The sounds of the horse's hooves on the road are muffled, turned by the light snowfall into a crunch of hard-packed frost under iron-shod hoof. The grey stallion exhales, a burst of steam coming from it's nose as you make your way as speedily as the cold weather will allow you to your destination.
The thick woven straw cape wrapped around your shoulders keeps you relatively warm, but you're used to roughing it so you bear it.
"A samurai bears pain and discomfort without sound or complaint," you mutter under your breath, quoting Akodo himself. You wonder if the Amatsukami, the Great Kami descended from Amaterasu herself and ancestors of the Great Clans (well, except one of them) ever got cold?
"Where's an annoying monk when you need one?" you mutter aloud to your horse, largely out of habit; a shugeyosha does not often have many traveling companions after all. Plus, the horse never tells you to shut up or that your jokes aren't funny.
As you round the side of the hill, you see the not-quite frozen stream and the wide bridge over it that leads to the checkpoint out of the Oiku Province and to the road all the was to Toshi Ranbo, your eventual destination, and you smile a bit; you are getting sick and tired of freezing your ass off in the cold all because of this stupid invitation burning a hole in your kimono.
You're only going because it's hugely disrespectful to refuse anyway.
Your smile turns into a frown as you lift up your jingasa hat and see that the bridge appears to be occupied even in the dark of the early morning, with one of the figures pacing left and right.
"Damn it," you mutter.
You went the LONG way around hoping to avoid this shit, but the roads over the hills were frozen and you're already probably going to get into a lot of trouble for being late so you HAD to take the main road to get here.
You shift your katana into the upright position in your obi, blade facing up even as you leave the weapon it it's saya.
It's an obvious threat, but an unspoken one.
Maybe that will be enough, but you doubt it.
You keep riding forward and don't make eye contact with the four men. You recognize two of them, but two are new. It doesn't make you feel any better. Matsu Shinta (worst name EVER for a Matsu) paced back and forth like a....well, like a Lion in it's cage waiting for food.
His face looks up when he sees you, left hand gripping his saya tight enough that you can see the knuckles whiten even in the dark.
"Temeee!" the samurai says to you rudely, pointing at you like you slept with his mother or something.
"Get off your damn horse and on your feet!" he commands, and his friends (looking slightly more unsteady then he does) ready themselves for trouble as well.
You sigh, must coming from your mouth.
"Yare yare....," you say under your breath, dismounting from the horse.
>[Just Draw Already]
"Ohyao, Matsu-san," you say, tipping uo your jimgasa with your thumb. "Fancy meeting you out here. Figured you'd have more important things to do them see me off the Lion lands, ne?"
You don't say aloud that you can certainly think of more important things to do then bother with his petty pride, but the statement hangs between you invisibly, another kimono on a clothing line that already is about to break.
"You thought I would let your insult go unchallenged?!" he says proudly. "You dishonored my family name, and I will have satisfaction!"
"I dishonored nothing," you point out, honest as always. "You refuted my claims, I refuted yours and then you lost. I think that about sums up what happened."
"Bokken are NOT the true test of a bushi! Kawagami Shinta no Matsu, School of the Swift Claw, SHOBU-DA!" he says, taking up a stance and his gaze unwavering.
>"There's no reason for you to do this. It's been settled already." [Reason]
>[Accept: he's not looking for an explanation, he's looking for an excuse.]
You look around at him and his three friends, who look less certain about this but say nothing.
"No," you say simply, but you don't get back on your horse.
Kawagami Shinta of the House of Matsu falters, his face flitting between anger and confusion.
"Why NOT?!" he demands, as if the reasoning wasn't already obvious, and you briefly loose your composure.
"Because you'll DIE, BAKE NE!" you state back with an edge to your voice and a harder look in your eye then you meant to give.
You can't help it; he wants to risk his life to cover face for his own mistake? There's better ways to wipe away his shame, ones that DON'T involve delaying you even more then you already HAVE been delayed.
"We dueled. I won, you lost. The matter has been decided in an official duel sanctioned by a Magistrate from YOUR Clan. Whatever grievances you have have been completely solved aboveboard and legally through all the proper channels! How you deal with your shame is on YOUR head, NOT mine! If you want your belly cut so damn bad then do it yourself, because I do NOT have time for this shit!" you say in frustration.
You've been restraining yourself with this asshole since you first found the body, and right about now your patience is wearing pretty thin.
"She....was a yujo!" he says by way of explanation, and you can see that be genuinely believes it's a fair excuse.
And there it is; he genuinely believes that just because she was a prostitute, it was okay to kill because of...whatever insult she might have gave him accidentally.
"I'll not commit seppuku over a heimin woman's death!" he reiterates.
You sigh again, removing your straw coat and hat, placing them in your horse and putting one hand on your saya.
You gotta admit, his stance isn't bad. A bit hasty and a bit too tense, but not bad.
"You're not telling this go, are you?" you say, and there's a bit of bitterness in your voice.
You genuinely don't want to duel this man again, and it's clear that the lesson you gave him earlier didn't take.
So really there's only one type of lesson you can give that will; the final one.
"Ore wa Kawagami Shinta no Matsu! SHOBU-DA!" he shouts, officially introducing himself again, his only response,
You take up your own stance.
"Toku Jubei, Son of Toku Munenori, nephew of Toku Mitsuyoshi accepts your challenge," you say, ending any thoughts of finishing this peacefully.
You full name causes the other three to start a bit; they recognize it. Good. Means you might not have to kill them afterwords.
"I don't CARE about your heritage, Monkey!" Shinta spits in fury, and you can see he recognizes it too but it only makes him even angrier for some reason. "Did you REALLY think you could talk me down, like some Crane?!"
"I guess not," you say, thumbing out your sword by the tsuba with a familiar CLICk.
"A Crane would know better."
The Lion Clan and the Crane Clan are political and martial rivals, and the Matsu Family of the Lion takes it mouth-frothingly seriously. He basically just called him an idiot and his family's rival clan wouldn't be stupid enough to challenge him.
Exactly two seconds later the snow on the bridge is a different color and the tsuba on your sword hits your saya as you sheathe it with an identical CLICK to the first one.
You exhale, and look up at his friends.
"Are we going to have a problem?" you say in a way that leaves the unspoken meaning of the statement plainer then the color of Shinta's blood.
They look unsure, but one shakes his head.
"No, Toku-san. You won the duel fairly and we all have observed it," he says, and the way he says it tells you he regrets not convincing his former friend to just leave you be.
Too late now.
"Good. Ja ne," you say informally, not even bothering with a proper formally goodbye, turning and putting on your hat and coat.
"We didn't know who you were," he admits, shaking his head and moving to his friend's remains. You can see in his kimono the Akodo family mon.
"Should that have mattered?" you ask dryly as you mount your grey stallion, fastening your jingasa and cloak.
He shakes his head after a momwnt's thought and replies; "No. No it shouldn't have."
