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Tonbo Karasu

New Fiction - Cold Autumn Harvest

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29 minutes ago, AtoMaki said:

Yeah, her problem is the raiding aspect. If Ujiaki had ordered a normal attack like Hisu Mori Mura then Tsanuri would have had zero problems. Messing with the supplies - if it was just a setup - was pointless, not only because it was obviously stinking but because with a little forethought Tsanuri could have diplomacy'd her way around it. This makes no sense, unless the supply situation is real and the Lion Clan is getting hosed. 

Or the intention is to raise aggression between the Lion and Unicorn.  This raid serves two purposes as it forces the Lion to go on the offensive and it deprives Unicorn of much needed tax revenue. 

Unlike HMT this village is not a necessarily an legitimate military target as it does not appear to be one of the holdings that were ceded to the Lion as part of the failed marriage arrangement, and Tsanuri makes a point of noting that even though the Unicorn may be ramping up aggression against Lion holdings it is not necessarily honorable for the Lion to just answer in kind as it could be a violation of the Edict prohibiting the clans from marching to war with each other without the express permission of the Emperor.

If the Lion supply issue is legitimate we would have expected to see some sort of reference to it some where in earlier stories (even if its just a hint) but we haven't seen a suggestion of supply issues up to this point.  No, what's far more likely, as Tsanuri herself seems to suspect, is that Ujikai and Anakazu (despite the mental gymnastics she does to try and absolve him of guilt at the end) are maneuvering her's and other Lion forces on the Unicorn border to ramp up aggression with the Unicorn, likely to interfere with the Unicorn's ability to contest border holdings and possibly disrupt their ability to pay their taxes thus positioning the Lion to justify taking back additional holdings so that they can be properly administered. 

The story seems to be laying the ground work for an eventual duty to my lord versus personal honor crisis for at least Tsanuri (which from the old game was her major Clan War story climax as one of the leaders of the Imperial loyalist faction Lion who were prepared to defend the palace at the Second Day of Thunder until Toturi showed up to unite the Lion and remind them of their true duty to the Empire not the Emperor).  It has all the hallmarks of an Ikoma (and/or Kolat) shadow plot that is preparing that divide.

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11 minutes ago, Schmoozies said:

Or the intention is to raise aggression between the Lion and Unicorn. 

Yeah, see my edit, I can kinda-sorta see it now. I still think that Ujiaki's plan is kinda dumb and the Lion is getting hosed with this story, but at least it makes sense from a story standpoint. 

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I really like this story because at least it's mostly populated by sympathetic Lion characters.  I don't like what they do in the story, but I do feel for Tsanuri and Toshiro.  Beiona has a scene where she lashes out, but it seems she's mostly acting that way because she's emotional about what they have done. 

It's entirely possible that Ujiaki doesn't have the Lion's best interest in mind.  I am also of the mindset that he's kolat so he's working toward a kolat objective even if it disadvantages the Lion in the short term.

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On 2/27/2020 at 10:32 AM, RafaelNN said:

I think Ujiaki knew and held off lion supplies to force the attack and provoke a war, but that he didnt know the storage were taxes. Maybe the informaton was manipulated, maybe by the sam epeople who tried to manipulate tsuko into killimg kuwanan

I think Ujiaki knew exactly what was going on, which is why the order was worded as it was.

Tsanuri, being an honorable (and Honorable) commander would absolutely have balked if the village's status in the tax structure had been known.

9 hours ago, phillos said:

I like Toshiro in this story.  A good guy caught in a bad situation.  He knows this is all BS, but he can't really do anything about it.  I wonder how many orders like this does it take before the dishonor of it would be too great for the loyal Tsanuri.

This story does a very good job of distinguishing the soldiers from the politicians whose policy dictates the wars they fight- but it also indicates that personal honor can shackle those soldiers to dishonorable orders.

Even the stereotypically bloodthirsty Matsu isn't gung-ho for this operation, because the opposition is token at best, but in the end, the village is raided, its militia butchered, and the incident on record.

9 hours ago, Eisenmerc said:

The theme of Lion getting dumped on continues. The supposed mightiest clan struggles to maintain basic supply lines because 'something is amiss'

They're "struggling to maintain basic supply lines" because the (probably Kolat-riddled) Ikoma leadership wanted Tsanuri's situation to be desperate enough to make this happen. You can see her trying to put things together, like, "wait a minute, our harvest should be in, so why the **** are we in this mess?"

