so there's a LOT of in-game time to kill and not much to kill it on, IMO.

I don’t think having more stuff to spend moola on would be bad. 

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9 hours ago, Bayushi Tsubaki said:

I think that's the real issue when ya get down to brass tacks - there isn't an economy to participate in, so having extra koku gets pretty useless pretty fast.
Buy the best armor(s), weapon(s), a horse or 3 and then... what? You're done? lol

Maybe an economy would be too much bloat and be too much of a distraction from the politics and intrigue and what not, but on the other hand the game is much more story-focused than adventure-focused, so there's a LOT of in-game time to kill and not much to kill it on, IMO.

I«m increasingly thinking of tacking more and more of Pendragon's manor management to any version of L5R I make. It's simple enough to not require much bookkeeping and comes with built in hooks and plots. I should really get to it and do some presentable, coherent version of it.

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10 hours ago, Suzume Chikahisa said:

I«m increasingly thinking of tacking more and more of Pendragon's manor management to any version of L5R I make. It's simple enough to not require much bookkeeping and comes with built in hooks and plots. I should really get to it and do some presentable, coherent version of it.

That sounds interesting. 

My mind is turned towards giving players social and religious things to spend money on. Make offerings at shrines. Pray at temples. Throw a party. Buy fancy cloths for court scenes. Buy schnazy gifts. Buy rumors and secrets. 

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Fair enough.

I guess you can reduce most of those to 'normal' skill checks - broadly speaking acquiring snazzy clothes to show off in court is a Design/Innovate (Fire) check.

That can apply whether you made the item or (more likely) had it made to your specification. A famous designer and 'throwing koku at it' would be skilled assistance and a TN reduction respectively.

Similarly, Parties, offerings, rumours and secrets may - narratively - be powered in part by a chunk of cash but what you're trying to do is gain the favour of the court, the spirits (or at least the priests), and the more nefarious and corruptible - so culture/performance, theology/courtesy, and skulduggery. respectively 

 

I think knowing how often and to what order of magnitude you can Grytpype-Thynn your way through problems* is useful, but an exact financial measure doesn't really work. I do think that the general 'vagueness' of currency value in Rokugan, combined with not wanting the game to turn into an estate-management mini-game, means that something not a million miles from a 'wealth' stat which one can check against might be useful.

 

 

 

* The Goon Show, if you've not seen it.

"He tells me he wants to die rich."

"And so he shall. Give him this bag of gold and then strangle him."

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Or accept that Rokugan isn't a capitalistic economical system.  It is a feudal agrarian barter economy.

Unlike the money as we know and use today, a koku doesn't have any intrinsic value on its own.  Instead it is a symbol (technically, an IOU but we'll get back to that.) for something that has value in Rokugan. Rice! That means you can't earn koku, you can only grow it.

(This is incidental the reason why money and commerce is seen as something dirty and unbecoming for a samurai. Rice is produced, grown, through manual labour and a honourable samurai should stand above manual labour. As a koku is a symbol for rice, it by association is also symbol for manual labour. So just as an honourable samurai should stand above manual labour he/she must also stand above money and commerce.)

So how does it affect the economy in Rokugan. In other words, how does it all work.

To start with no rice, no koku. This is a literal truth. Each koku represent the amount of rice it takes to feed a peasant with rice for one whole year. (In the real world in edo period Japan that was about 5 bushels. Don't ask me how much that is.)  Each great clan mint their own coinage each year based on their harvest. Minus what they owe in taxes to the emperor. Why minus what they owe in taxes? Because the tax to the emperor is literally paid in rice. So each clan have to lug thousands sacks of rice to the emperor to pay their taxes. (And I assume that based on the rice he receive the emperor in turn mint his own koku.)

So let say, the great and awesome Pokemon clan grows a 1000 bushels of rice a good year. Now the emperor will want his share which will most likely be a lions share, let's for the sake of convenience say half but it would probably be more. This leaves the Pokemon clan with 500 bushels of rice to mint koku from. Except they need to eat some of the rice to survive so in the end they only have 200 bushels left. 200/5 = 40. So in the end the Pokemon clan is the not so rich owners of 40 koku to trade with.

Unfortunately, next year there is a drought and the Pokemon clan only managed to grown 800 bushels of rice. Oy vey.   Of course the emperor still require his cut of half their harvest leaving them with only 400 bushels and they still need to eat. Can't let the peasants starve to death as they are needed to grow the next year's harvest. No peasants, no harvest and the clan is bankrupt.  So the bad year the Pokemon clan is only able to mint 20 koku. The bad harvest literally cut the clans fortune in half.