You say nothing more as you kick your horse back into gear and walk down the path to Toshi Ranbo, and you once again take out the invitation and read it;
>"Toku Jubei of the Monkey Clan, Son of Ruby Champion Toku Munenori and nephew of the Daimyo of the Toku Family Toku Mitsuyoshi and former Topaz Champion is invited by Imperial Decree to WINTER COURT at Toshi Ranbo wo Shien Shite Reigisaho, Violence Behind Courtliness City.
>1406 Isawa Calender
You sigh as you look at the Imperial Mon, the crysthanthemum, stamped in golden wax and leaving no illusions of this was official or not.
You sort of wish it was; you're not big on court of any kind, let alone the highest court in the Emerald Empire.
You wonder who even invited you?
I know I was hoping for Crab
An overview of the setting; it's a not-quite Japan setting mixed with some vague Western fantasy elements.
This is a timeline removed by a few centuries from the official one taking place in a fairly alternate continuity, so even people familiar with it can expect some surprises.
Or in short: magical samurai drama intrigue.
The issue with doing the Great Clans as a character is that your choices are inherently limited; if doesn't matter WHAT the Clan does, you HAVE to support them, even if you don't agree, otherwise you become ronin or have to lull yourself in protest; no middle ground.
The Monkey Clan is small, but has influential friends and most importantly is a NEUTRAL PARTY to the Great Clans.
Also, it's pretty hard to employ the sort of humor I usually do with anyone other then the Toku; the ULTRASERIOUS samurai thing is pervasive across almost every Clan, and the Monkey the only one known for their weird sense of humor.
Toku had extreme writer favoritism (Bordering on Mary Sue, but not quite, since he didn't overshadow the important characters from the era), and for a while, the clan he got for being a writer's pet could do no wrong and were the best at everything they involved themselves in.
Then the Spider Clan usurped that position and the Monkey became a footnote at best.
But there are the same problems for being in a Minor Clan. Not only do you have to toe the clan line, but you also have to deal with the fact that anyone you piss off could have a huge amount of backing from a much, much larger clan than yours.
Minor clans come and go, but there's usually somewhere between 6 and 12 of them. Give or take, depending on whether the Mantis are playing Pokeclan and how many free-for-all wars happened lately.
By the time you get to Toshi Ranbo's outskirts it's started snowing again, but more lightly.
Sitting on the river is the second-largest city in the Empire, and towering over it is the Shogun's Palace where Kaneka Ashikage himself coordinates the Imperial Legions of the Empire, maintaining peace and order across all of Rokugan...or would, but right now they're sort of locked down wherever they were before Winter hit.
The Shogun's Palace now ALSO happens to be holding the Emperor himself and half the courtiers in the entire Empire you're guessing.
You don't like politics much; your Clan is a Minor one and unlike most of the others you stem from no parent Clan and thus have no real alliegences to any of them since your Clan originate directly from Imperial Decree by Toturi I centuries ago now.
Your Clan mostly uses that prestige to simply serve the Empire as a whole in the Imperial Legions or as an Emerald Magistrates; nobody gets preferential treatment, Bushido is followed, justice under the Emperor's name is met.
But Winter Court is ALL about politics; right now your father is probably in Otosan Uchi, the Imperial Capitol, and is performing his duties as the Ruby Champion; this is normally what he would deal with, not you.
Toshi Ranbo is a weird choice for Winter Court; usually the Emporer decides where he holds Winter Court at the Clan holding that he favors most, but Toshi Ranbo is an Imperial holding controlled by the Shogun, who is technically the Emporer's distant relative you suppose.
"What does that mean? That NOBODY'S the favorite this year?" you mutter.
In the canon setting, no; it was made in the early-mid 90's, and suffice to say that there's....kind of a lot of errors involving it's Japanese-flavored everything at all. In this timeline, yes there is and it's causing socioeconomic problems that could potentially have very bad consequences.
European traders take the form of the Merenae and Thrane.
A great historical event occurred called The Battle of the White Stag, where foreign forces attempted to invade due to false accusations of murder.
Because of this rokugan has outlawed gunpowder entirely, and all foreigners are generally treated with, at best, distrust, and violence at worse.
Mantis (Up until a certain point, when they became a Great Clan), Centipede, Wasp, Boar, Badger (Mostly dead), Bat, Dragonfly, Falcon, Fox, Hare, Oriole, Ox, Sparrow, Tortoise, and a bunch of others that I can't remember off the top of my head. Many of them were wiped out or absorbed into other clans (The Mantis in particular)
And no, Rokugan is exceedingly xenophobic and hasn't had official trade with anyone for hundreds of years. At least, up to the official "current" part of the timeline. This is an alternate setting that's quite beyond that point, though, so who knows.
You kick your horse Nanashi, into the city and even at this early hour and in the winter it's filled with activity.
You look at yourself in your reflection in the river as you cross over the bridge; you look as clean as you could get yourself, shaved (which you do regularly anyway) but with your sideburns left on; sideburns is something of a common trait in the men of your family, and who are you to go against that?
Your clothes are more fit for traveling then for court, but you ARE a shugeyosha, a student-warrior, traveling the Empire honing your fencing and other combat skills, but mostly trying to do some good wherever you go.
Oh, and trying to stay out of politics, that too. You wonder how they even got that invitation to you? You were halfway across the empire a month or so ago in Zakyo Toshi and then this delivery boy runner just jogs up and hands it to you.
You bet it's Ryoko's fault.
Somehow she found out where you were and got you the invitation so you couldn't refuse; she's always pestering you to have more court presence then you do.
>[You'd better go check in at the Palace and do...whatever formalities they want first.]
>[You're hungry and haven't eaten a hot meal in almost five days; food first, THEN boring formalities.]
>>[You'd better go check in at the Palace and do...whatever formalities they want first.]
Announcing your presence is important. Wouldn't want the clerk who keeps track of the door to get snooty and insulted.
You have a brief battle of wills with your stomach, but your stomach wins; you've been subsisting on onigiri for some time now, and there's only so many rice balls one can eat before one wants something more substantial.
You ride your horse to an open street near the canal splitting the center of the city where an izakaya is up and running while the chef cooking a woman (his daughter or wife or something) is busy extolling the virtues of his cuisine.
"Unagi and sake, unagi and sake! The combination that can't be beat! We have rice and pickles! Gives you long life and has amazing health benefits," she shouts to the crowd even as you dismount and head inside, with her nodding her head slightly.
The mood inside is cheerful, but talkative, and both samurai and commoner are in attendance here.
>"Heard the gaijin are actually sending someone to the Court-"
>"No way! They shouldn't even be allowed in the Shogun's presence, let alone the Emperor's!"
>"-hear Kakita Kenshin is in attendance, his dueling record is-"
>"-if you ask me the teppo the Imperial Legions are using are almost blasphemous, they spit in the face of tradition-"
>"-Phoenix isn't sending as much of a presence as usual, maybe trade with the Yobanjin-"
>"-will be war again soon enough no matter what the Shogun says, the Crane and Lion are foaming at the mouth to go at it after so long without a war-"
>"Most beautiful hooker I've ever seen-"
>"She was a Scorpion dude, trust me-"
You listen to all and ignore it all too.
As you take a seat, a pretty serving girl walks up with an "Irasshimase!".
"What can I get you samurai-san?"
>"Unagidon and sake with tsukemono."
