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Nheko

Imperial Families and Topaz Championship

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Are the Imperial Families allowed to participate in the Topaz a Champion Tournament, or that is only a Great/Minor Clan Chance Event?

I don’t recall seeing anyone from the Imperial Families participating.

Edited by Nheko

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I'm not aware of any particular reason members of the Imperial Families couldn't attend the Topaz Championship. That said, they might CHOOSE not to participate, citing it as being "inappropriate" or some such thing, but really meaning their candidates might not win, or even necessarily do that well. Remember that "face"--how one appears to others--is extremely important in Rokugan. Having Great Clan (or, Fortunes forbid, Minor Clan!) candidates beat out your supposedly best and brightest young samurai-to-be could be an embarrassment the Imperials would rather just avoid.

But CAN they participate? Eh, don't see any reason why not.

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Thanks, I thought about the “face” portion as the main issue here.

I think a Great Clan student who trains in one of the Imperial schools would be interesting. If they win the school, is superior, if they don’t it’s the student who performed poorly and shamed his Clan.

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17 minutes ago, Nheko said:

Thanks, I thought about the “face” portion as the main issue here.

I think a Great Clan student who trains in one of the Imperial schools would be interesting. If they win the school, is superior, if they don’t it’s the student who performed poorly and shamed his Clan.

That is EXACTLY how the thinking goes in Rokugan 😁

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What is fun with this is: it is the SCHOOL that decides which students will be sent. Those from the Imperial Families, while they often attend their own schools, are generally able to attend any school in the Empire, and frequently make use of that option. A Seppun who is Kuni Shugenja Trained is perfect for protecting the Emperor from Oni-based threats(and, considering how often an Oni has just appeared in the middle on nowhere in the Empire, probably prudent.)
An Otomo who is Bayushi or Doji Courtier trained is even more dangerous at keeping the various Clans at each others throats. But, an Otomo who is Kakita Duelist trained? And, if said Otomo really is the *STAR* of that years graduating class of the Kakita Dueling Academy? Why, the school would absolutely *HAVE* to send him! The Kakita must, of course, always send their BEST to Topaz Championship. To do otherwise would be an absolute insult to the other competitors! So, Otomo-san gets the honour of defending his school's reputation! (And, of course, for some favours and gifts to the right Crane, you can make absolutely certain that Otomo-san is the best choice, even if he is not!) 

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True, but you could 'be the best' and still not be sent if you're not eligible (indeed that'd be the most diplomatic way to refuse: "of course we'd send you Otomo-sama, but...")

The prize, after all, is to become a jewelled champion; so it ultimately boils down to "can a member of the Imperial Families be a jewelled champion"?

The Emerald tournament is specifically open to 'all the clans' - a phrase which would by default exclude the Imperial Families.

In the previous versions of L5R, the only Imperial ever to be Emerald Champion was Seppun Toshiken - who was pointedly also the only Emerald Champion to be directly appointed, not selected by the tournament.

 

[Goes off to do some research]

Okay....there's never been a named Imperial Topaz Champion.

Also - random fact - Lady Anger Issues, Matsu Tsuko, was Topaz Champion herself 24 years ago. Keep that in mind if she ever meets a 'current' Topaz Champion; as that potentially justifies affecting her demeanour.

There's been a named Seppun Jade champion, though, so it's not impossible - the Topaz Championship is comparatively 'new'.

 

 

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On a similar token, one of the characters in our game is a Matsu who was a hostage in the imperial city for a while, so he actually trained in the seppun guard school.  He did not take part in the Topaz Championship, though there were other in character reasons, his character is already a few years past gempuku. 

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22 hours ago, Scrivener Spills said:

On a similar token, one of the characters in our game is a Matsu who was a hostage in the imperial city for a while, so he actually trained in the seppun guard school.  He did not take part in the Topaz Championship, though there were other in character reasons, his character is already a few years past gempuku. 

Indeed. One thing pointedly name-checked in the core book is that studying in an out-of-clan school isn't unheard of, it just requires a good narrative justification. Being a child hostage for some sort of political treaty and growing up in another clan's stronghold is a perfect example.

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Glad you asked this question, because one of my PCs asked me this question only a few days ago!

Emerald Empire mentions that even the Imperial Families have to undergo gempuku, so that alone gives a legitimate reason for them to attend the Topaz Championship. Though for reasons that @DGLaderoute already mentioned, it's probably pretty uncommon. But hey, PCs are "uncommon" people anyway, right?