Of course, not all clans is as lucky as the Pokemon clan by being able to grow their own rice. The Dragon clan's lands are located in the mountains of Great Wall of the North, which isn't exactly good rice growing country. Yet the tax to the emperor still have to be paid in rice. Luckily, the dragon clan have rich mines. So they instead of grow rice, they mine iron and then goes to their good friends the Lion clan who has fertile rice growing lands and says; "Hey buddies, you want to go to war and need swords for that.  You grow more rice than you need on your lands but you can't grow swords. Luckily, I have all the ore for swords you need and I will give the ore for all the rice you can spare."  And so the two clans barter ore for rice so that the Lion can go to war with new swords and the dragon can pay their taxes.

And most commerce and trade in Rokugan has that character. A straight up barter of goods. From the peasant trading a chicken for a new knife to a great clan trading a valuable commodity for another, with rice being the most valuable.

The need for koku is rare and is generally only used when a person or clan doesn't have a commodity the other part wants.

Let's say the proud Lion doesn't want new swords as everyone knows that the old swords the ancestors used is so much better so they don't want to trade with the Dragon clan for ore. Luckily, the Phoenix clan wants the Dragon's ore for bells in their temples and shrines. Now the Phoenix clan can grow their own rice but only enough for their own needs, in other words enough to pay their taxes. However, as fate would have it the Phoenix clan just traded a bunch of wood to the Crane clan to be made into three-ply toilet paper as the Crane clan is far too sensitive to use mere two-ply paper. But as mentioned the Phoenix clan grows all the rice it needs so the Crane clan gave them a large pile of koku instead of rice.

Now, the Phoenix clan can't give the Dragon the rice it needs but it can give the Dragon clan the koku it got from the Crane. So  they trade ore for koku.

Of course, the Dragon still needs rice so it has to go to the Crane clan and say; "look I got a pile of your koku. I want the rice this represent." And the Crane clan has no other choice but to hand it over or admit that they are cheats and frauds and that their coin doesn't have any value. So naturally, the Crane take back their koku and happily give the Dragon rice instead.

Which shows how koku is nothing more than a symbol for rice and  how it's value stems from it being a substitute, an IOU, for a fixed amount of rice.  Unlike a gold coin in DnD  whose value comes from the amount a gold it contain or a dollar whose value comes from what certain economical institutions agree on what it value is. 

Which in turn is a segue to commerce in Rokugan. A clan needs more than just rice to function. It needs steel for tools, weapons and armour. Jade and other precious stones for protection and jewellery. Wood for construction and paper. And so on.  Most of which they need to turn to another clan to get or rather trade. Most of the time it will probably be a straight up trade or barter.  Other times koku is substituted as payment. But the purpose of every trade, every deal is to provide for the needs of the clan.

Unlike, in a capitalistic society like our own, the goal of commerce in Rokugan isn't to make a profit but to ensure that the clan has everything it needs to function. Once it that is accomplish there is little need for any further trade. The reason the Crane clan is one of the most powerful clans in Rokugan (at least before recent events in the lore) is because it is largely self-sustaining while producing a large surplus in rice. Instead, of lining their coffers by selling the surplus for a profit as we would expect in our society, they give the surplus away as gifts to less fortunate clans in return for future favours in court. Essentially the Crane pay the other clans' taxes to get their support in the emperors court. 

The focus of commerce on providing for the clan's needs instead of profit is the reason there are no real merchant guilds or independent merchants in Rokugan.  At least not above the level of shop owners or itinerant peddlers. If you trade in bulk you most certainly does it in the service of a clan.  Of course, since money equal labour which a honourable samurai should be above, the clans need Bonge middlemen to act as merchants though under the strict guidance of a Samurai patron.  But even they should take care not to do it for a profit.

Naturally, every one wants to make a good deal and it's only human to want something extra for your trouble (especially as a bonge merchant) but to be in it to make as huge profit as possible is more than frowned on. For a Samurai it can even be against Bushido. It is the reason way materialism is something negative for a character. For the same reason a very dutiful and honourable samurai patron might not take or receive anything extra from the commerce he/she controls, being perfectly happy with what his/her lord provides. 