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9 hours ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

Tsanuri, being an honorable (and Honorable) commander would absolutely have balked if the village's status in the tax structure had been known.

To be honest, this would be one risky move. Tsanuri is not obliged to take the village by force, and she learns what's up as soon as she enters the place. This could go wrong in so many ways, Ujiaki had to assume that Tsanuri was honorable but not Honorable, so she would follow his order but not pull a Zeroth Law Rebellion on him. 

9 hours ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

They're "struggling to maintain basic supply lines" because the (probably Kolat-riddled) Ikoma leadership wanted Tsanuri's situation to be desperate enough to make this happen. You can see her trying to put things together, like, "wait a minute, our harvest should be in, so why the **** are we in this mess?"

You know, there is supposedly some major mess coming from the Phoenix lands, and the first Clan to feel it on their skin would be actually the Lion: the Crane had it already with the tsunami, the Dragon wouldn't notice their poor soil growing a degree poorer, so if the spiritual imbalance spreads, then it would hit the Lion next. 

13 hours ago, phillos said:

I really like this story because at least it's mostly populated by sympathetic Lion characters.  I don't like what they do in the story, but I do feel for Tsanuri and Toshiro.  Beiona has a scene where she lashes out, but it seems she's mostly acting that way because she's emotional about what they have done. 

You know, I would like to read a story where sympathetic Lion characters do sympathetic Lion things. Just once. Going by the premise of this story, it could have been about Tsunari visiting the Ikoma Archives to deposit Matsu Mitsuko's story but the Ikoma Historian she meets is less than impressed by Mitsuko's "sacrifice" and the two go into a lengthy argument about Duty Versus Honor, eventually touching the case of the Lion Clan leadership too. No need to raid a Unicorn village for this, especially if you cut away the action, we already have this exact story it only needs a little explanation. 

Edited by AtoMaki

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4 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

You know, I would like to read a story where sympathetic Lion characters do sympathetic Lion things. Just once.

"Sympathetic Lion things" tend to be, what? The Lion clan aren't exactly in their element when they're not kicking somebody in the teeth.

You mean like assuaging a wife's fears about the potential of aggression from one's own clan while also showing great discretion about deeply dangerous secrets? Or perhaps enacting the will of the Emperor despite personal misgivings? Or maybe riding into personal combat against the person they love, knowing they will die, because Duty demands nothing less?

'Cause we've seen all of those.

In fact, going down the line, the Lion are doing fairly well in this regard. Leaving out the novellas, we have:

The Crab... have mostly been doing creepy and underhanded stuff. Anyone who has survived their story appearances thus far has been mixed up in something at least mildly dishonorable.

The Crane "sympathy" stories have largely been about feeling bad for how badly they've been thrashed by circumstance, and their imminent civil war makes nobody look particularly good.

The Dragon have barely shown up at all, and they seem to be less about being sympathetic than about making choices.

The Phoenix... have some clear-cut heroics under their belt, and are, for my money, absolutely in the lead in terms of sympathetic characters who have been shown in a good light, but they're also sitting on an incredibly dangerous secret out of self-interest, and Tadaka is off Tadaka-ing with the Kuni, which will surely  end well.

The Scorpion are at the heart of a series of missteps, villainy, and lousy choices orbiting a sympathetic Clan Champion (sound familiar?)

The Unicorn are noteworthy for Altansarnai's leadership leading away from stability, with their most humanizing bits being regret over the consequences of their actions.

As I never tire of telling Kakita Yoshi's apologists, we're not at the part of the story where wise leaders make things better. We're not even to the bad part yet!

4 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

Going by the premise of this story, it could have been about Tsunari visiting the Ikoma Archives to deposit Matsu Mitsuko's story but the Ikoma Historian she meets is less than impressed by Mitsuko's "sacrifice" and the two go into a lengthy argument about Duty Versus Honor, eventually touching the case of the Lion Clan leadership too. No need to raid a Unicorn village for this, especially if you cut away the action, we already have this exact story it only needs a little explanation. 

And how, exactly, would that have advanced the clear goal of the current stories to show the wider Empire spiraling into chaos despite the best intentions of some of its most honorable people? Your story would make literally nothing about the situation worse, and I don't know if you've noticed, but everything is getting out of hand across the spectrum. Have we had a single non-novella story yet without ominous overtones hanging over it by its conclusion?