Barbecued freshwater eel with egg and rice and pickled vegetables on the side.
>"Tempuradon, no sake."
Tempura and rice.
Simmered chicken, egg, on rice with scallions.
Isn't that the clan that was inspired by pic related from Seven Samurai?
"Oyakodon and sake," you say with a nod. "Sake doesn't need to be too expensive."
She bows and rushes off to place the order, leaving you listening to the crowd.
Most of the talk seems to revolve around the gaijin delegation to Otosan Uchi from....Marenae you think it's called? and how they are allowed to attend Winter Court to everyone's surprise. It likely has to do with trade, as the Emperor trades both with Thrane and Marenae but favors Thrane, though you hear the agreements involving them are starting to piss off the Shogun since he believes that the trade is too unfair.
A lot of people hate the increased trade with the gaijin nations that's been happening, but the obscene amounts of wealth it brings is too good to ignore; the Lion and the Crane tried to pretend the economy was beneath them for almost fifty years after foreign trade opened up, and that led to the Mantis Clan utterly dominating the economy of the Empire for awhile since they were the only ones willing to profit from it.
The Lion HATE it; they've always been traditionalists (you heard once that the Matsu family would genuinely have rather died then use the teppo that are now relatively standard weapons amongst the Imperial Legions since they Yotodai Invasion), and always thought that economics was beneath the Buge caste.
Then suddenly they had a hard time feeding their samurai as inflation caused the value of rice to go up and their stipends stayed the same thanks to Clan Champion ignoring the increasing importance of trade.
Then there's the lack of war; after the Yotodai Invasion was stopped the increased potency of the Imperial Legions and the insistence of the Shogun that peace be maintained while the Yotodai remain a threat meant that none of the Great Clans have fought anything but skirmishes in decades.
Combine that with the increased number of Lion bushi and Crab bushi caused by a relative lack of conflict....
Toku also probably took inspiration from Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the peasant who rose to be one of the most important men in Japan and was most notably known as "Monkey" during his early life.
Your oyakodon arrives and you begin to dig in with an "Itadakimasu!" and fill your belly with actually cooked food for once.
Traveling in winter is a pain in the ass, and you pretty much had to subsist of rice balls since the rivers and streams were too frozen to fish.
"Are you saying you think the gaijin DESERVE to be here, Daidoji?" a voice shouts loud enough for the whole room to hear.
You think to yourself and begun eating as fast as possible.
"No, Akodo. I am saying that the orders of the Emporer are inviolable, and the Son of Heaven has decreed they shall be here," the other voice responds. "It is YOU that thinks you somehow know better then the Emperor and Shogun, Lion."
You turn to see the two arguing men; a Lion samurai and a Crane (the crane with the dyed white hair of the Daidoji family), both clearly at a standoff.
The Lion is bigger and stronger-looking, but you see that the Crane's shoulders are broad and he has some well defined muscle on his limbs.
If they fight this'll get messy fast.
>[Watch and eat. Quickly.]
>[Try and mediate.]
Sage are you incorporating anything from the D20 Oriental Adventures version of Rokugan
Who knows? I hope I don't, but real life has a way of derailing plans.
I AM sorry but real life takes priority, but if you don't like it then there's always another quest somewhere else I guess?
Don't know what to tell you anon.
"The Lion Clan has served as the Right Arm of the Empire since the beginning of history, Crane! Watch your tongue!" the Akodo samurai responds.
"And yet all you seem to do these days is complain about his commands," the Crane coolly responds.
"At least we don't lower ourselves to becoming common merchants like the Crane!"
"The Daidoji Trading Council serves at the pleasure of the Emperor. Unlike the Lion who seem to only be good for wars that are no longer being fought."
"If you know what's good for you Crane you'll-"
And so on and so forth.
This is going to end with one or both of them dead, you're guessing.
"I wonder if they ever get tired of arguing? Don't you think it would get tiresome?" says a voice like black silk next to you, which you turn to face. "They aren't even really arguing about the gaijin, they're just arguing to argue."
A Scorpion in regular civilian attire with his swords at his side and a black mempo over his face shaped in the form of a pleasant human jawline that seems to seamlessly mimic the handsome features above them is seated next to you. His black hair is tied back into a high braid, but unlike your small topknot over longer hair, he has no sideburns.
You know him of course; he's your brother in law.
"Konbanwa, Shinzo," you say quietly to him as you eat. "How did you get in here without me seeing?"
"Maybe I've been here the whole time and you never noticed Little Brother," he says with a smile you can only see in his eyes.
>[Formally greet him.]
>[Stay casual; he never seems to mind.]
>"Seriously, how did you know I was even here?"
>[Stay casual; he never seems to mind.]
>"Seriously, how did you know I was even here?"
On the one hand, he seems a reasonable chap, and he is family. On the other hand, I have an inherent mistrust of Scorpion from my days playing the RPG.
>>[Stay casual; he never seems to mind.]
I love the mask thing the Scorpions have
"Should I even ask how you knew exactly where I was?" you ask dryly as you eat a bit of chicken.
"Maybe it's a coincidence?" he says in a tone that suggests it's nothing but.
"You paid the city guards to let you know?" you guess.
"That would work, wouldn't it? I could have done that I suppose," he agrees, which is about as close to a "Yes" as you're going to get from him.
You've known Shosuro Shinzo since you were nine years old when you got engaged to his sister; he doesn't answer questions unless you can catch him off-guard with one or unless the answer is harmless, and sometimes not even then.
He's not a terrible person mind you; he's always polite, has a better sense of humor then most samurai you meet, is more willing to accept new ideas, and thinks flexibly, and has never been anything but loyal to you as a member of his family.
But he IS a liar. All Scorpion are.
It's why they all wear masks all the time, a subtle message that they cannot be trusted even when you have no choice but to trust them.
"Why are you in Toshi Ranbo anyway? Are you here for Winter Court?" you inquire, sipping some sake and pouring him some as well, which he graciously accepts.
"Mmmhmm. Yojimbo duty. Who do you think will win?" he asks, nodding at the Lion and Crane.
"The Lion. Akodo are better at fencing then Crane and he's mad enough to really want the other guy dead," you answer off-handedly. "Who's your charge?"
"Guess," he answers playfully.
You pause for a second and then sigh.
"It's Ryoko, isn't it?"
"Give the Monkey a banana."
"Is she mad at me?"
"Why would my little sister be mad at you?"
"I don't know, why WOULD she?"
"Could it be that she thinks you're in a musha shugyo to avoid her?"
"That's stupid. I even invited her to come along!"
"My sister is clearly not the outdoorsy type you are."
"Don't remind me...,"
"We should go. I'm sure this argument will involve swords in a minute," he advises.
>"I want to see who wins the duel first."
>"I'm done eating anyway."
"Hold on, I want to see who wins the duel," you say as you put down the bowl and pay for the meal.
"Morbid curiosity?" he inquires
"Professional interest. I'm a shugeyosha for a reason, remember?"
"I can honestly say I'm not particularly interested in finding out which one dies or lives, but I'm a little surprised you aren't trying to stop them."
