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robothedino

Making sense of the Crab- landless samurai and spiritless shugenja?

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These questions have probably been answered many times since 1E, so apologies for my ignorance here, but here they are:

 

1 - A samurai is, by definition, a warrior sworn to the service of a land-holding lord, who pays them in rice taxed from the production of his land. The Hiruma have no land of their own. Who pays their salaries, and how? And if the Hiruma daimyo has no lands of his own, in what sense is he even a daimyo? 

 

2 - The Kuni lands are described as "spiritually barren". How the heck do new Kuni shugenja train, or even know that they are in fact shugenja, when there's no spirits for them to talk to? (Since their lands are also described as ecologically barren, the same issue as the Hiruma applies- where does their wealth come from, and how do they support themselves?)

 

If this all comes down to them being subsidized by the Hida and/or Yasuki, then realistically, there is no Kuni or Hiruma daimyo. They're simply vassal families, by definition. I realize L5R lore plays fast and loose with the historical bases for the samurai feudal order as well as common sense, but if anyone has any marginally sensible rationalizations for these issues, I'd love to hear them. For my own games I'd probably simply say that following the loss of Hiruma lands to the Maw and the spiritual sterilization of the Kuni lands, they were granted territory from the Yasuki and/or Hida holdings in compensation, but alternatives are welcome.

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This has nothing to do with the practical realities of the lost Hiruma lands, or the spiritually-barren Kuni lands. This is all about history. Hiruma and Kuni, along with Kaiu, were foremost among the followers of the Kami, Hida, and were granted full family status when they ventured into the Shadowlands together, and fought and destroyed the Oni of the First Battle. And that's it. They were allowed to found families by Hida then; who among "modern" Crab would gainsay the decision of their founding Kami to do so?

In fact, anyone even hinting at diminishing the standing of the Hiruma or Kuni because of the state of their lands would immediately find themselves on the wrong end of duel or, depending on the circumstances, just very badly injured.

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Posted (edited)

Greetings from the Sands, Evil-Smelling Brother-in-Law of a Camel!

1. The Hiruma have no lands whatsoever.

2. The Kuni have lost most of their lands but they still have significat holdings such as the Kuni Castle and some farmable lands. They are probably supported by the yasuki endeavor but they still have some lands.

I find important to remind you that the Kuni Wastelands are not a neat incident that blasted the Kuni lands and stop conviently at the border of their province. It happened in the Kuni territories and blasted most of them but that still leaves them some.

Last but not Least

3. "realistically" has nothing to do with it. Your point are perfectly reasonable, it is just that rokugani culture does not care about "realistically" or "truth". All that matters is keeping alive their social charade. Rokugani cares about keeping their on/face, about honor, about tradition.

"realistically" a Shoji screen has never prevented anyone to hear what happen on the other side. Yet rokugani pretend otherwise, and openly doing differently is to invite social censure.

Back to the Hiruma, you are right about their inability to perform the basic duties of a feudal lord. However, to demote them to vassal family of the Hida you would have to find an emperor that makes a Huge finger to tradition and countermand the decision of a two Kami: Hantei and Hida. To my knowledge that has never happened. Quite simply, Emperors are supposed to have the blessings of heavens and so always being right. To go against a edict of the very first emperor and his brother, both divine sons of the Sun would severely undermine the rokugani social and power structure.

Also of note is the fact that most rokugani sleep quietly at night secure in the knowledge that the Crab keeps the darkness at bay. They may not be appreciative of it, considering it a distastful task, and the Crab little better than guard dogs, yet they also enjoy the fact that tomorrow will be as today and tradition will be upheld. They want to keep that illusion alive.

See you in the Sands.

Edited by Lord of the Seal

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, robothedino said:

1 - A samurai is, by definition, a warrior sworn to the service of a land-holding lord, who pays them in rice taxed from the production of his land. The Hiruma have no land of their own. Who pays their salaries, and how? And if the Hiruma daimyo has no lands of his own, in what sense is he even a daimyo? 

Whilst Shiro Hiruma and the bulk of Hiruma ancestral lands are gone, the Hiruma do still have lands, too, given them to administer by the clan champion. In previous editions, Maemikake - the town just outside the Shinomen - is the primary Hiruma territory, for example (though the Hiruma strenuously resist any suggestion of making it 'the new Shiro Hiruma').