Putting aside the fact that an entire story that is literally nothing but two members of the same clan talking at one another about abstruse issues that have no direct bearing on their immediate well-being is intensely boring. Unless you mean to tell me that you'd love to burn an entire fiction on two Phoenix shugenja talking about the elemental imbalance in a locked room somewhere.... 'cause let me tell you, I'm a Phoenix fan, and that would not do anything for me.

 

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9 minutes ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

"Sympathetic Lion things" tend to be, what? The Lion clan aren't exactly in their element when they're not kicking somebody in the teeth.

You know, the fact that there are people who believe this makes me thing whether the new story actually shafts the Lion harder than the Seppun. This is like saying that the Phoenix are in their element when they are freaking out on magic. 

No, the Lion is supposed to be in their element when it comes to actual, honest-to-goodness Honor and the finer parts of Bushido. So imagine my shock when the only character who actually delves into and forms coherent thoughts on Honor and Bushido is... Daisetsu. 

44 minutes ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

And how, exactly, would that have advanced the clear goal of the current stories to show the wider Empire spiraling into chaos despite the best intentions of some of its most honorable people?

By giving actual depth to what Honor means. This is supposed to be a HUGE deal, after all. As of now, the only in-depth measure of what being honorable means is Daisetsu briefly monologuing about it and making the conclusion that honorable people are dumb.  

51 minutes ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

Unless you mean to tell me that you'd love to burn an entire fiction on two Phoenix shugenja talking about the elemental imbalance in a locked room somewhere.... 

To be acutely honest here, I think the Phoenix is in a desperate need of a story along these lines. 

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59 minutes ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

Putting aside the fact that an entire story that is literally nothing but two members of the same clan talking at one another about abstruse issues that have no direct bearing on their immediate well-being is intensely boring. Unless you mean to tell me that you'd love to burn an entire fiction on two Phoenix shugenja talking about the elemental imbalance in a locked room somewhere.... 'cause let me tell you, I'm a Phoenix fan, and that would not do anything for me.

To be fair, an L5R version of the "Locked in a Room"-trope isn't something I would consider to be inherently bad; just perhaps not the best kind of story to insert into the present narrative.

But a story where someone with a birds-eye view of the many conflicts in the empire desperately trying to think of a way to halt the societal collapse, only to be repeatedly stymied by ne developments or internal clan conflicts - yeah, I could see a story about a bunch of samurai locked in a room being a fun read - sorta "Twelve Angry Men with Katanas".

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

You know, the fact that there are people who believe this makes me thing whether the new story actually shafts the Lion harder than the Seppun. This is like saying that the Phoenix are in their element when they are freaking out on magic. 

And yet you present no examples except for the.... rather dull one I'll get to in the third bit here.

Quote

No, the Lion is supposed to be in their element when it comes to actual, honest-to-goodness Honor and the finer parts of Bushido. So imagine my shock when the only character who actually delves into and forms coherent thoughts on Honor and Bushido is... Daisetsu. 

... Again, fine debates about abstruse concepts?

Neither humanizing, nor terribly sympathetic in terms of an actual narrative.

God-Emperor of Dune is an excellent philosophical treatise on hydraulic despotism. It is a terrible novel.

Quote

By giving actual depth to what Honor means. This is supposed to be a HUGE deal, after all. As of now, the only in-depth measure of what being honorable means is Daisetsu briefly monologuing about it and making the conclusion that honorable people are dumb.  

"By giving actual depth to what Honor means."

Uh... huh. And Tsanuri and her troops grappling with Honor in this godawful situation thrust upon them by their superiors is somehow.... less engaging than having two people debate the points of someone else's death?

Quote

To be acutely honest here, I think the Phoenix is in a desperate need of a story along these lines. 

Well, that makes one of us. I've been quite happy with how the imbalance has been presented- as something that the Council bickers about in private and which the clan as a whole tries to stay mum on, a matter which the Kaito have been tasked with investigating. Keep your two blathering shugenja, show me a Kaito getting out there and figuring out what's going on.

Edited by Shiba Gunichi

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10 hours ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

Uh... huh. And Tsanuri and her troops grappling with Honor in this godawful situation thrust upon them by their superiors is somehow.... less engaging than having two people debate the points of someone else's death?

Yes. Tsanuri is not having actual thoughts about Honor, she just takes it as a given and rolls with it. And being melodramatic about Honor is NOT equal to exploring its depth. Especially nowadays, as I think we are reaching the point in the story where being honorable is a negative quality. 

11 hours ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

Keep your two blathering shugenja, show me a Kaito getting out there and figuring out what's going on.