"How? They've been flinging insults at each other for the last five minutes. They've both insulted each other's honor and the honor of their family and Clan half a dozen times apiece and the only thing that's stopping them is the Shogun's laws and Winter Court happening in the city," you point out. "Honor demands and apology and neither is going to give one. What else could I do? Beat them both up?"
"You know, not too long ago you'd have considered that an option."
"And I might if I thought it would help here," you admit. "But both are already going out."
You follow them outside with Shinzo and watch as they give their names and brag about who they are, with you folding your arms and leaning against the the wall with him.
"How's the eye, by the way?" he asks.
"Is this about that rumor that I lost it? I have no idea how that got started."
"Dammit. It was you, wasn't it?"
"Why would I do that?"
"I honestly have no idea."
"Ssh, they're starting."
There's a brief pause as they take up stances.
"Two bu on the Akodo?" Shinzo quips.
"No deal. Gambling's illegal."
"You're just mad because you didn't call him first."
There's a flash of movement and the thunk of steel hitting flesh; the Akodo struck well and his sword is in his oppoenent's torso....but the Daidoji did too and lived long enough to cut through the Lion's neck.
"Hmm. Bad kharma," you say sadly.
"I'm sure there's a metaphor in this somewhere," Shinzo muses, stroking the "chin" of his mempo in mock thought.
"Well unless you're composing a haiku right now, let's go already."
You and Shinzo leave the bloody street just as the Imperial Legions policing the city arrive to be angry at two dead men for dueling illegally in the city without sanction, and you lead your horse by hand.
"Nice horse. What's his name?" he asks.
"Nanashi," you respond automatically.
"Creative," he says.
Nanashi literally means "Anonymous" or "No-Name"; basically Jubei didn't name his worse and so just calls it No-Name.
>"So how IS Ryoko?"
>"Why did you spread the rumors about me loosing an eye?"
>"What's court like so far?"
Fuck yeah, an L5R quest thread!
>Lion asshole talking shit to a Toku
>Lion is a shit duelist
>"You dishonored me!"
>Lion clearly doesn't understand bushido
>Lion saying "Fuck your heritage!"
>To a member of the Toku family no less
>The person being insulted is far superior than the Lion in every way
>Lion doesn't even get a chance to put on his clan's mandatory red shirt before getting killed off
>Next Lion seems pretty good
>Lion actually struck first
>Still gets killed and in an extremely illegal and dishonorable circumstance. Just before Winter Court
Ah, the memories! It's like AEG never sold it! (I'm always bitter, ignore me and just go on with the quest)
>>"So how IS Ryoko?"
I get the feeling I'm going to like the Lions as much as the OTHER lions.
"How is Ryoko anyway? I haven't seen her for...I guess it's been about a year?"
"Try not to sound too relieved."
"I don't sound relieved," you retort.
"Worried about my sister while you're away, then?"
"No. She can take care of herself. I just wish I could see her more often," you admit.
"You miss her? Funny. You could always come home and find some other way to improve yourself then getting into trouble everywhere you go."
"And YOU could always stop wearing a mask."
"Everyone wears masks, Little Brother. We're just a bit more literal about it," he explains again. He's given you that explanation more times then you can count.
"Not me," is all you say in response.
"No," he agrees. His tone is somewhere between sad, admiring, and fond. "Not you."
You keep walking with him as you turn down the streets, which are this late hour and in the snow are often not filled with any travelers, though you're still aways from the Shogun's palace.
"Do you-?" Shinzo begins.
"Yeah," you say, interrupting him.
You're being followed.
It's my understanding with my admittedly limited knowledge of the setting that the Lion Clan are the designated redshirts of Rokugan because they're just about the only ones who actually take the whole "muh honor, muh traditions" thing with 100% seriousness and honesty. This gets them fucked over all the god damn time. Because they're bloody idiots. Best waifus, though.
>[Stop and call them out.]
Let's just get it over with.
Also the worfs. Though that was more of a problem with the biggest military and best generals being irrelevent as long as the Lion Clan wasn't winning any kotei
>>[Stop and call them out.]
It works like this; you know in all those samurai movies the samurai who are noble and strong and are quickly being left behind by changing times and are unable to adapt because they're too hide bound by tradition and aren't willing to change their ways and so become violent and vaguely self-destructive?
That's the Lion Clan; noble, heroic, traditional, and perhaps a little sad because inevitably the thing that always ends up happening in life (namely, change) always hits them the hardest.
They're the generic military clan, which means every time something big and bad comes along, they're the ones sent straight to the frontlines. Other major military forces have specific jobs (The Imperial Legions protect the royal family and imperial government, the Crab hold a specific border against constant attacks, ect), but the Lion (And sometimes the Unicorn) are the standard military response to anything else, and are often called in as backup to more specific forces when things are really fucked.
I don't use dice rolling, and I especially wouldn't use the L5R system where a lucky bandit with a few exploded dice could cripple you and anticlimactically kill you in one shot forcing me to lie about the roll and defeating the purpose in the first place.
Assume the same basic "physics" of L5R apply; skill is good but numbers are better and getting badly outnumbered and surrounded is a great way to get dead.
One of the most depressing Lion stories came from an alternate history, Iron Rokugun. The Empress never closes off the borders and technology advances due to not!Europeans. Despite their initial protests, the Lion Clan is honor bound to fulfill it's duty to be the Right Hand and obey the Empress, meaning they are forced to abandon their traditions in order to stay a relevant fighting force. Every advancement means prosperity for the Lion. More food, better army, better record keeping, but they accept all of it with silent reluctance even as the heavens anger and their own ancestors begin to abandon them.
>So the Lion remain steadfastly supportive of the Imperial Throne even as disenchantment steadily spreads through their ranks. No Lion dares mention his feelings out loud lest he shame his family, his sensei, and his ancestors by losing face for speaking against the Imperial Throne. During the later years of Empress Meisho’s reign, a new practice rises within the ranks of the Lion Clan: every morning, Lion Clan samurai leave their homes, stand before their ancestral shrines, and yell into the morning sky with all their might. All who hear this cry know it comes from a frustrated and anguished heart, a futile protest directed toward the heavens themselves. None speak of this new tradition; to do so would go against Bushido itself. And none question why the samurai of the Lion do this. They do it because they feel they can do nothing else.
"So these aren't your guys then?" you say as you keep walking next to Shinzo.
"Don't be ridiculous. Why would I have myself followed? That doesn't even-" he begins, and then he notices your slight smile. "Ah. You're being funny."
"Give the Monkey a banana," you echo back at him.
"Alright, very clever. Whoever they are they know how to be recently quiet, but they aren't professionals at all," he analyzes as he grips his saya.
"You mean like you?" you rib.
"I'm sure I don't know what you're talking about," he says reflexively.
"Of course not."
You both walk along silently before he speaks again, and you are now aware of how quiet everything is once snow has fallen upon it, and how still and empty the world seems.
"So, what do we-" Shinzo begins to ask, then you stop and turns around, gripping your saya and pointing the blade upward.
"Alright, that's enough! Come out and show yourselves, this is getting boring!" you shout out into the quiet night.