Now why might that be. It brings us to the feudal part of Rokugan economy and player characters personally economy.  The most valuable commodity is as we have establish rice. The reason for this is because rice comes from the land and all land in Rokugan belongs to the emperor making it sacred. Thus all rice in Rokugan belong to the emperor and everyone else, from the lowest hinnin to the loftiest Clan Champion, is there to serve the emperor by taking care of the land. In return the emperor graciously grant every person in Rokugan a suitable stipend for their station in return for their service to him and the land.

A peasant grows the emperor's rice and in return is allowed to keep enough food for his family to live on until the next harvest. A local lord collects the rice and administer the villages under is charge and in return is allowed to live in large house with servants to care for his needs and ji-samurai to help him protect the land. The local lord gives the rice to a provincial daimyon, who in turn maintain the province infrastructure and keeps an army for its defence. For this the Daimyon receives a castle with hundreds of servants and samurai to assist him in his duties. The daimyon gives the rice to the clan champion who gets a even bigger castle and in return gives the rice to the emperor. Who, assumedly, spends most of his time eating a **** load of rice.

Now practically this stipend comes from your clan and is granted by the guy above you in the hierarchy but technically it comes from the emperor. 

Which brings us back to the problem with making a profit.  By making a profit you are taking more than your share of rice and the guy you're taking it from is none other the the sacred Emperor himself.  Making a profit in Rokugan is literally stealing from god.

Which finally brings us to the OP's question "How do you Koku?".

The short answer is: You don't. You just don't steal from god.

The longer answer is: You don't because it is assumed that your lord has provided you with everything you need to perform your duties according to your station. This includes full room and board, medical services, clothing and any other accoutrements you might need.   If something breaks, you go to your lord for him to replace it or pay for its repairs. If you duties change so you need new equipment you go to your lord for him to grant it. If you lack something you need to perform your duties, you go to your lord for him to provide it. And if he doesn't you can protest to your lord, hoping he will change his mind. If he doesn't you can either accept it and make do, keep protesting by either leaving his service by joining the Brotherhood or committing seppuku. Unless, you think his refusal is gross negligence in which case you can go to your lord's lord and complain. In which case there are really only two outcomes. Either your lord's lord agrees with you by making your lord commit seppuku for his negligence with you doing the same next to him for ratting out your boss. Or he disagrees with you  and you still have to kill yourself for telling on your boss.

Of course, the stipend often include coin in the form of a few koku. Someone mention treating the starting koku as an allowance.  I'd say that is spot on.  Normally I'd say that represented the amount of a yearly allowance because that was basically what it was. But because of the actually prices in the rulebook if I ran a game I'd probably treat them as a monthly allowance. (1 bu for a bottle of sake is the real world equivalent of a 1000 dollar bottle of champagne).

(Don't forget that the 4-5 koku you get is really a crap load of money. 1 koku represent the amount a peasant need to live on for a year. It is a year's wage for a peasant so as a samurai that coin is equivalent of a 6 figure salary in the real world.)

Now you're not supposed to use the money to buy equipment or stuff you need for yourself. That would be insulting to your lord. Basically, stating for anyone to see that he is unable to care for his subject and claiming he is unable to perform his duty.

So what do you use the koku for if not for stuff for yourself. Mostly, you use it for gifts and entertainment. Gift giving is important so most of the stuff you buy should be for others including your lord. Of course, going to a tea house or the theatre isn't free but everyone even samurai needs to relax and enjoy themselves at times. (And bullying innkeepers to get free drinks usually only works once or twice.)

The koku is also there so you can support yourself when your lord can't do it directly. For example when you travel through another clan's lands. Your lord has no power to provide for you there but through the allowance he can still do so indirectly thus fulfilling his obligation to you as his lord.

From a gaming perspective, forget about players earning gold DnD style, forget about them going shopping for gear.  Just give them when you think they need and if they want anything else make them make their case in front of their lord and decide if it is good enough for him to relent, through dice rolls or roleplay  is up to you. And if they want something they shouldn't have just deny them.

They want a rope for a mission, just make them go to the castles store room and take one.

They're going to war, have their lord give the armour they need, and once the war is over have the lord take it back.

The courtier wants a cool katan like the one the bushi have. Tell him to forget it. It's not part of his duty and should never be.

And only make them pay cash for something when they are in a situation where their lord can't  or shouldn't do it for them.