These two are not mutually exclusive. One of the shugenja can be a Kaito. 

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I would argue the Lion stories so far are mostly about struggling with choices related to their honor.  Tsanuri here struggles with maintaining her personal honor or following through with loyalty and duty.  She chooses loyalty and duty and tanks her personal honor.  She does this because she believes it's the choice that best serves Anakazu, and she believes that Anakazu is an honorable lord.  Mitsuko's story is about putting her honor above her feelings for Shono. 

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Given the structure of the narrative (delivered in roughly 3000-word, non-contiguous chunks), I have to agree that demonstrating questions of honor through actions is going to be a lot more effective than just having a conversation about it. I'd happily write the latter into a novel, as a quiet moment between louder bits of plot -- but in the short fictions, it would do nothing to move the story forward, and that kind of progress is vital. Especially if, as people are speculating, what's being furthered here is not merely the Lion-Unicorn war, but groundwork setting up an eventual reveal that some of the people in the Lion leadership are consciously and with malice aforethought not working in the best interests of their clan.

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9 minutes ago, phillos said:

I would argue the Lion stories so far are mostly about struggling with choices related to their honor. 

But for the struggles to be meaningful, we would have to know what Honor means, and why there is a struggle in the first place. As of now, the only thing ever discussed about Honor is Daisetsu telling us that it is stupid and making a good argument why. And you know, these stories are kinda proving him right. 

2 minutes ago, Kinzen said:

but in the short fictions, it would do nothing to move the story forward, and that kind of progress is vital

I'm not a big fan of this kind of rushing into the fray without hammering out key components, especially if these components can be detrimental in the understanding of most characters. I mean, I'm not the only one who remembers old Matsu Tsuko, right? 

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3 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

But for the struggles to be meaningful, we would have to know what Honor means, and why there is a struggle in the first place. As of now, the only thing ever discussed about Honor is Daisetsu telling us that it is stupid and making a good argument why. And you know, these stories are kinda proving him right.

So your real issue is you don't feel the fictions have made a case for Bushido as a worthy ideal to follow?

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14 minutes ago, phillos said:

So your real issue is you don't feel the fictions have made a case for Bushido as a worthy ideal to follow?

Kind of. My real issue is more like how Bushido and Honor is really shallow now. Consequently, the clan that is all about making sense of Bushido and Honor is reduced to warmongering a-holes. 

I'm giving the writers the benefit of doubt and say that characters being super-dutiful is why Bushido is supposedly a good thing, tho I don't know how Daisetsu saying the exact opposite and the story proving him right fits into this. 

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4 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

But for the struggles to be meaningful, we would have to know what Honor means, and why there is a struggle in the first place. As of now, the only thing ever discussed about Honor is Daisetsu telling us that it is stupid and making a good argument why. And you know, these stories are kinda proving him right.

By modern, logical mindsets, he is right.

Bushido as L5R has given it to us is a hierarchical code with rules that make very little allowance for basic humanity.

At the same time, though, it can give us selfless acts like what Tsanuri does at the end by taking the blame for the flagrantly illegal component of her orders.

I would think, reading this story, that it quickly becomes plain- as most of the setting lore has maintained for quite some time- that "what Honor means" is highly subjective. Which is the point. Tsanuri sublimates her Honor to her Duty to her orders, yes- but also her Duty to her soldiers, who are going hungry and about to begin starving.

4 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

I'm not a big fan of this kind of rushing into the fray without hammering out key components, especially if these components can be detrimental in the understanding of most characters. I mean, I'm not the only one who remembers old Matsu Tsuko, right?

"Rushing into the fray"? Did this fiction or did it not address the conflict between Duty and Honor as it reflected on Tsanuri's situation? Did it or did it not address the misgivings of her officers? I mean, in terms of "rushing into the fray," not much actually happened- the damage to the Empire presented here is incremental.

The fleshing out of the Lion so that someone (besides Toturi) is shown as not being a mindlessly aggressive gung-ho "kill 'em all" type is the first we've gotten in what feels like.... ever. Until now, Toturi has been adrift in a sea of Tsukos and the shady side of the Ikoma family.

3 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

Kind of. My real issue is more like how Bushido and Honor is really shallow now. Consequently, the clan that is all about making sense of Bushido and Honor is reduced to warmongering a-holes. 

