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not really.   Previous editions had you choose a role, which these are part of, but the newer edition recognizes a bit more fluidity and a representation of the duality of Rokugani life, the martial and the political.  It likely has some ties in design to the LCG, where the imperial favor and attacks on provinces can be done militarily, or politically, as so represents your character's general stance in both arenas. 

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I'm pretty sure it's an O5R carry-over, at least in time. Bushi is obviously a fighter (which is not required of a samurai) and Shugenja is the very specific magic thing. Courtier is the third pillar which is all those guys doing social stuff. Shinobi and Monk were basically special roles but you need them because otherwise the Scorpion and Dragon clans have no hat! I don't know if older editions explicitly called out Artisan schools with a tag like that, but there definitely were artistry focused schools and characters. It's always been basically a quick keyword thing. 

In 5E it's really less of a hard and fast restriction (because of how most schools offer tech groups), but it defines all the jobs samurai usually have in broad classes and since Giri is a critical gameplay mechanic it's important to actually understand maybe what your character should be expected to do as their official duty, and roles let you kind of figure that out, in addition to actual party composition. It also allows you to actually subdivide certain techniques out because keywords

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Posted (edited)

Its just jobs/ways.

It would have been nice to have a bit more details on each tags though (the corebook is very light on such details), and maybe a little mechanical difference, "maybe".

But it is mostly fine as is, its vague in a mechanical sense. Pretty much sums up many other parts of the game.

Though, to be fair, I found my way to enjoy the ruleset by basically making clear my interpretations of many rules to my players and having a few houserules. Once we agreed, we rolled with it and its fun for us.

Edited by Avatar111

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I'm pretty sure it's so people who want to play a specific kind of character can trim down the number of schools they have to look at, so if you want to, say, play a character whose shtick is smacking stuff in the face you just wave to look at whatever has the Bushi tag, instead of every school.

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Indeed. I think the tag was mostly futureproofing for later materials. The fact that very little at the moment hangs off the tag doesn't mean it will remain so.

Craft Shikigami being (Shujenga) for example, helps draw some clear water between actual shujenga and samurai with access to - and even benefits with - invocations, but aren't shujenga per se (Kaito Shrine Keepers and Fortunist Monks, for example).

 

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I was actually referring to the fact that they're a mix of (pseudo)-Japanese and English.  Looking at other things, equipment is mostly in Japanese, School names are all in English, Techniques are in English, but the Technique categories are Japanses (except Invocations and Rituals).

Why aren't the tags Fighter, Ninja, Priest, Artisan, Monk, Courtier or Bushi, Shinobi, Shugena, Shokunin, So and Teishin?

By-the-by,  Rituals appears to translate to Gishiki, but Invocation is difficult but I think it might be Gandate, which is both 'request' and 'shinto prayer'.

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Posted (edited)

In that case it's definitely baggage and readability. Bushi and Shinobi are probably common enough in the genre people can understand them (it is bushi-do after all) and Shugenja means something very specific to L5R. I'd have to check but I don't even know if Courtiers were considered a "class" originally or just characters who did social stuff - and even if they were that would mean the people who were writing L5R did research rather than just vaguely remember a samurai movie. So, english. And monks "schools" were probably literally just Togashi at first, who are weird. And also Monks means a lot of types of Monks. Thanks to D&D, as much as John Wick didn't like it, the TT games community has an idea of a punch monk though. Artisan as an outright tag like I said above I think is new? But again, readability based. A casual reader will probably not have any familiarity with the term, and you'd have to define it in a glossary as... which ever one of those words you said which means artist, colon, "Artisan". 

As for why 5E is like this, it's probably a mix of needing to still be familiar to old fans and also needing to be approachable by new fans. There's some level of knowledge you can cruise on thanks to globalization and pop-cultural osmosis, but I've been a huge weeb for like 15 years and I still don't casually recognize some of the words you used. Techniques I think is similar - many people will be familiar with "kata" as a martial arts concept. Shuji is interesting, but I assume the untranslated there would basically be "social technique" or "rhetorical technique" which doesn't flow very well, putting it down to a couple syllables. I think Invocations were called "spells" before, so while longer this gets you a better feel of what they do while not requiring your knowledge of a second language to rank up. 

Edited by UnitOmega

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Also, not all of the non English words used are Japanese.  Not all of the cultural concepts are Japanese. Rokugan is NOT a medieval Japan with magic.  It is an amalgamation of many histories and cultures.  Some things can be borrowed straight across, some cant. 

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3 hours ago, Tonbo Karasu said:

Why aren't the tags Fighter, Ninja, Priest, Artisan, Monk, Courtier or Bushi, Shinobi, Shugena, Shokunin, So and Teishin?

Huh! I never even processed that the tags are in multiple languages (and it seems like I'm not alone). Good observation.

I'm not sure what my internal rules are, but some of these options feel more doable than others. Ninja would be fine (and they even use it in the name of the Mercenary Ninja school, which now seems odd). Fighter feels awkward to me, but for some reason Warrior wouldn't. Like @UnitOmega said, Shugenja feels pretty specific to L5R. Priest has different connotations for most people.

Foreign words (especially Japanese words) help get me into the setting. So maybe the rule is just use them whenever you think you can get away with it?

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There might be more on the split in Courts of Stone, but as kind of explained in the appendixes for the Scorpion novella, historically "ninja" has baggage in L5R. Shinobi is the more proper reading, and ninja was kind of like a colloquialism which took off in the west (in real life). You can use the terms interchangeably (literally "ninja" is just a different way to read the characters which also make up "shinobi") but early L5R really wanted to avoid ninja movie cliches, and John Wick kind of went out of his way to make stereotypical tropey ninjas kind of lame. So the result is that "shinobi" refers to great clan employed spooks who are merely illegal, and a "ninja" is a peasant fairy tale and doesn't really exist - and if they did exist, they'd be honorless criminal dogs counted among the hinin, and thus of no concern. 

"Just don't ask why my dry cleaning receipt has so many black pajamas" - Scorpion-san. 

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Note that "priest" and "shugenja" are two entirely different things. Priests keep care of shrines and temples and they don't have the special connection to the kami that shugenja do. Shugenja are far too rare and their special skills too valuable to be wasted as priests.

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18 hours ago, UnitOmega said:

 but early L5R really wanted to avoid ninja movie cliches, and John Wick kind of went out of his way to make stereotypical tropey ninjas kind of lame.

To the point that the first book to have "ninja" rules had most of the rules blacked out in the book, and a sidebar that stated something along the lines of, Ninja don't actually exist, these rules are a joke. 

 

(unless you have one of the 50 odd books that got out there where the printer screwed up, didn't black out any of the ninja rules, and DID black out the "don't exist" paragraph. )

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3 hours ago, Tonbo Karasu said:

I have first printing Way of the Scorpion.  Nothing is blacked out.  However, one of the 'Little Truths' in the sidebars is "Appendix II is a lie"

Hunh, i could have sworn that chunks of the ninja rules were blacked out.  However, there are a few copies with an error in them with that particular little truth blacked out by the printer, like a magic marker was taken across it, but its the printed ink.  A friend has a copy that he had signed by John with a note that says, "Name of person" is allowed to play a Ninja. 

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