You allow yourself a look of satisfaction as you see Shinzo's flabbergasted expression above his mempo.
There's a brief silence before snow crunches and out from behind a few alleys six men come out; they all wear cloaks and shave straw kasa hats that hang low over their faces, with five slits cut in front of the hat to see.
They say nothing.
"Well?" you ask.
Then they all draw and charge you both.
>[Charge them right back!]
The best part about running a samurai series is how EASY it is to find genre-appropriate soundtracks.
They draw steel as one and charge, and both you and Shinzo draw your swords and run in the opposite direction!
"Not what I expected," you admit.
"What DID you expect?" Shinzo asks. As he speaks he reaches up to his black mempo and presses something.
The front of the mempo that looks like handsome human features (namely his) falls away in his palm, revealing a hissing adder's mouth design in their place, the tips of the fangs laqoured red.
His "game face", so to speak.
"I dunno. Not that," you say as you look behind you.
Two of the six closest to the edge of the street leap up and land on the rooftops, hemming you in as they give chase, making it impossible to cut down an alley on either side without being attacked!
"Where are we?!" you ask.
"Shuutensha District!" he responds.
"Too far to outrun them in this snow!"
"Not for them apparently, they're gaining!"
If I don't hear Ihojin no Yaiba at some point during this quest, you will have disgraced your famiry. Kimi wa Dare wo Mamotte Iru would also be nice, that it would. But not a requirement.
They're too fast; they're going to catch up at some point even while running!
>[Focus on Defense while you move!]
>[Wait for a chance to counter-attack!]
>[Turn it around in them and go full-offense when they get close!]
Eventually they get two steps away from striking distance and you decide to change the game a bit.
You suddenly skid in the snow to a stop and lunge at the one closest to you with a Migi-Do slash across his belly, putting your full weight had considerable strength behind it!
"AAAAARIYYYYYYAAA!" you war-cry as the tamahagane-made blade hits him right in his mid-section, four inches of razor-sharp edge tearing through the muscles on his abominals and through his guts, tearing all the way through out the other side and sending a spray of gore as your blade exits, splattering the one to your right as the dead man's intestines hit the snow-packed road!
Before they have a chance to react you move towards the next, dropping a Men chop right at the head of the nearest, forcing him to bring both hands up to parry the blow, the heel of his palm on the back of the sword to support the block! The sheer weight and strength behind the downward chop (you're a LOT stronger then you look) forces him to one knee and makes him exhale air from the impact!
Just to your right one of the other tsujigiri flanks you and readies a fast thrust you won't be able to parry from this angle, the force of your chop leaving you completely open!
Then a small throwing blade no wider then two fingers together hits him in his left shoulder, making him gasp with pain as the tiny lance of steel pain penetrates muscles he was tensing for use, causing him to drop his thrust!
Without waiting you bring up your right leg and luck with every ounce of weight and every pound of muscle you have into the tsujigiri you chopped army's chest as he kneels in front of you, and you feel ribs give away on impact and he falls back and hits the hard-packed snow on the ground HARD.
At the same time the man with the shiruiken in his shoulder turns towards Shinzo and cries out and grabs something thin that flies out towards his face and lances into his left eyeball!
You use the momentum from your kick to leap back into a run, ending up right next to Shinzo just as the remaining assassins dash after you after recovering from the surprise of your attack!
"Next time, warn me," Shinzo says dryly.
"By the way, I'm going to turn and hit them," you earn belatedly.
You keep running next to Shinzo, and you see a figure just up ahead, back turned towards you wearing white and black with a walking stick and a straw hat....a bonze?
He hears you and turns towards you, his bald head and plain features covered in robes as he speaks.
"Greetings, almsgivers! I don't suppose you know the way to-" he begins but blinks when he sees the steel your hands and the men chasing you down the street!
"RUN YOU IDIOT!" Shinzo says, grabbing the smaller man by the robe as you pass by him, dragging him with you!
"Be nice, he's a member of the clergy!" you shout back at Shinzo on reflex as you run next to him!
You're soon all three breathing hard as you reach area of the city next to the Shogun's Palace and the tsujigiri slowly drop off like a bad dream, apparently unwilling to chase you so close to it!
You all three stop as you stop halfway across the bridge, panting.
The assassins are nowhere to be seen.
>"Sorry, Brother. There wasn't time to be polite." [Apologize to the Monk]
>"What the hell was that about? [Talk to Shinzo]
>[See if you can flag down an Imperial Legionnaire]
>"Sorry, Brother. There wasn't time to be polite." [Apologize to the Monk]
>[See if you can flag down an Imperial Legionnaire]
And people wonder why i'd rather not attend these things.
>"Sorry, Brother. There wasn't time to be polite." [Apologize to the Monk]
Always be polite to monks, they're a couple feet to the left of the standard hierarchy so it's best to just play things safe.
>>"Sorry, Brother. There wasn't time to be polite." [Apologize to the Monk]
I think we found Genshu
"Apologies Brother....?" you ask.
"My Brotherhood name is Hiten, Almsgiver," the monk says, brushing himself off and reaching for his cane.
"Brother Hiten, then. Apologies," you says again.
"Something's wrong," Shinzo says.
"Don't apologize; you likely saved my life just now, roug though you were," the man in his thirties says, wheezing a bit as he leans with both hands in his cane.
"It's alright, I think we're good for now," you say, looking back at the street you came from.
"Jubei," Shizo interrupts again, not bothering with the formalities. "Something's wrong; why did they stop so suddenly? They attacked us right in the open before."
"I think they were afraid of getting into a fight too close to the palace walls, even this late," you say, though Shinzo's making you unsure now.
"That makes no sense," he argues. "We're at the outer wall of the Chuushou District, not the Palace. It's late at night during Winter Court, there might not even be any guards out patrolling outside the walls."
Suddenly he freezes, then spins without warning, his sword slashing out behind him!
The head of the bonze leaning on his cane goes flying off into the night, blood spraying from the stump as the corpse plops unceremoniously to the floor of the bridge!
"SHINZO! What the HELL-!" you begin, but the Shosuro steps forward and places his foot on the end of the dead man's cane and pulls on it.
The glint of steel and the familiar CLICK of a blade leaving a scabbard follows the movement and you stare in amazement.
"A shikokmizue?" you gasp in total shock.
"It was a trap. Think about it; the street was practically deserted, but there's a bonze over ten blocks away from the temple districts in the middle of night. They wouldn't let us off the street we were on and fell away almost as soon as he brought him with us. The tsujigiri were a distraction; we were being funneled to him."
You thought it was odd that the he was out here but you were too amped up to think about it at the time.
You exhale again, steam leaving your mouth.
"So....Shinzo," you say in a conversational tone of voice.
"Hai?" he responds, sheathing his sword.
"How's court been so far?" you inquire.
"....looks like court's going to be fairly interesting this year," he decides.
"Yeah. My kinda interesting," you agree.
>To Be Continued
>Winter Court at Toshi Ranbo!
>Meeting the Wife!
For those of you who don't know the Legend of the Five Rings setting, here's an online wiki for some kinda game
There's an entire section in here about the clans and culture that I actually give to my real-life players.