1. They were always "reduced to warmongering a-holes" in the old lore when there wasn't some external threat to draw their attention or characters like Toturi or Tsanuri to humanize the reservations individual Lion samurai have about the actions of their Clan as a whole. Turns out when you're clan that likes starting wars because it's where you excel, that's the reputation you're going to end up with. The Lion's "schtick" is war. And if you look at how often they've pointedly mugged enemies militarily weaker than they are (which is just about everyone except the Crab on a slow oni year or the Unicorn when the stars are right), at how Kaede is terrified that the Lion will find out about the Phoenix Clan's magical woes and use their weakness as an excuse to mug them... if the kabuto fits, the Lion need to wear it.

2. Tsanuri's very human grappling with where her honor and her duty intersect is FAR less shallow than listening to some philosophical exchange between characters who are not risking anything for taking the stance they do. Tsanuri is forcing her ideals of bushido to function in the ugly realities of an environment that doesn't make it easy. Especially when the people to whom she owes her Duty are, as it turns out, not actually all that good at a given definition of Honor.

3. This is the "Age of Declining Virtue" according to people for whom that needs to be true if they're going to profit by it. Clear, shining beacons of bushido are not going to be found readily. We, the readers, have gotten to meet some heroic individuals, but no Clan is going to be all about "making sense of bushido and Honor." It's not that part of the story.

3 hours ago, AtoMaki said:

I'm giving the writers the benefit of doubt and say that characters being super-dutiful is why Bushido is supposedly a good thing, tho I don't know how Daisetsu saying the exact opposite and the story proving him right fits into this. 

Perhaps it's because we're not to the part where the pieces fit together yet? That would be my rhetorical answer, anyway.

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6 hours ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

By modern, logical mindsets, he is right.

Actually, by the events of this very story, he is right. Honorable people are the ones who get themselves into terrible situations and then find a way to make it even worse. I have yet to see a single exception from this.

6 hours ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

At the same time, though, it can give us selfless acts like what Tsanuri does at the end by taking the blame for the flagrantly illegal component of her orders.

Yeah, as I mentioned above, I think this is the angle where Bushido is supposed to be good. AKA "honorable people do dumb things but at least they have the spine to take responsibility for it". Tho, in my opinion, this is still not very flattering and there is actually a lot more to it than this. 

6 hours ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

"Rushing into the fray"? Did this fiction or did it not address the conflict between Duty and Honor as it reflected on Tsanuri's situation? Did it or did it not address the misgivings of her officers? I mean, in terms of "rushing into the fray," not much actually happened- the damage to the Empire presented here is incremental.

I was specifically referred to the idea that there is no time for discussion about Honor because the story must move on. Considering this story, sure, nothing happened: we have Mitsuko's dilemma again with less angst and more politics. 

6 hours ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

1. They were always "reduced to warmongering a-holes" in the old lore when there wasn't some external threat to draw their attention or characters like Toturi or Tsanuri to humanize the reservations individual Lion samurai have about the actions of their Clan as a whole.

AFAIK this was as much of a problem in the old lore than the Phoenix practicing Maho in every second story. So yeah, paint me disappointed that it is happening again. 

6 hours ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

2. Tsanuri's very human grappling with where her honor and her duty intersect is FAR less shallow than listening to some philosophical exchange between characters who are not risking anything for taking the stance they do.

This whole Duty Versus Honor deal is maybe the single most trite conflict you can have ever, especially if all the characters think about it is "I know they ordered me to do a terrible thing but I MUST do it because HONOR and it makes me SAD." I said this before and I'm saying it again: melodrama does not equal to depth. 

7 hours ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

3. This is the "Age of Declining Virtue" according to people for whom that needs to be true if they're going to profit by it.

Before jumping right into "Declining Virtue" I think it would be nice to see what "Normal Virtue" means and why the decline is a bad thing. 

7 hours ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

Perhaps it's because we're not to the part where the pieces fit together yet? That would be my rhetorical answer, anyway.

The pieces are already fitting together just fine. This very story proves Daisetsu perfectly right. 

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1 hour ago, AtoMaki said:

Actually, by the events of this very story, he is right. Honorable people are the ones who get themselves into terrible situations and then find a way to make it even worse. I have yet to see a single exception from this.

I would think a Lion fan would appreciate that Honor is not easy.

A dishonorable person would have raided the village ages ago just out of convenience, maybe taking the time to dress their raiders up as ronin, and maybe even staging an "intervention" to fight off those horrible bandits, early Spider Clan-style.