3 hours ago, robothedino said:

2 - The Kuni lands are described as "spiritually barren". How the heck do new Kuni shugenja train, or even know that they are in fact shugenja, when there's no spirits for them to talk to? (Since their lands are also described as ecologically barren, the same issue as the Hiruma applies- where does their wealth come from, and how do they support themselves?)

Their lands aren't spiritually barren - they're 'artificially maintained':

"Dōkutsu no Majo’s invasion shaped the Kuni’s lifestyle forever when the attack poisoned their home with Taint. The family had no choice but to purge all spiritual energy from their land, leaving it desolate. To this day, a method of complete restoration has yet to be discovered, and still-unknown tunnels weave through the underground network left behind, providing havens in which shadowy creatures are said to lurk. A temporary solution has come in the form of hundreds of small shrines. These structures lure kami and direct them through Kuni lands like a form of spiritual irrigation. "

So maintaining the spiritual viability of their lands is exactly the sort of job you could use to employ a shujenga's students.

 

Edited by Magnus Grendel

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2 hours ago, DGLaderoute said:

This is all about history. Hiruma and Kuni, along with Kaiu, were foremost among the followers of the Kami, Hida, and were granted full family status when they ventured into the Shadowlands together, and fought and destroyed the Oni of the First Battle. And that's it. They were allowed to found families by Hida then; who among "modern" Crab would gainsay the decision of their founding Kami to do so?

And just imagine if Hida finally returns from the Shadowlands to find out that one of his great-great-great-...-great-sons decided to remove the status of Great Clan Family of the Hiruma and Kuni for doing their jobs?

 

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The hiruma still have a use, and thus a reason to be employed by a Lord - they develop the skills and experience to scout the very Shadowlands, and many of them spend their time beyond the Wall, reporting on goings on with the Crab's enemies. This probably means a lot of them are assigned to and quartered at the Carpenter Wall, which is probably run kind of as a big co-op between all the Crab families. You don't let a watchtower or fort fall because it's the next province over and that's not your problem. They do also still govern some lands inside Rokugan, and they must be near the Hare somewhere as their troops clashed in a recent fiction. They probably do not "own" these lands, per say, since they have PERFECTLY GOOD LANDS INSIDE THE SHADOWLANDS, ONE DAY WE WILL RECLAIM THEM, but they can probably economically benefit from ruling castles and townships.

Kuni are perfectly fine. They still physically have all their lands, even if the map draws them like a shifting sand land. They attempt to bring the kami back to their lands by building an elaborate network of densely packed shrines. Since they train via apprenticeships not dojos, all they need to pass on their skills is to pop in to a local shrine and work with the kami based out of it. Sure, their land probably doesn't produce a lot of rice, but you don't see anybody trying to disband the whole Dragon Clan, do you? Perhaps all those sandworm oni tunnels mean they have mineral deposits they can make use of, or they export some of their sand to the Kaiu or Unicorn to make into glass. 

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11 hours ago, Swordbreaker said:

"Yeah, sure, Ikoma-san, you go tell the Crab delegates they aren't allowed in anymore. No, no, go ahead. I'll wait here."

To be fair, it's like 'Kyuden' Hida. 

The requirement for the 'Kyuden' rather than 'Shiro' title, in theory, is that it be a suitable place to host the Imperial Winter Court. 

Kyuden Hida is officially a 'palace' because it's unthinkable that a great clan not have one rather than because it's appropriate - it's big, sure, but it's also almost utterly without comfort and right on top of the Carpenter Wall, so an Emperor would have to be messed up in the head to voluntarily choose to host court there.

(Unless he or she had gotten irked with the diplomats in the capital and decided to punish the lot of them, in which case I guess holding court at Kyuden Hida comes second only to forcing lazy and indolent courtiers to hump their backsides all the way up to the High House Of Light......)

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Thanks for the info guys- there were some fine points in there that I missed re: the Kuni barrens being not quite so barren, and the Hiruma having some near-side of the Wall holdings. That said-

Most of the points y'all raised were about the official, ceremonial status of the Hiruma. I'm more interested in the functional aspects of the situation. Again, I'm approaching this from a perspective based on the principle that, whatever else is true about Rokugan, the samurai who populate it are still human beings and function according to the basic universals of human psychology.

If I am a Hiruma, theoretically sworn to a Hiruma lord, but the rice I eat is farmed in Hida lands, given to me by a Hida lord, I serve in Hida lands, live in a Hida castle, etc., then whatever the paperwork says or what syllables come in front of my personal name, I am in every practical respect a retainer of the Hida family. And functionally that means that if the Hida daimyo gives me orders that conflict with those of my putative Hiruma lord, well... it's honor or rice. 