 

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Posted (edited)
9 hours ago, Chryckan said:

So let say, the great and awesome Pokemon clan grows a 1000 bushels of rice a good year. Now the emperor will want his share which will most likely be a lions share, let's for the sake of convenience say half but it would probably be more. This leaves the Pokemon clan with 500 bushels of rice to mint koku from. Except they need to eat some of the rice to survive so in the end they only have 200 bushels left. 200/5 = 40. So in the end the Pokemon clan is the not so rich owners of 40 koku to trade with.

Unfortunately, next year there is a drought and the Pokemon clan only managed to grown 800 bushels of rice. Oy vey.   Of course the emperor still require his cut of half their harvest leaving them with only 400 bushels and they still need to eat. Can't let the peasants starve to death as they are needed to grow the next year's harvest. No peasants, no harvest and the clan is bankrupt.  So the bad year the Pokemon clan is only able to mint 20 koku. The bad harvest literally cut the clans fortune in half.

Pretty much all correct - and well explained - with a couple of observations:

A koku - the feudal Japanese measure, at least, which one assumes the rokugani measure matches - is about 150 kg of rice, or just shy of a 1kg supermarket bag of rice every couple of days.

Taxes aren't too bad, based on emerald empire

These types of taxes are normally taken as a fixed portion of goods produced. For example, farmers may be required to pay one of every ten koku (one koku is about five bushels) of rice they produce as taxes to their samurai lord. The actual amount varies based on factors such as the quantity of rice and other commodities produced that year, the effects of droughts or blights on crops, and the needs and even whims of the lord in question.

There's a degree in flexible value to Koku because each Koku theoretically represents the same amount, but at least some of the trading (and hence koku transactions) will have started before the harvest date. Commerce happens all-year-round, and earlier in the year, a lot of the koku involved will be promissory notes, or, at best, backed by laid-down rice in the clan's storehouses (which may technically be also promised to other koku in circulation 'last' year but hopefully they won't need to call on it). The reason there's an exchange rate between different clan's koku is based on confidence in their forthcoming harvest and what amount of said harvest is pre-spoken-for

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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On 7/16/2019 at 3:39 AM, Suzume Chikahisa said:

I«m increasingly thinking of tacking more and more of Pendragon's manor management to any version of L5R I make. It's simple enough to not require much bookkeeping and comes with built in hooks and plots. I should really get to it and do some presentable, coherent version of it.

I've been thinking the same, my players certainly did seem to enjoy the 'managing a manor' part of the Pendragon campaign I ran 2 years ago.

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On ‎7‎/‎19‎/‎2019 at 1:41 PM, AndyDay303 said:

While I agree about the value of koku, I don’t really want to spend time worrying about macroeconomics in my fantasy samurai game. 

To be honest, as far as I'm concerned it boils down to "the Koku in your pocket is worth what the GM says it is" on the understanding that the farther you are from 'home' and/or the worse your harvests and general clan economy has been, the less that is. I'd not deny a PC stuff out of spite, but occasionally varying the price a lot from what they're expecting helps give a feel of a world with its own economy going on behind the curtain, and - frankly - underscores the fact that most characters wouldn't understand enough to know exactly why and how much stuff varies, just that "good times mean my money is worth more".

I'd underscore the 'requisition a pouch of koku from your lord' as the simplest thing to do for income.

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4 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

To be honest, as far as I'm concerned it boils down to "the Koku in your pocket is worth what the GM says it is" on the understanding that the farther you are from 'home' and/or the worse your harvests and general clan economy has been, the less that is. I'd not deny a PC stuff out of spite, but occasionally varying the price a lot from what they're expecting helps give a feel of a world with its own economy going on behind the curtain, and - frankly - underscores the fact that most characters wouldn't understand enough to know exactly why and how much stuff varies, just that "good times mean my money is worth more".

I'd underscore the 'requisition a pouch of koku from your lord' as the simplest thing to do for income.

What rarity would you make said pouch? 

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depends on the pouch in question, its materials, skill of craftsmanship, and amount of koku it holds.  I would also scale up its damage and deadliness based on how much is in it.  

Dangit, and now I'm imagining a silken money pouch embroidered with gold and silver thread, beaded with small stones of jade and crystal, with the embroidery invoking a prayer to Daikoku. Give it the ceremonial and sacred qualities.  The Crab merchant gets attacked by an Oni with steel skin, swords and arrows glance off its unholy hide.  Thinking quickly, he pulls his coin purse loose from his belt, and swings it in a sharp blow against the being's face.  It ignores all resistances, and , treated like a sap or club, scores a critical strike, incapacitating the demon.  BWAHHAA!  that would be awesome. 

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