And come now, how did Tsanuri make her situation worse? She garnered some (shocked!) respect from the messenger girl, executed her orders, and determined that something is very wrong with the leadership sending her these orders, even if she refuses to believe her daimyo could have known.

1 hour ago, AtoMaki said:

Yeah, as I mentioned above, I think this is the angle where Bushido is supposed to be good. AKA "honorable people do dumb things but at least they have the spine to take responsibility for it". Tho, in my opinion, this is still not very flattering and there is actually a lot more to it than this. 

So what would you have had her do? Find some perfect solution to the dilemma? Make some useless gesture of protest that would leave the men who issued the orders right where they were?

1 hour ago, AtoMaki said:

I was specifically referred to the idea that there is no time for discussion about Honor because the story must move on. Considering this story, sure, nothing happened: we have Mitsuko's dilemma again with less angst and more politics.

We have Lion middle management realizing that maybe things aren't so great with their leadership. I'd call that an appreciable plot development- in addition to escalating the Lion/Unicorn hostilities which, by the by, got their start with a kerfluffle over an Ikoma-orchestrated marriage (and the Unicorn proving incapable of doing extremely basic research and negotiations, but that ship, alas, sailed a long time ago).

1 hour ago, AtoMaki said:

AFAIK this was as much of a problem in the old lore than the Phoenix practicing Maho in every second story. So yeah, paint me disappointed that it is happening again.

So what would you have them be instead?

We know they're not the Imperial Legions (much sense as that would actually have made, given the blank slate the reboot had on offer), we know that they specialize in warfare and have a longstanding series of hostilities with the Crane... tell me, what do you want the Lion to be doing with their biggest and best-led (on paper) army in Rokugan?

I would argue that by having them entangled with the Unicorn and  the Crane, they may be warmongering, but they're definitely getting up to less battlefield bullying than they used to wallow in.

I mean, this is the Clan that burns Kyuden Tonbo down every chance they get, the Clan that led to the creation of the Fox by simply invading former Ki-Rin lands and displacing the people who remained, who basically led to the creation of the rule (more of a guideline, really!) that Great Clans aren't supposed to wage war on Minor Clans...

And whatever you would have them become, again, we're at the part of the story where everybody waltzes into destruction.

1 hour ago, AtoMaki said:

 This whole Duty Versus Honor deal is maybe the single most trite conflict you can have ever, especially if all the characters think about it is "I know they ordered me to do a terrible thing but I MUST do it because HONOR and it makes me SAD." I said this before and I'm saying it again: melodrama does not equal to depth.

She's not just doing it because of orders.

She's also doing it so the troops she is responsible for don't starve, a point you have not yet addressed.

Her duty is not just to the scumbags giving her terrible orders designed to escalate the situation, her duty is also to the troops under her command who look to her for leadership.

So... I find your reading of Tsanuri's dilemma a tad shallow, especially since the story takes pains to make it clear.

1 hour ago, AtoMaki said:

 Before jumping right into "Declining Virtue" I think it would be nice to see what "Normal Virtue" means and why the decline is a bad thing. 

...

"Why the decline is a bad thing" = "Every story we've gotten so far that wasn't a self-contained novella."

1 hour ago, AtoMaki said:

The pieces are already fitting together just fine. This very story proves Daisetsu perfectly right. 

Then I submit that you are being impatient with a process that has not yet moved terribly swiftly on any front.

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10 minutes ago, Shiba Gunichi said:

I would think a Lion fan would appreciate that Honor is not easy.

So what would you have had her do?

So what would you have them be instead?

This is what I would do with this story that would give justice to the Lion and Bushido in one short story: 