You might respond with, "well, why would the Hida lord give orders conflicting with the Hiruma lord? After all, they're all part of the same Clan, and the Hiruma are subordinate to the Hida..." But at that point, you've thrown feudalism itself out the window, and the game is no longer a samurai game at all- we're basically looking at something much more like Meiji era Japana, with a Western-style civil administration organized into a unified chain of command. I know the whole issue of "is this game even about samurai?" has been kicking around for years, so maybe I'm beating a dead horse here- and perhaps I'm the only one who cares about this kind of stuff. Still, it'd be nice to have a functioning model for how food actually gets on the Hiruma table. Without that, it's much harder to run interesting games involving internal Crab politics.

 

Again, thanks for the responses, always appreciated.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, robothedino said:

Thanks for the info guys- there were some fine points in there that I missed re: the Kuni barrens being not quite so barren, and the Hiruma having some near-side of the Wall holdings. That said-

Most of the points y'all raised were about the official, ceremonial status of the Hiruma. I'm more interested in the functional aspects of the situation. Again, I'm approaching this from a perspective based on the principle that, whatever else is true about Rokugan, the samurai who populate it are still human beings and function according to the basic universals of human psychology.

If I am a Hiruma, theoretically sworn to a Hiruma lord, but the rice I eat is farmed in Hida lands, given to me by a Hida lord, I serve in Hida lands, live in a Hida castle, etc., then whatever the paperwork says or what syllables come in front of my personal name, I am in every practical respect a retainer of the Hida family. And functionally that means that if the Hida daimyo gives me orders that conflict with those of my putative Hiruma lord, well... it's honor or rice. 

You might respond with, "well, why would the Hida lord give orders conflicting with the Hiruma lord? After all, they're all part of the same Clan, and the Hiruma are subordinate to the Hida..." But at that point, you've thrown feudalism itself out the window, and the game is no longer a samurai game at all- we're basically looking at something much more like Meiji era Japana, with a Western-style civil administration organized into a unified chain of command. I know the whole issue of "is this game even about samurai?" has been kicking around for years, so maybe I'm beating a dead horse here- and perhaps I'm the only one who cares about this kind of stuff. Still, it'd be nice to have a functioning model for how food actually gets on the Hiruma table. Without that, it's much harder to run interesting games involving internal Crab politics.

 

Again, thanks for the responses, always appreciated.

You are overthinking this, yes. If the Hiruma were a bunch of refugees with nothing to offer, sure, you'd have a point. But they're a Great Clan family, founded by one of the favored Lieutenants of their Kami, who provide the Crab with valuable service and capabilities in their fight against the Shadowlands. If they don't have enough land to feed themselves as a family, then they obtain it from another; the Yogo are in a similar situation, as their lands are mostly swamp or rocky foothills, and likely have to import food, probably from the Bayushi. It's in the best interests of these clans to ensure these families are stable, and capable of fulfilling their duty to the clan and, therefore, the Empire (incidentally, the Hida daimyo is also the Crab Clan Champion, which means that the Hiruma daimyo is going to be subordinate anyway. I realize you could just as easily substitute Kaiu for Hida, but this still raises an important point--EVERYONE in the clan is subordinate to the Clan Champion, so it really doesn't matter what the Kaiu daimyo thinks, if the Champion tells him to ship X amount of rice to the Hiruma; he just bows and does it. Now, these ARE people, so they can be petty and conniving; Hantei XX basically loved the Crane and the Lion, and ensured they remained relatively well-fed during the Great Famine, while the other clans struggled. That led to unrest, and even food riots in Otosan Uchi, but it can happen).

Your problem is that you're trying to equate Rokugan to specific economic and political systems from our world. Rokugan is a mish-mash of bits and pieces taken from different cultures, though, over different times--whatever works best for the setting dramatically. Attributes of the setting may be feudal, but others are more like the Meiji era. Superimposed on that is the Celestial Order, a social framework based on the edicts from actual gods, who have actually manifested in the world, and continue to do so. That means you can't discount the extent to which things like, it's like this because that's the way the Kami said it was, hold true in a way that they simply wouldn't in our world, where religious beliefs are more about faith than having had them demonstrated to be literally true.

Now, if you want to make the Hiruma's landlessness an issue in a campaign you're running, cool--there could be LOTS of interesting drama and story and role playing to come out of it. But in the "default" setting, the Hiruma's lack of land obviously isn't an issue, currently, as their clan is seeing to it that they have what they need, so they can keep on Hiruma'ing.