So for those of you who know your Jidaigeki shit; Toku Jubei is pretty obviously based off of Yagyu Jubei, who is perhaps one of the most romanticized samurai in all of Japanese history.
This quest will be taking heavy influence from not only L5R but also a more directly Japanese source, Futaro Yamada's Ninpocho (Ninja Scroll) novels, many of which heavily feature Yagyu Jubei.
If any of you are familiar with the anime/manga Basilisk, this is based off his novel Koga Ninpocho (Koga Ninja Scroll).
I'm sad to say that, as a filthy foreigner, I don't really understand why the ancestors are unhappy if things are changing for the better. Don't get me wrong, I have a thing against change like most humans do (sadly and fortunately, as is the typical paradox of humanity), but if I see positive change I'm generally at least slightly accepting.
Then again, I am from a nation that sent out an entire fleet of white warships to Japan shores just to make a point.
Ah, now I get it. In that case, I do feel sorry for them slightly. For some reason I'm reminded of the history of Gypsies, they lost a lot of their legitimate business with the advent of modern manufacturing and travel.
Actually in real life that had literally nothing to do with any of the reasons Japan was under sakoku (secluded country), and the real reasons were far simpler and much more banal.
In Rokugan the reasons are also less religious (because early on they were wary but less hateful towards gaijin) and more political (the Battle of the White Stag was a mess) with religion re-affirming the political status.
Ninja Scroll as told through L5R by WulinSage
Count Me In
Well, if you're talking about gaijin, there's also the whole "They literally aren't human (And only barely qualify as "people" if they try really hard) because they are entirely outside of the celestial wheel." perception. Even Eta, people who shovel shit, corpses, and other spiritually unclean things are part of the cycle of reincarnation. Gaijin are less than animals even, since animals at least have Chikushudo.
That's an interesting thing, because remember; the Kami had all been dead (save Shinjo and sorta Togashi) for almost 500 years by the time gaijin were even relevant to Rokugan, so nothing they said ever really was about gaijin. Everything that WAS said about them was made up by humans, who are delightfully fallible in Rokugan.
And then there's Legend of the Burning Sands kind of demonstrating that the Rokugani don't know quite as much about the universe as they think they do, and a lot if it is a lot more relevant to Rokugan then they'd like to admit.
Only if the person with a higher status also claims to be a witness. And if they aren't significantly higher status, they leave themselves open for a duel to prove that they're mistaken and actually saw some other murder that was so similar that they could potentially be mistaken about it.
Samurai "never" lie about stuff like that, which is why their witness testimony is taken as fact. Sometimes they're mistaken, but higher status samurai are mistaken less than lower status ones. However, the winner of a legal duel over it is the least mistaken of them all.
Sure, but that's "Clan champion vs minor clan ji-samurai" level differences. Being able to tell you that you are objectively wrong about what you saw without also claiming to have seen it is basically reserved for your boss's boss's boss or the Emperor (Often the same guy). And the Emperor isn't going to weigh in on something like that because overusing their infallibility is not something they do lightly.
Depends on whether there's anyone higher status to contradict them. Clan Champions just happen to take the top of the cake in that.
Otherwise? Diplomats to average clan samurai. Low rank imperials to diplomats.Magistrates to low rank imperials. Et cetera.
>The other clans often muse that the Lion always offer the greatest opposition to each technological advancement from which they benefit. Indeed, the Lion have become the most powerful army in the Empire, yet they do not look to the future with any optimism. It is as if they can see something on the horizon the other clans cannot.
Idk, it's a little vague and foreboding for more story options for the GM. It sort of discredits the ancestors are mad thing a little bit
>The Kitsu daimyo believes it is a sign the Heavens themselves disapprove of the direction the Empire has taken, but has little proof to back his claims
Whether that means none of the ancestors said why they aren't coming back, or that Rokugan law doesn't consider spirit testimony as evidence, i don't know. Another point made vague for the benefit of the GM
One funny thing I've noticed is that a lot of the elements that make a good Jidaigeki story actually DON'T exist in Rokugan in any form.
Not to say Rokugan isn't a cool setting, but let's face it; it's set up for a CCG that by necessity involved faction solidarity (can't have Crane cards suddenly randomly become Lion cards in-game and so on) and random conflicts happening for very little reason to explain why big armies are always clashing and has lots of political positions in setting that look a lot less like politics and functioning and more like CGG tournament awards.
The purpose of me moving the timeline some 300 years into the future for this quest revolves around updating the details of the setting while keeping the broad strokes to allow this traditional samurai story elements to actually exist.
Alas, the timezone difference is the most potent killer of many a game played online.
By the way Sage, what's the game about whose wiki you referred to in >>44723871? Is it an open sort of online game?
I genuinely have no idea, ha.
I found it while looking for good online resources for L5R for new players to read that give a brief overview of the setting some time ago.
I actually use the alternate wealth system it presents on my house games because coinage in L5R is completely fucked and is non-functional in actual play, and contrary to AEG's statements samurai DID need to buy shit and a lack of getting paid was by far one of the single largest contributions to the slow decay of the Buge class in Japan.
Speaking as somebody who knows people in that game, it's an living community game. They're still taking players, though I think what they're looking for mainly are Crab and Scorpion. Maybe Phoenix as well.
I think they're wrapping up the game soon though and starting a new game in a few months though.
Crab are not good at intrigue, however. Seems there's a lot of role playing and intrigue stuff going on there.
I'm probably the one of the only two people in my group who ever plays Scorpion successfully.
The other guy who tried it overdid it and kind of failed at plotting stuff (he's a great guy but hugely lacking in imagination), and the other person did it much better then me because, in her own words, "you're just too nice to be a cruel and vindictive person".
>Crab are not good at intrigue, however.
That's what makes them fun. You can fuck up the rest of the party's schemes almost as bad as a Lion, and do it accidentally instead of intentionally due to being honor bound.
The timeline diverges after the Hidden Emperor arc; they never even existed in this timeline because everything changed before they even got invented.
The short version of the original change is that Toturi never died and Tsudao succeeded him; each of the Four Winds found a place in the government. Kaneka was legitimized and granted his own Imperial family name, with the Kaneka family line becoming the Shoguns by hereditary inheritance.
Daigotsu was defeated and killed by a much stronger Empire that was much more stable.
The other key defining event was the Yotodai Invasion; around 1380, the Yotodai Empirr finally arrived in Rokugan bent on conquest.
They were tremendously successful; their reliance on formation fighting (rather then all formations devolving into little skirmishes because Muh Honor like the books repeatedly say happens) they DEVESTATED Rokugani troops, and their natural resistance or outright immunity to magic meant that their shugenja were much less effective.
Eventually while struggling to find anything that could stop them they began to seek allies outside Rokugan and use gaijin weapons such as muskets since nothing else worked.
Sorry, forgot my trip.
Anyway; eventually the combined forces of Rokugan, now using massed teppo (Rokugani-made muskets) with external pressures from the Ivory Kingdoms and Medinaat al-Salaam forced the Yotodai to finally retreat.