  • As I mentioned earlier, Tsanuri would be visiting the Ikoma Archives to submit Mitsuko's demise. We already have this "Lion versus random village" plot, no need to repeat it. 
  • She has orders from Anakazu that Mitsuko must be included with high honors. She meets with an Ikoma Historian and briefly explains what happened with Mitsuko.
  • The Ikoma Historian is actually quite unimpressed and does not want to give Mitsuko the high honors. He makes an argument that Mitsuko was fooled into making her sacrifice by her emotions, in particular her love to Shono, and he deducts that Mitsuko died because in the moment of truth she failed to commit and kill Shono. His angle is similar to Daisetsu's, as he says that tryharding duty is dumb and a samurai must mind all seven tenets at once to do the right thing. 
  • Tsanuri defends Mitsuko, saying that she did not have a choice: she could choose to betray her clan by running away with Shono or betray herself by killing Shono, so she choose neither, the only honorable solution - even if it cost her life. The Historian points out that this sounds like Mitsuko committed seppuku-by-proxy, and Tsanuri agrees that this was indeed an act of 'death before dishonor' (btw it must be mentioned somewhere that this is totally a thing and samurai indeed see death as a preferable alternative to dishonor and seppuku is not "just" honorable suicide). 
  • At this point Tsanuri and the Historian agree that going this hardcore on Honor is totally a Lion thing. Their discussion also touches another similar case: Matsu Tsuko going haywire over Arasou's death and the resulting turmoil. They talk about Tsuko solving the same situation Mitsuko had very creatively: you can't betray your clan if you become your clan. They give that to Tsuko, this is a sensible possibility poor Mitsuko did not have. So yeah, Justice to Tsuko, I feel like we reached the point in the overall narrative where this has to happen.
  • The Historian thanks Tsanuri for the insightful debate and they agree that this is something Lions do the best: considerations of Honor all day every day, even if their actions end up a little questionable, they always have the most honorable solution in mind, and the most honorable solution is really the best one most of the time, it is just also really darn difficult to do. An example is given: the war with the Unicorn is not really about warring for the sake of it but not letting a dangerous precedence pass without consequences. 
  • In the end the Historian gives in and allows high honors for Mitsuko. Then, like that, the whole discussion snaps together in Tsanuri's head and she suddenly realizes that she is being played, and Mitsuko's death as well as giving her the high honors is a big game to grow the chaos in the Lion Clan - Mitsuko would essentially become a "dangerous precedence" some people could use to force their opposition into suicide. She decides to not play along and pull a Mitsuko: instead of disobeying or doing something rash she asks the Historian to forget that he had Mitsuko's scroll - Tsanuri misplaced it, it is lost, and she is taking responsibility for it. 
  • While leaving the Archives, Tsanuri concludes that whoever is behind this cannot be Anakazu because he does not have the kind of enemies this move would be of any use, so it must be Ujiaki. 

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43 minutes ago, AtoMaki said:

This is what I would do with this story that would give justice to the Lion and Bushido in one short story: 

  • As I mentioned earlier, Tsanuri would be visiting the Ikoma Archives to submit Mitsuko's demise. We already have this "Lion versus random village" plot, no need to repeat it. 

Actually we didn't have this type of battle from the Lion perspective.  We had the aftermath of that battle with Mitsuko's story, but there the focus wasn't just her it was as mentioned her relationship with Shono and her doing her duty despite her love for him and then him coming to grips with his own feelings in the aftermath.  Even in the aftermath of that story there would be no "debate" about her honor among the Lion as she followed her orders and seized HMT and held it to the best of her ability with her small force of Ashigaru against a significantly larger Unicorn force.  There is no shame in losing a battle against a superior force, especially when that was apparently what she was sent out to do.  There would be shame if she had fled the battlefield or surrendered without a fight, but she didn't she stood her ground and despite her misgivings (which was an inner monologue and not something that either party debating her actions would actually be party to after the fact) fought and lost to Shono (who should be recognized as a fairly competent opponent and as heir to the Unicorn champion should be acknowledged by the Lion is a serious threat in a fight).  She was meant to be a martyr, struck down in reprisal by the Unicorn for enforcing a "legal" Lion claim on territory.

The other war on a village story we had was the Kamoko one which is actually a good contrast to this one.  There we had the Unicorn attacking a village, killing the defenders and Kamoko being confronted by the children and in light of her own childhood memories of challenging the Lion who killed her mother accepting the challenge of the girl and presumably making short work of her.

Contrast that with this story (which we are subtly prompted to do when Tsanuri makes mention in her own mind about how the Unicorn are attacking Lion villages) where we have Tsanuri, who has been hesitant to attack up to this point despite her army being on the verge of starvation, debating the merit of the attack.  Contrast the behaviour of the Unicorn where they are rampaging through the village and lighting fires and causing general damage whereas here, despite her Ashigaru troops giving into momentary weakness to sate their hunger in the aftermath of the battle (something that they appear to feel shamed about doing when they are confronted by Tsanuri) the Lion seem to be going to a great effort to minimize the damage done to the village (going so far as to lament the loses that the villagers took when they could have surrendered and avoided the casualties).  We have a perfect encapsulation of the difference between the two armies and how they are behaving on the front, at least from a Lion's perspective, and the hints that there is definitely something nefarious going on in the Ikoma command structure to set up future plot development.