Edited by DGLaderoute

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6 hours ago, Magnus Grendel said:

To be fair, it's like 'Kyuden' Hida. 

The requirement for the 'Kyuden' rather than 'Shiro' title, in theory, is that it be a suitable place to host the Imperial Winter Court. 

Kyuden Hida is officially a 'palace' because it's unthinkable that a great clan not have one rather than because it's appropriate - it's big, sure, but it's also almost utterly without comfort and right on top of the Carpenter Wall, so an Emperor would have to be messed up in the head to voluntarily choose to host court there.

(Unless he or she had gotten irked with the diplomats in the capital and decided to punish the lot of them, in which case I guess holding court at Kyuden Hida comes second only to forcing lazy and indolent courtiers to hump their backsides all the way up to the High House Of Light......)

On my Dragon Campaign, the Empress Iweko IV decided to host it at the High House of Light after being convinced by the Ise zumi player about the health properties of eating "mountain tuna". 😂

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Greetings from the Sands, Evil-Smelling Brother-in-Law of a Camel!

5 hours ago, robothedino said:

If I am a Hiruma, theoretically sworn to a Hiruma lord, but the rice I eat is farmed in Hida lands, given to me by a Hida lord, I serve in Hida lands, live in a Hida castle, etc., then whatever the paperwork says or what syllables come in front of my personal name, I am in every practical respect a retainer of the Hida family. And functionally that means that if the Hida daimyo gives me orders that conflict with those of my putative Hiruma lord, well... it's honor or rice.

1. I think it have been established that some Great Clan, especially clan with large standing armies like the Crab or the Lion are not self-sufficient when it comes to food.

It have long been a staple of the Crane power that having large and productive farmlands they are able to starve their enemies.

It is also the whole point of the Yasuki, if the Crab were self-sufficient they would not need them. Feeding the vast Crab war machine which have been on a war footing for 1000 years require resources that the Crab lands alone can not provide, hence the need for a quartermaster family that are known for their dubious deals and cutthroat commercial acumen.

2. The lack of lands have been stated as a sore point for the Hiruma. Fearing that they have become a burden for the Crab is a deep wound for them.

To quote the Shadowlands book: "The Hiruma live in silent shame." & "To speak of the Hiruma holdings is a grave insult."

See you in the Sands.

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@DGLaderoute:

Your points are well taken, but I think you've misconstrued the nature of my objections (which, as has been well-stated, are simply handwaved within the canon and there aren't going to be satisfying answers found there). I do like my samurai to be, y'know, samurai, and not just soldiers with funny swords, but that can legitimately be answered with "well, play a different game then".

 

But accepting the fact that L5R isn't trying to be a facsimile of historical Japan, or rigorously realistic in its treatment of feudal politics, it is still trying to be a game about real people, and not honorbots. If everything were as simple as "authority X says Y and honor demands subject Z obey", there wouldn't be any stories to tell other than ones about external threats. There'd be no Yasuki break, for example- that's something that happened in the gameworld because the Yasuki family had actual individual motives, and were willing to break their vows to fulfill them. If you strip that out, nothing much happens in Rokugan- the Emperor tells everyone what to do, they do it, and the PCs have nothing interesting to get involved in.

 

More specifically to the Hiruma situation:

If Kaiu lord X is having the rice that is rightfully his confiscated and shipped to some other daimyo by Kisada's fiat, then perhaps honor demands he obey. What happens, then, when there's a bad year and he doesn't have enough rice to feed both his own people and those shiftless Hiruma? And when Bayushi so and so comes calling and says, "Hey, whatcha think about having a boss that doesn't use your hard work to subsidize some other schmuck", it presses hard on my suspension of disbelief to think they'd say, "Nah, I'd rather just impoverish myself personally, as well as condemn my sworn followers to starvation."

The point about "but in Rokugan, the gods are really real" doesn't hold much water with me, because it comes from a secular perspective. Talk to people of faith- unless they've been highly influenced by secular thought, they don't really think of their beliefs as anything but fact. Whether its blood being spiritually defiling or Jesus dying for your sins, actual believers consider these things to be just as factual and incontrovertible as the world being round or germs causing disease. Not directly observable, perhaps, but completely provable. Point being, this supposed difference between Rokugan and our world isn't much of a difference, in my opinion. As an evangelical Christian once put it to me, "Religion is man trying to speak to God. Christianity is God speaking to man."