Anyway, the PC in question had this idea of a Miya becoming a Seppun Astrologer and then being shifted into a yoriki in-training for an Emerald Magistrate. I'm thinking this sounds fine and I'm sure I can conjure up a reason for them to be in the upcoming Topaz Championship-- but suddenly they drop a bomb-shell by taking the 'Blindness' disadvantage. My mind reels. It's tough enough to think of a reason for a member of the Imperial Family to get into the Topaz Championship, but a blind one at that? Pfffft.

@Nheko, I'm curious if you had a PC interested in playing an Imperial Family member during the Beginner's Kit scenario? If you did, how did you guys thematically fit them into the tournament?

As for us, here's what we came up with if you were wondering! 😉

 

So then we brainstorm and we have this idea that his parents didn't realize he was blind until it was much too late to have him "disappear" (because of the stigma of having a blind child). Thankfully for all involved, at a young age he shows the potential to become a shugenja and is swept up into the Seppun Astrologer School. But getting a blind shugenja to participate in the upcoming tournament, still seems unlikely with what we have.

After further deliberation, we decide that he has a childhood dream, which later he realizes is actually a vision, of himself in a Crane arena. There's a body on the ground of the arena, drenched in blood-- their face is completely obscured while an arena full of people look on in horror. Later he discovers that the arena is none other than the grounds of the Kakita Dueling Academy. The Astrologer knows something bad is going to happen in the future, and when the Kakita family announce that they are hosting the Topaz Championship this year, he knows he has to be there to try and stop it (while proving to his family that he isn't just a "blind man" would do wonders for his own honor and that of his family's to boot). Of course, there is no way the Emerald Magistrate would let his yoriki in-training embarrass the Imperial Family and firmly declines.

Later on, the character has a purely chance meeting-- a meeting that the kami themselves must have orchestrated-- with Doji Satsume, the Emerald Champion. After hearing the Astrologer's story, the Champion's curiosity is piqued, but knows the loss of face to the Imperial Family would be too great if the shugenja were to embarrass himself and his family name for the sake of what is likely "some bad dream." The Champion declines. The PC isn't arrogant enough to claim they could win the Topaz Champion Title, but he is willing to stake 10 Honor & 10 Glory that he could place at least in the top 3 (presumably enough to save face, if he also averted 'some crisis' in addition to that). Doji Satsume says he will consider the matter carefully and departs.

Months later, there is no word about the Astrologist attending the formal gempuku. Only a few weeks later, Doji Satsume is announced dead and he loses all hope of ever attending. However, a formal letter arrives from the now deceased Doji Satsume. It is an invitation to the Topaz Championship and he is asked by the late Emerald Champion to stop whatever tragedy may occur during the event (the staked 10 Honor & Glory stands). 

Edited by Maleficus_Sadi
Typos!

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25 minutes ago, Scrivener Spills said:

OOO, i like.  suggestion?  when the ghost shows up, he can see it.  all he sees is the blue ghost, on a black background, but he can see the ghost. 

 

also, how is a blind shugenja tagged to become an EMs yoriki?  

This actually reminds me of the Miraluka from Star Wars! The whole, "blind but able to see 'Force' radiating off like an aura from individuals." That may even be what they were going for-- especially since they took the "Sixth Sense" advantage and wear a white silken blindfold!-- but naturally that only works on supernatural forces and not humans. Hopefully his "Keen Awareness" will be enough to offset the major disadvantage of being blind during the tournament!

Being brand new to the system, I've been trying to figure this out myself! From what I've gathered, the Emerald Magistrates can't rely on the defunct Jade Magisterial Offices and work with other Great Clans who have sects dedicated to the hunting down Maho-tsukai. So it stands to reason that perhaps they saw his sixth sense and shugenja abilities as a potential asset. Not to mention his father would be appeased by having his son die in a worthwhile occupation and in defense of the Empire (thereby restoring any honor lost by having a disabled child in the Imperial Family).

Speaking of which, the Astrologer's father is also an EM (albeit a neutral contact since they don't get along). It's possible that the dad used his status as leverage to have his son become a yoriki in-training to a different, newly minted EM, right?