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2 hours ago, Schmoozies said:

Actually we didn't have this type of battle from the Lion perspective. 

When it comes to having the battle, then no, we are still not having that due to this story cutting away from it and only showing the aftermath for a brief moment. But the plot? It is The Swift End all over again. 

2 hours ago, Schmoozies said:

Even in the aftermath of that story there would be no "debate" about her honor among the Lion as she followed her orders and seized HMT and held it to the best of her ability with her small force of Ashigaru against a significantly larger Unicorn force. 

I think it would be better to have a debate. What you are saying would be the point Tsanuri makes for Mitsuko: the girl maxed out that fight, condemning her for not killing Shono is just nitpicking, that was never a realistic option for the not-so-obvious reason (not because she couldn't but because she shouldn't). 

2 hours ago, Schmoozies said:

despite her misgivings (which was an inner monologue and not something that either party debating her actions would actually be party to after the fact)

I might be wrong here, but I thought Mitsuko and Shono totally having the hots for each other was supposedly common knowledge in the setting and one of the reason Mitsuko was sent against the Unicorn? I can remember Shono getting flack for it from his mother or something to which Shono said that this trick wouldn't work and he would kill her anyway (then it did work and he botched the killing too, but the Lion doesn't know this). Now, the Historian would just determine that it didn't and he did, so this can only mean that this whole ordeal backfired on Mitsuko. 

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25 minutes ago, AtoMaki said:

When it comes to having the battle, then no, we are still not having that due to this story cutting away from it and only showing the aftermath for a brief moment. But the plot? It is The Swift End all over again. 

I think it would be better to have a debate. What you are saying would be the point Tsanuri makes for Mitsuko: the girl maxed out that fight, condemning her for not killing Shono is just nitpicking, that was never a realistic option for the not-so-obvious reason (not because she couldn't but because she shouldn't). 

I might be wrong here, but I thought Mitsuko and Shono totally having the hots for each other was supposedly common knowledge in the setting and one of the reason Mitsuko was sent against the Unicorn? I can remember Shono getting flack for it from his mother or something to which Shono said that this trick wouldn't work and he would kill her anyway (then it did work and he botched the killing too, but the Lion doesn't know this). Now, the Historian would just determine that it didn't and he did, so this can only mean that this whole ordeal backfired on Mitsuko. 

Them being betrothed was certainly public knowledge (and yes is likely one of the reasons she was selected for the mission), them actually being in love is more likely a fact that was known only by those closest to them.  However that fact doesn't change the underlying facts that none of her soldiers knew anything about the inner conflict she was going through as outwardly she did everything she was supposed to do to hold the fort and pull back to the  village when needed and force the Unicorn to wipe out her force rather then surrender.  To all outward appearances she was acting in absolute honor and the only ones actually privy to her conversation with Shono during their final confrontation were the two of them.

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Just now, Schmoozies said:

However that fact doesn't change the underlying facts that none of her soldiers knew anything about the inner conflict she was going through as outwardly she did everything she was supposed to do to hold the fort and pull back to the  village when needed and force the Unicorn to wipe out her force rather then surrender.  To all outward appearances she was acting in absolute honor and the only ones actually privy to her conversation with Shono during their final confrontation were the two of them.

Luckily, that doesn't matter because all her soldiers were killed by the Unicorn, so what they saw or did not see make zero difference. As far as the Lion is concerned, Mitsuko suffered the fate Shono had to: she faced off her ex-betrothed, hesitated, and was struck down in return. An Ikoma Historian figuring this one out mustn't be too far-fetched I reckon. In fact, he might actually know about the whole deal due to being involved with the treaty or even the marriage of the two. 

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2 minutes ago, AtoMaki said:

Luckily, that doesn't matter because all her soldiers were killed by the Unicorn, so what they saw or did not see make zero difference. As far as the Lion is concerned, Mitsuko suffered the fate Shono had to: she faced off her ex-betrothed, hesitated, and was struck down in return. An Ikoma Historian figuring this one out mustn't be too far-fetched I reckon. In fact, he might actually know about the whole deal due to being involved with the treaty or even the marriage of the two. 

Actually she was doing exactly as ordered.  She and her superiors knew she was going to lose that fight, and couldn't be aware that Shono would be the one leading the force as that was a last minute decision that his mother made after he insisted on being the one to face Mitsuko.  But the Ikoma Historian who was present saw she did all as she was ordered and acted with honor.

 

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