In RW Japan, of course, the Emperor was never deposed, just progressively marginalized into a figurehead for this exact reason- people really believed he was a divinely descended, semi-superhuman being. They were also just very good, as human beings are, at rationalizing that belief alongside their own self-interest, so clever and ambitious people came up with a way to say, "I'm not stripping the emperor of his power- just, y'know, doing the heavy lifting for him!" When Emperor Go-Daigo challenged the shogunate, they didn't do away with Emperors, just set up a new one and said, "Well of course that guy

 

Here's the thing about all this: I can believe that any given individual Crab daimyo will put up with all this out of unselfish commitment to honor. I can even believe that the majority of them will do so. What I can't believe is that every single one of them will. It only takes one daimyo to say, "Eh, this genteel poverty thing is not my jam" for the system to fall apart. Most likely, this takes the form of a land grab, either against a neighboring clan if possible, or a neighboring Crab family if not. Or a defection to another clan. Or just going rogue and leading a merry band of ronin to pillage the land. Certainly you can say that this sort of thing doesn't happen in Rokugan, on the basis of a kind of fairy tale atmosphere that works for some people, and perhaps that's the kind of game most L5R players want to play. But I want to believe that there's a way to make this make sense (again, not in terms of feudal political systems specifically, but in terms of the human motivations that generate political systems)

 

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11 minutes ago, robothedino said:

Here's the thing about all this: I can believe that any given individual Crab daimyo will put up with all this out of unselfish commitment to honor. I can even believe that the majority of them will do so. What I can't believe is that every single one of them will. It only takes one daimyo to say, "Eh, this genteel poverty thing is not my jam" for the system to fall apart. Most likely, this takes the form of a land grab, either against a neighboring clan if possible, or a neighboring Crab family if not. Or a defection to another clan. Or just going rogue and leading a merry band of ronin to pillage the land. Certainly you can say that this sort of thing doesn't happen in Rokugan, on the basis of a kind of fairy tale atmosphere that works for some people, and perhaps that's the kind of game most L5R players want to play. But I want to believe that there's a way to make this make sense (again, not in terms of feudal political systems specifically, but in terms of the human motivations that generate political systems)

 

Your arguments are completely fair and yes, the Yasuki were willing to throw away a "comfortable" life style with the Crane to join the Crab on the wall, but even this specific Empire shattering event happened because the Emperor (through agents) actually influenced such thing to happen to try and break some of the power the Crane had.

In that case, it requires the "head" Daimyo of the Kaiu family, for instance, to get pissed with how their taxes are being used to feed landless Hiruma, another clan to convince said Daimyo to try and defect to them and an extremely weak Emperor that is somehow unable to prevent anything or a cunny Emperor that actually wants all this to happen.

That's the political situation and in the last 5 centuries this exact combination of a resentful Great Family Daimyo, a rival Great Clan Champion willing to go into this fight to get them and a weak or cunny Emperor didn't show up at the same time.

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5 minutes ago, robothedino said:

It only takes one daimyo to say, "Eh, this genteel poverty thing is not my jam" for the system to fall apart. Most likely, this takes the form of a land grab, either against a neighboring clan if possible, or a neighboring Crab family if not

That does happen. Whilst war between the great clans is forbidden, it's amazing what you can get away with under the label "border dispute" - the Lion and Crane have been busy not-having-a-war for several years at this point. 

Generally fighting is between great clans, or great clans intimidating independent minor clans, rather than within a clan, but there's no shortage of political rivalry within a clan (two have ongoing attempted coups and another has one simmering away in the background). 

In terms of food for the Hiruma, yes. Some of it comes from lands administered by the Hiruma, others come from the clan champion out of the Clan's bottom line. 

One thing to remember is that whilst Hida Kisada is a Hida, he's the Clan Champion seperately from being Hida Family Daimyo, and it's the clan champion who'd be dispersing koku to  the Hiruma.

The Hiruma daimyo is the clan champion's personal vassal, just like all the other family Daimyo's. 

That makes more sense in cases where the Clan Champion isn't also a family daimyo (like Doji Hotaru was before her father's death), but individuals with multiple legal personas is a big thing in the setting.  

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Well, sure, I acknowledged that we try to portray these people as people, so sure, there are going to be individuals that choose to stray from the status quo, tell the system to go screw itself, and do what they think is best for, well, themselves, or their followers, or some other motivation or idea. 