The blatant reliance upon foreign aid (and even foreign weapons and tactics) in Rokugan massively changed the national perception of things, and the Emperor (under the Shogun's advisement) opened up limited trade with the gaijin nations which has overall been an astounding success; Rokugan is now wealthier and has more samurai then it has ever had in it's collective history.
That brings me to the third major change; the Shadowlands as a literally "endless threat" are gone.
The Crab adopted firearms faster (they didn't give a shit about honor) then everyone else, and the Kaiu turned out to be REALLY GOOD at using them. The Wall is now equipped with massive siege cannons that obliterate all but the most powerful demons in minutes, leaving the Kaiu Wall relatively safe.
Finally, with the added power of gunpowder weapons and modern tactics, the Crab and Imperial Legions fought a deadly (and costly) battle with the aid of the fifth Shogun and the Jade Champion to the Festering Pit of Fu Leng, enacting a powerful ritual (which ended the Jade Champion's life; he's the Fortune of Heroic Sacrifice now by Imperial decree) but FINALLY closed the Festering Pit, meaning no more demons could escape Jigoku into Ningen-do.
The Shadowlands are still Tainted (there's no way to really remove it after all), but with the most dangerous threat of them removed now they're simply a dangerous and deserted region of the Empire filled with monsters then w knockoff vaguely Asian version of 40k's Chaos.
The Crab sort of are undergoing a spiritual crisis; with the Shadowlands minimized as a threat, what do they DO now?
The Yasuki so far are great at manipulating trade in this new Rokugan where the economy actually matters, but the other families were sort of "so what now?"
The answer of course is obvious; while watching what's left of the Shadowlands, they simply do what the other Great Clans with big armies (the Unicorn and Lion) do and flex their political muscles with it, much as they did in the era leading up to the Clan War.
Meanwhile the Shogun is basically trying to stop all the Great Clans from going to war over stupid slights; he believes the Yotodai are still a threat (and they certainly are, having effectively conqoured most of the world at this point) and that the Great Clans can't afford to waste their strength fighting each other while an enemy that theoretically potentially numbers in the millions could return at any time and start doing even worse damage then before.
Speaking of shugenja exactly how much magical anime nonsense will we be getting this quest?
I'm expecting something along the lines of Wulin Hero Quest mostly down to earth but with scattered superhuman martial arts
Pic Related its Kanpeki slicing through steel rods
Well, the Kuni can still witchhunt and administer Jade Petal Tea (Although the numbers must have come way, way down since it's so much harder for things to come through from Jigoku), the Hiruma can still patrol the shadowlands (Just in case), and the Kaiu can still maintain all the everything. That really only leaves the Hida with absolutely nothing useful to do.
Relatively little; the physical capabilities of people will basically be limited to mildly fantastic (impressive feats of strength and endurance and speed), but not wholly unbelievable; as in Rokugan, magic is limited to supernatural beings and people who can use magic.
No shounen techniques that let you draw a sword faster then the speed of sound here; those are very rarely found in this genre anyway.
Think more Blade of the Immortal then Rurouni Kenshin.
Mostly the same thing as all the other Minor Clans; trying to get by with what they have while having an easier time of because of the relationship their ancestor had with the Imperial Family.
They have an unusually strong presence in the Emerald Magistrates and Imperial Legions as well for a Minor Clan due to their relative "neutrality".
One of the reasons I picked the Monkey was their relationship resembling that of the Yagyu Clan with the Tokugawa Shoguns; they had a relatively small feudal domain (around 10,000 koku, which was as small as you could get and still be a daimyo almost), but because their family was in-close with the Tokugawa Shoguns they had a bit more influence then their size warranted; the Yagyu Shinkage-ryu School personally instructed the entire Shogunate force in swordplay and combat tactics, including the Shoguns themselves.
There's also rumors that the Yagyu School churned out shinobi for the Shogun's Onmitsu, but that's impossible to actually prove.
Most of them, yes.
Monkey Clan's "schtick" if it can be said to have one, is sheer perseverance; they are able to push past incredible injuries through force if will, fight best when faced with long odds and impossible situations; they're like "Yamato-damashii: The Clan".
A recurring saying in the setting is that "Gods have power, but Fortunes favors the Mortal Man".
As a clan founded from an uneducated peasant who picked up a sword and became a heroic samurai and eventually an excellent swordsman and second-in-command to the man who would be Emperor, the Toku family are VERY mortal men and have no benefit of semi-divine ancestry some of the other Great Clan families do.
The Toku are pretty cool, yes.
One of the reasons I picked them was their specific lack of a focus; other Clans or families are so over-focused on their particular gimmick that in essence the options in combat scenes would be rather limited.
The Toku don't fight special or fight specific; they just fight HARDER.
Their relationship to the Scorpion is amusing and has a lot of potential. As soon as they become a real clan, of course they don't into politics, so they stumble into an alliance with the first clan that asks, semi-oblivious to their reputation. So half the time they're being ruthlessly exploited by the Scorpion but half the time they're being taken care of like a morality pet.
The weird relationship between the Toku and Scorpion one of the reasons why I created the characters if Shosuro Shinzo (who in the Scorpion lands is called the "Adder of Chuuou") and his sister Shosuro Ryoko; both of them are relatively decent people who are also political realists and are completely without any respect for Bushido, and both have done some bad stuff now and then for the Clan because it was demanded of them by Duty (though honestly the things the average Scorpion does, while dishonorable and manipulative, are rarely as cruel as one might imagine; cruelty isn't very useful politically by itself), but both are quite good friends with Jubei who is a very honorable man.
If a bit of an unorthodox one.
Oh jeez. WulinSage, is our brother literally missing an eye now??
>Whether that means none of the ancestors said why they aren't coming back, or that Rokugan law doesn't consider spirit testimony as evidence, i don't know.
This is second-hand from something somebody else said, but: Apparently the Scorpion managed to get spirit testimony thrown out for trials.
They did it be assassinating a general, then during the trial allowing a Shugenja call up a spirit to give testimony to how the Scorpion killed the guy. (Possibly summoning a spirit of an item that was at the scene?)
Then they "smiled, agreed... and brought out the General. Who they had KIDNAPPED, not ASSASSINATED."
So, the lesson there is: Spirits do not think like humans, do not perceive the world like humans, and should not be considered infallible or super reliable for everything.
>It'll have to tell the story of Hida Crushinator some time.
Hida... Crushinator? That name. That name is hilarious. Just... that friggin name, man.
Oh, and two amusing facts; the rumor that Jubei lost his eye (as started by Shinzo) is based off of his historical counterpart, Yagyu Jubei.
In pop culture Yagyu Jubei is usually portrayed as having lost his right eye, but every contemporary record right up until his death makes no mention of it and there's no real evidence that he did.
Thus Toku Jubei has one eye...except not really and it was a lie started by his brother-in-law.
The second thing is a language thing; Ryoko is a relatively common girl's name in Japanese and has lots of different meanings based on how you spell it, most of them pretty feminine.
Ryoko deliberately spells her name with unusual kanji that mean "Demon Girl", which tells you a little bit about her personality.
His name was Hida Daigoji (a name which basically suggests hugeness and masculinity in Japanese), actually.