If this isn't plausible, or you have some other ideas, let me know! As I said, I'm totally new to Rokugan, so I've had to rack my brain pretty hard to get us this far! 🤣

I was told "Zatoichi the Swordsman Becomes a Wizard," was the inspiration. 😂

Edited by Maleficus_Sadi
Zatoichi Refernce (;

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It could be a political position, acting as a nominal assistant who's very specific skillset (prophecy and divination) could be of value to an Emerald Magistrate - even though the testimony of the Kami is not accepted as true testimony, it may be useful in prompting an investigation or at least allowing an investigator some idea of where to even start looking. Furthermore, as you've highlighted, the Emerald Magistrates are de-facto tasked with hunting down Maho-Tsukai; I'm sure that everyone on the whole agrees that it would be better to try and predict if something terrible is going to happen before it actually happens and try to stop it.

At least, that could be the official explanation that their Emerald Magistrate uses when they are questioned. The character's dad probably didn't leverage their position as such (given that they would probably be of similar status as the other Magistrate) but perhaps called in a favour or debt - or even offered the services of their child as a 'gift' that couldn't be reasonably refused given their relation to the Imperial families, or as a demonstration of trust. (Or perhaps as an insult - "You're so terrible that even my blind son can offer you advice" etc.)

Another thing to consider is if there was perhaps a pressing reason for the character to be removed from their previous environment - had they offended someone? Did their father's Lord find them distasteful? Was there talk of a betrothal that would disadvantage the character in some way? Did someone important offend them, and so if they stayed they would feel compelled to offer a challenge they would lose or felt that an 'exile' was the best solution?
It is however quite strange for someone who is already a Yoriki to an Emerald Magistrate to not have passed their Gempukku - As far as I'm aware, the Yoriki is effectively an apprentice Emerald Magistrate, so having an apprentice-apprentice seems a tad redundant. A possible solution is for the character to have been adopted by the Emerald Magistrate they serve, either formally (which doesn't quite fit the background you've described) or informally (seeing their 'sensei' as an actual father figure). This could allow for a 'second' Gempukku - especially if their 'sensei' is a friend of the Crane and given their nature as a Shugenja (and therefore is incredibly unlikely to actually win the championship and therefore be actual competition to the other competitors.)

Or perhaps his presence at the Topaz Championship is him being set up to fail, and fail publicly, whilst also ostensibly honouring them with a chance to demonstrate their worth. A failure so grand, that only seppuku is the appropriate response and so remove a stain on the families honour. Of course, such a thing requires a suitable villain... One who may have had knowledge of such a Samurai and the will to cause such damage to an Imperial Family, whilst also having the clout to both gain an invitation to the Championship whilst also ensuring that it is accepted. One name certainly springs to mind. (If you do go that route, make a point of not telling the 'character' the actual reason for it. Try and be bland and suspicious, highlight that his presence is something of a surprise to everyone and perhaps that certain background courtiers hide their faces behind fans and his senses can catch laughter as he leaves rooms.)


At the end of the day, however, this is your world as the GM.

Oh! Perhaps it's meant as an insult to the Crane, for some imagined (or real) slight? Ala Hitoshi, except less of a personal insult but more of an attempt to undermine the Championship itself, or to suggest that it is so beneath the dignity of the Imperial Families, that they send a blind man? This could place the Crane in something of a quandary. Just a thought.

Edited by Hydraxus
Crane Shenanigans

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This is some really great advice, @Hydraxus! Thanks a lot! There are a lot of things I hadn't considered here. Good call on the father being at the same status level as the others, not sure why that slipped my mind-- but I really like the idea that he was offered as a 'gift' for his seer-like abilities and even the thought of it being an underhanded insult! 

The father naturally bears the shame of his son being blind and even the discovery of him being (and becoming) a shugenja isn't enough to appease that as he had a very romanticized  dream of what having a son would be like. 

Yoriki probably have to already be samurai-- which also slipped my mind. Perhaps maybe instead it was the a promise of being promoted to yoriki when he became samurai by his sensei / father?

As for the villainous manipulator, I love the idea that its a test meant to be failed in order to force him to commit seppuku-- truly ingenious! I may seriously incorporate this! But who or what position in Rokugan would have that kind of clout anyway 🤨?


Thanks for all of these suggestions! They helped me learn a bit more about Rokugan's political mechanics and refined our character's backstory!

Edited by Maleficus_Sadi
Sentence structure.

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