That's...kinda where the story we're telling comes from.

After all, we've seen nothing BUT departures from this norm, people behaving as people. The Emperor upends his succession on what amounts to a "feeling". Kachiko opportunistically tries to turn the Emperor's murder into a power-grab. Kuwanan wants to unseat his sister, the legitimate Clan Champion. Tsuko DID unseat her Champion. Altansarnai broke off her engagement to the Ikoma daimyo. Yori seems to be awfully fond of trying to turn the Shadowlands against itself. And so on, and so on. On top of this, the clans constantly bicker and skirmish over lands and resources; we recently had a story regarding the Lion and the Unicorn about that very thing. This is nothing BUT what you're advocating.

But what you originally asked was, WHY are the Hiruma and Kuni not considered more like vassal families among the Crab. I, and several others, have told you why. Whether those explanations "hold water" for you is entirely up to you; they are what they are (incidentally, regarding religious belief--sure, I know that devout people in our world often consider their belief to be fact. But there are legions of people who disagree, because they adhere to other beliefs, or don't believe at all. This is very different than a culture like Rogkuan, in which EVERYONE is fully aware that the gods do really exist, having objective evidence for it, and that there is only one pantheon of them. This is no longer individual belief; this is collective acceptance of fact, a very different sort of environment, and a fact that fundamentally shapes the entire society.) Now, will the current Kaiu daimyo accept sending rice to the Hiruma, to the extent that they need it, or will they rebel against it? So far, they haven't. However, the current one might. The next one might. Or not. It's hard to address things that haven't happened yet, and never might.

In the end, this is the social construct, derived from a thousand years of history, and the edicts of the Kami propagated down through the Celestial Order. The Hiruma and Kuni are Great Clan families and, in the setting, that's as far as that goes. They are, because they are--because Hida declared it, and Hantei endorsed it. But the actions of individual samurai within that construct can be all over the place. So, while the current story might have everyone okay with the Hiruma and Kuni carrying on being Great Clan families despite their respective situations, it might not always. And in your own game, you can turn this into a major issue for the players, as I said--why not?

Beyond that, I'm not sure what you're now asking. You asked a question that has been answered, and now you seem to determined to declare that answer somehow "wrong". It's objectively right, because, again, it is what it is. Subjectively, though, if you disagree, cool. I don't think I could possibly say anything more that won't just start retreading the same ground over and over again. 

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2 minutes ago, DGLaderoute said:

-snip- This is very different than a culture like Rogkuan, in which EVERYONE is fully aware that the gods do really exist, having objective evidence for it, and that there is only one pantheon of them. -snip-

The Moto and the rest of the world disagrees with you there.

The fact that the rest of the Empire doesn't know of other pantheons it's not proof that they don't exist, necessarily.

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37 minutes ago, Lord of the Seal said:

Greetings from the Sands, Evil-Smelling Brother-in-Law of a Camel!

1. I think it have been established that some Great Clan, especially clan with large standing armies like the Crab or the Lion are not self-sufficient when it comes to food.

It have long been a staple of the Crane power that having large and productive farmlands they are able to starve their enemies.

It is also the whole point of the Yasuki, if the Crab were self-sufficient they would not need them. Feeding the vast Crab war machine which have been on a war footing for 1000 years require resources that the Crab lands alone can not provide, hence the need for a quartermaster family that are known for their dubious deals and cutthroat commercial acumen.

2. The lack of lands have been stated as a sore point for the Hiruma. Fearing that they have become a burden for the Crab is a deep wound for them.

To quote the Shadowlands book: "The Hiruma live in silent shame." & "To speak of the Hiruma holdings is a grave insult."

See you in the Sands.

The Crab and Lion are traditionally self-sufficient for food (the Dragon are not).  Otherwise they would be too dependent on the Crane and would be starving right now the way the Lion are...the Crane are starving themselves due to a famine and don't have the material to trade.  However, the army does not run on food alone and the Yasuki need to wheel and deal to provide many other things the Crab require and to give them /power/, which is also necessary.

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6 minutes ago, Diogo Salazar said:

The Moto and the rest of the world disagrees with you there.

The fact that the rest of the Empire doesn't know of other pantheons it's not proof that they don't exist, necessarily.

I'm not suggesting that it is. I'm simply saying that this is what the Empire believes...generally, and officially.