We called him Hida Crushinator because he had Brash and extremely poor impulse control and when he became frustrated or upset or confused he always ended up killing dudes with his tetsubo.
The joke was every social interaction we brought him into inevitably ended with "I draw my tetsubo and crush him".
Hence the name.
He's not even married yet actually.
Jubei is 23, which actually is fairly old for an unmarried samurai traditionally but the Monkey are a bit unorthodox about marriage since most are often away on extended Imperial duties.
The Shosuro married into the Toku family ages ago (Toku himself was married to their daimyo at the time's daughter), and on occasion they marry into the head family again to keep ties strong and also admittedly to have a legal excuse to take the Monkey lands should anything happen to the family.
Jubei has known Shinzo and Ryoko since he was ten as his marriage was negotiated fairly early on for a Monkey bushi since he was the Daimyo's son.
They're just highly practical (meaning ruthless), deceitful, and with a reputation for vindictiveness and dishonorable politics.
Unofficially and as an open secret, the maintain the largest spy network and organization of shinobi of any of the Clans. The Shosuro Family are where the bulk of their shinobi come from.
>Make sure the in-laws like you. Especially the ones who are giving the orders.
The only difference, that should they decide it's in their best interests to betray you, is that they won't take pleasure in it if they like you. Interclan relations are dangerous precisely because political circumstance can make enemies out of friends.
Ironically, the Monkey Clan are basically the opposite of that; they take Bushido very seriously and are very idealistic, and unlike some other groups that take Bushido seriously they take the whole noblesse oblige aspects of it equally seriously because once upon a time their founder WAS a peasant.
They're one of the most unambiguously heroic Clans in the setting, which itself is filled with a great degree of moral ambiguity.
Fortunately I'm pretty sure they like us, I doubt that Shinzo is the only scorpion who finds our honesty refreshing, even if they might giggle a bit about the stuff we don't notice.
And neither the Toku or Scorpions seem like the sort to fuck the other over if things have been working this long. They both take loyalty seriously.
Oh, and before I forget; they're also fairly religious, mostly because after his death Toku was named the Fortune of Virtue by the Emperor and thus attained godhood.
Toku basically earned his way from peasant, to samurai, to war hero, to clan leader and captain of the Imperial Legions to being a DEITY, and this is why the Monkey Clan take a somewhat liberal view of the Celestial Order and one's place in it; their entire family is living proof that NOTHING is set in stone, that ANYONE can be a hero, and finally that NOTHING is impossible for the man who dares and acts without fear.
>Ryoko deliberately spells her name with unusual kanji that mean "Demon Girl", which tells you a little bit about her personality.
Oh I like her.
I like her quite a bit.
I assume the name is also descriptive "in the futon" as it were?
Not that surprising; it's common in warrior cultures.
On a cynical note, sophisticated warrior codes tend to be codified and written down AFTER the warrior culture has begun circling the drain as a way to make themselves feel important as they slowly slide into social irrelevance.
Bushido for example is a really new concept; it doesn't appear by name until the late 18th century in Japan (vague and undefined warrior codes are mentioned before that), and by that period of time the samurai had ceased being partially socially relevant for almost 150 years; there were no wars to fight in anymore and they represented a huge drain on the economy that profited Japan nothing and in many, many, MANY documented cases acted extremely cruel as a result of their increasingly obvious irrelevance.
The next war the samurai would fight would result in their extinction as a culture and Japan actually was genuinely improved for it in many ways.
It's a shame, but I can see how it happens; when a social class is relevant, it doesn't need to prove it's relevance because it's relevance is immediately apparent to anyone paying attention.
When a social class becomes less important, they need to find reasons to justify their own existence.
You can see a gradual change of similar sort with the British military, as knighthood becomes chivalry becomes "gentlemanly conduct" becomes "the superiority of the noble fighting man" becomes "everyone dies exactly same".
It just hit the samurai a LOT harder because the national seclusion policies the Shogunate kept up meant that they had to have all this change shoved into them all at once.
Nice quest, I love the L5R setting and this will tide me over until my group's next game.
Also, I really like the way you've updated your setting. Not the hugest fan of the Monkey Clan, but that has less to do with their fluff and more to do with playing in a setting with a guy who only ever made one character - a Toku bushi, renamed for the current game.
Looking forward to seeing how the Mantis evolved and how you run them.
Amusingly, the Mantis have actually changed the least; they ALREADY were all about foreign trade (albeit semi-illegally and in secret) and money-making, so they've adapted quite nicely to the era.
So she's gonna get
23 years worth of glopping soundon the wedding night?
Fun, fun, fun.
On a more serious note, a Scorpion wife will actually be very good for us (especially if she genuinely loves our stupid ass in addition to the duty and loyalty things), because she'll be MUCH better at political playmaking than we are with our honesty, potentially keeping our ass out of the fire.
One of the reasons I added her as a character was that it occurred to me that even a famous Toku samurai with familial connections at court wouldn't be very good at courtier stuff.
The Toku don't even HAVE a courtier school.
"Glopping sounds" is perhaps the most odd euphemism for sex I've ever heard.
Every time I hear about that series I get more and more happy that I never bothered to watch it.
Good animation aside, literally every character seemed like an incredible cookie-cutter caricature that I've seen in a half a hundred thousands anime and manga that's come out since the 00's hit.
Japan's creative stagnation is depressing, even if it's primary source is simply being unable to financially take risks and focusing on what works and ONLY what works.
You should read the LNs if the premise intrests you. The most recent arc is suprisingly good. Modern LNs are the equvalent of YA novels in the west. It's popcorn shit that is popular with high schoolers
I'm good, thanks.
It's pretty easy to make a good premise; it's a lot harder to do it right and even harder to actually populate it with characters actually worth caring about.
My primary problem with most modern anime and manga (less so with manga) is that as fascinating as many concepts in them often are, I genuinely couldn't give a toss about anyone actually IN the story itself.
Oh wait! That show about the shiny yellow supersonic murder octopus that teaches elementary school; that show was actually pretty good.
I think Japan might be at it's best when it doesn't even bother to filter it's weirdness.
I wanted to hate that Log Horizon show too, but after all the problems of the series end up being solved through economics and making reliable governments and sound long-term planning instead of FRIENDSHIP and YAMATO-DAMASHII and GIFTED SWORDSMANSHIP or IMAGINATIVE USE OF SUPPOSEDLY USELESS POWER, I actually ended up grudgingly impressed and interested in more.
I can only assume that the manga spin-off with the bishounen harem-getting LN protagonist is a deliberate parody of such characters because every single character in the series seems AWARE that he's a stereotypical LN protagonist.
To be honest you are better off not giving much thought to a lot of Japanese popular media (LNs, manga, anime, ect...) mostly because the barrier for entry is so low (even lower than the West). I watch a bunch of anime and I don't even pay attention to how bad/medicore it is. It's not meant to be taken serious and the more you think about the worse it is.
I actually like the SAO LNs because of how willpower and worldbuilding is handled. But then again I liked Rakudai and Mahouka so I'm not one to talk. But honestly SAO isn't as bad as the community makes it out to be as long as you have the mind for it.