Of course, there are other belief systems, in the Caliphate, in the Ivory Kingdoms, among the Yobanjin...even within the Empire, there are heretics. And no, I'm not going to go down the rabbit hole of, are any of these belief systems right, or all of them, and how could all of them be right, etc. There's no satisfactory and general answer to that. For our purposes, it's sufficient to say that the Empire believes their view of the world is the only correct one, and they base that on actual, face-to-face dealings with divinity. So, for our purposes, they are "right", the beliefs of the Moto or anyone else notwithstanding.

In other words, to the Rokugani, it doesn't matter WHAT the Moto and the rest of the world think. And since we're dealing with some basic questions about how Rokugani society works, that's sufficient for this thread.

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Greetings from the Sands, Evil-Smelling Brother-in-Law of a Camel!

24 minutes ago, KakitaKaori said:

The Crab and Lion are traditionally self-sufficient for food (the Dragon are not).  Otherwise they would be too dependent on the Crane and would be starving right now the way the Lion are...the Crane are starving themselves due to a famine and don't have the material to trade.  However, the army does not run on food alone and the Yasuki need to wheel and deal to provide many other things the Crab require and to give them /power/, which is also necessary.

From Emeral Empire (4th edition) Regional supply and demand p136:

The Crab lands are mostly rugged and barren, and relatively little of their territory is well-suited to agriculture. It doesn’t help them, of course, that so much of the Hiruma and Kuni lands were lost to the Shadowlands or devastated by exposure to the Taint. Even in a good year, the Crab barely produce enough food to feed themselves, especially since the enormous standing garrison of the Great Carpenter Wall is a perpetual drain on their food supplies. The clan therefore exports no rice, and often has to rely on food imports to get by.

[...]

The Crab’s most important commodity, however, is without a doubt the abundant and high-quality iron ore mined in the Hida lands, which in turn is used to create the clan’s most valued export: Kaiu steel and the weapons, armor, and tools made from it.

[...]

The Crab can never have enough jade to satisfy the needs of their armies, and during eras of shortage, when jade production falls, the Crab often are forced to trade other goods for more jade in order to keep their armies fully supplied.

To sum up:

- The Crab Clan need food and jade, the Yasuki buy it by selling Tea & Ore.

 

From Emeral Empire (4th edition) Regional supply and demand p138:

The Lion Clan’s only significant import needs are iron (usually supplied by the Crab) and sometimes food [...] this has often worked to their detriment when a poor harvest coincides with a war against the Crane.

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Posted (edited)
53 minutes ago, DGLaderoute said:

 

Beyond that, I'm not sure what you're now asking. You asked a question that has been answered, and now you seem to determined to declare that answer somehow "wrong". It's objectively right, because, again, it is what it is. Subjectively, though, if you disagree, cool. I don't think I could possibly say anything more that won't just start retreading the same ground over and over again. 

I think you might be misreading me here- I'm not trying to convince anyone else to understand the setting differently than they prefer to. At the end of the day this is all make believe and the idea of something being objectively right or wrong is silly in the same way that two people (who don't believe in elves) arguing about what elves "are really like". If one of them is a Tolkien fan and the other is steeped in traditional folklore, they're going to have different ideas about what an elf "should" look like, but hopefully they can agree at the end of the day that in reality elves don't look like anything at all, because they don't exist.

 

What I am looking for here is, in part, something I already got, which was some references to printed material that clarifies or corrects my understanding.

What remains now is an invitation for some creative thinking on how one could rationalize the canonical setting with an added in setting element or principle of realpolitik. If that's not of interest to you, then that's fine- this thread is then not addressed to you.

 

In other words- this is intended to be a brainstorming session, not a debate. Everything I've said previously that was interpreted to be an argument should be reread as a preference. 

 

Edit: I feel like I should clarify my end goal here a bit more. I'm not trying to hammer the round peg of Rokugan into the square hole of feudal Japan just to be a pedant. What I do want is to be able to do what works for my creative process, which is to draw on the infinitely rich well of history for inspiration. The history books are just packed with s**t that you just can't make up, and if someone put it into a fantasy RPG sourcebook, you'd say "I know we've accepted dragons and magic, but that's too out there for me". I want to be able to use that stuff in my Rokugan without having to rewrite the setting from scratch- primarily because most of my RP is done online, with strangers, who are not necessarily going to be willing to sit through a 20 page setting document that revises everything they thought they knew. So put in other words, my goal is to get as much as the canonical setting as possible while leaving room for what seems to me to be basic logic and the overall feel of a gritty, down and dirty medieval realpolitik. 

Edited by robothedino
for clarity

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3 minutes ago, DGLaderoute said:

The Hiruma and Kuni are Great Clan families and, in the setting, that's as far as that goes.

For that matter, look at it the other way: what, really is the difference between a clan family other than the ruling family, and a vassal family of the ruling family? 

It's mostly social status (assuming the two family's have similar size and wealth) - and the Kuni and Hiruma  are descended from two of the Kami Hida's original vassals.

It's basically the same argument in miniature about "why aren't the Mantis a great clan?" - Yoritomo's immediate lord is the Emperor and he is as rich and militarily powerful as, say, Togashi Tokuni, so the only reason to deny the Mantis the status is social custom.

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1 minute ago, Magnus Grendel said:

For that matter, look at it the other way: what, really is the difference between a clan family other than the ruling family, and a vassal family of the ruling family? 

That is exactly the question- and if you take the word "daimyo" in its RW sense, the answer is "sovereignty over productive land". A daimyo-level family taxes the peasantry, kicks up to the emperor, and goes to war when called upon by whoever their liege is.

A vassal family, to my thinking, holds no land- they have a name of their own as a mark of status, and perhaps certain privileges not afforded to others, but do not own land and are dependent on the stipends offered by a daimyo. Perhaps this is stated as otherwise somewhere in the last 20 years or whatever it is of L5R material, but that's how I've always read the distinction between those two terms.

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14 minutes ago, robothedino said:

That is exactly the question- and if you take the word "daimyo" in its RW sense, the answer is "sovereignty over productive land". A daimyo-level family taxes the peasantry, kicks up to the emperor, and goes to war when called upon by whoever their liege is.

A vassal family, to my thinking, holds no land- they have a name of their own as a mark of status, and perhaps certain privileges not afforded to others, but do not own land and are dependent on the stipends offered by a daimyo. Perhaps this is stated as otherwise somewhere in the last 20 years or whatever it is of L5R material, but that's how I've always read the distinction between those two terms.

I think you are trying to make a distinction in Rokugan where there is none.  Do you really think the Moto farm the land in the extreme Western parts of their territory?  Or the Utaku on their relatively barren plains?  Those families may have land unlike the Hiruma, but like the Kuni, it is not productive.  Same goes for most of the Dragon Lands. 

And while the Kaito are an FFG addition to L5R, it could be argued that their farmable lands are just as small as the few land holdings of the Hiruma by the Shinomen Forest.  And the Kaito have been promoted from simply a Vassal family of the Isawa to a major family on equal footing to the Asako, Shiba, and Isawa at the order and direction of the Phoenix Clan Champion Shiba Tsukune and with the blessing of the Emperor.  So there is precedent.

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11 minutes ago, neilcell said:

I think you are trying to make a distinction in Rokugan where there is none.  Do you really think the Moto farm the land in the extreme Western parts of their territory?  Or the Utaku on their relatively barren plains?  Those families may have land unlike the Hiruma, but like the Kuni, it is not productive.  Same goes for most of the Dragon Lands. 

Right, where this is where I start running into suspension of disbelief issues. You have to start assuming (again) that these people are not quite sane in the sense we all understand, or that their lands are productive in some respect other than in rice farming. Naturally, the Moto don't farm anything, because they're part of the aristocracy. But being an aristocrat, by definition, means extracting wealth from the peasantry through prestige and force. Maybe the Moto's peasants are horse ranchers instead of rice farmers, but there must be something worth doing in those lands, economically speaking- otherwise, why bother ruling it at all? And if the answer is "that's just the hand they were dealt", you'd then have to imagine that generation after generation of provincial daimyos looked at their neighbors' rich lands, or opportunities to raid and plunder to the west, or whatever else, and said, "Nah, we're good. Anybody else want to chew this stick with me?"

11 minutes ago, neilcell said:

And while the Kaito are an FFG addition to L5R, it could be argued that their farmable lands are just as small as the few land holdings of the Hiruma by the Shinomen Forest.  And the Kaito have been promoted from simply a Vassal family of the Isawa to a major family on equal footing to the Asako, Shiba, and Isawa at the order and direction of the Phoenix Clan Champion Shiba Tsukune and with the blessing of the Emperor.  So there is precedent.

Right- my assumption would be that means they received a grant of land from existing Phoenix holdings. Otherwise, they're still receiving a stipend from another lord.

 

I think another way to put this question would be:

What is the difference between a landless (or land-owning but without any income thereby) daimyo and a high-ranking hatamoto?

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