|Facts and Customs in an Oriental World|
|Kokuis gold coin with a hole in
it so it can be strung on a necklace. It's value changed from year to year
and is based on the value of 5 bushels of rice (enough to feed a man for
1 year), its value fluctuates from year to year. One koku weighs as much
as a standard coin, twice as much as a Lilis minted coin. Bu is effectively
a silver (worth 2 silver) and Zeni are copper coins (worth 2 copper).
Individual clans mint their own coins with distinct markings, but they are
usually universally accepted. In theory a coin may be redeemed for its value
in rice, but this is rarely done. A koku of rice weighs about 150 kilograms
(23.6 stone or 330 pounds). Koku was also used to measure how much a ship
could carry when all its loads were rice. Smaller ships carried 50 koku
(7.5 t) while the biggest ships carried over 1,000 koku (150 t). Those of
the samurai class have all their needs provided by their lord, rarely do
they need to stoop to hemin habit of exchanging coins for goods or services.
This is the providence of merchants and merchants are not as well respected
as farmers. Almost no one is crass enough to sell magic items, but some
merchants have illegal contacts with far off lands.
Shugenja Magic Actually there are no shugenja
spells, instead shugenja recite prayers to the Fortunes from their ofudas
(individually scribed tablets, similar to a wizard's spell book).
If the prayers are recited properly then the kamia and the elemental spirits
perform what is asked of them. They need to cast their spells directly
from the ofudas, like a mage reading a scroll, they do not memorize
their spells. They have a spell casting matrix like a sorcerer and are
limited to what spells they can cast per day by that matrix. Shugenja
are taught specific Schools of kami magic; spell that they can cast spontaneously,
like a cleric would cast their Domain spells. The shugenja uses their
own spiritual energy to both request and demand the service of the elements
themselves, telling the kami to perform the magic. Shugenja do not have
scrolls, nor can their ofudas be used like a scroll or a spellbook.
Read Magic is not needed to read an ofudas and only another
shugenaja could use the ofudas. It is possible for a Clan to capture
a shugenja and take away their ofudas or even copy them, but this
is dishonorable and so is not done. Shugenja are rare and universally
respected, they are the only members of the samurai class who can surrender
and maintain their honor. If that happens the shugenja's clan would ransom
the hostage shugenja back from the clan that took him captive. Shugenja
can take and use metamagic feats, they would have to create a new ofudas
for that spell using the metamagic feats that they have them before they
could cast them. All shugenaj speak the spirit tongue and so can ask the
kami directly to do things, usually minor magics. The kami will always
have a request or demand that must be performed before it does the service
and talking with a kami can be time consuming, they are often insular
and care little about the world around them, many are vain. Typical demands
could be a sacrifice or offering made to the kami or for some deed to
Sorcerers are more common among the Nezumi than among the Rokugani.
They are mysterious arcane spellcasters who always face the temptation
of maho, blood magic. That road leads to corruption through the
Taint and an eventual loss of the character to the forces of Taint.
|Ritual Magic is a method of casting
used by several Shugenja to improve a spell; any more requires advanced
|The Emerald Empire is extremely xenophobic. Throughout
most of Rokugan's history it was quiet unusual to encounter sentient, non-human
creatures. Following the Clan War, the Rokugani people became somewhat more
accustomed to non-humans due to their peaceful interaction with the Naga
and the Nezumi races. The Unicorn have regular relations with the Ivory
Empire, but this is kept secret, because officially it is not allowed. Unfortunately,
the recent predations of the mysterious Tsuno coupled with the Naga's return
to slumber may undo all progress that has been made. The Lion have enslaved
a race of humanoids called the Zokujin. The zokujin are treated humanly,
but are not even considered to be sentient. Gaijin (alien) are only accepted
by the Unicorn Clan and a few of the Mantis. Most humanoids could pass themselves
off as funny looking humans (dwarves, elves, gnomes, half-elves, half-orcs,
haflings, orcs). Members of a monster race, especially goblins, hobgoblins,
bugbears, and ogres could be considered to be oni. Oni are not talked to,
negotiated with or appeased, they are simply killed. Oni are dangerous and
even combat with one carries the risk of getting Taint. Contact with outsiders
is illegal. The gaijin betrayed the empire early in its history and this
has not been forgotten. Gaijin also tried to bring gunpowder to the empire.
This alarmed the Emperor and he ordered that, except for fireworks, the
use of gunpowder is illegal.
Emperor has direct absolute rule, but he can't handle it all so he has to
delegate. His chief delegate is the Emerald Champion; the chief enforcer
and personal bodyguard of the Emperor, his palace is located outside of
Otasan Uchi the central HQ for the Emerald Champions. There are thousands
of Emerald Magistrates who roam the empire helping the Emerald Champion
do his job; those appointed to this job are expected to act with the justice
of the Empire in mind, and nothing else. They must put aside matters of
Clan and family, politics or loyalty to this service. Clever magistrates
do use their position for power. The clans also have their own magistrates
chosen by the daimyo across the provinces. They carry out the Emperor's
will, but only within the boundaries of their province; they are considered
the hands of their lord and can act in his name. However, rarely do they
have to work against their family's interests. The government is an example
of the Celestial Order in
action. The religion of the Fortunes
decrees the Imperial Family will be in charge and sets the rank of the people.
When people die they pass on to Meido,
the Realm of the Dead and then are reincarnated to continue their individual
journey on the Karmic Wheel. When a person fulfills their destiny they pass
to Yomi, the land of the Blessed
The Jade Champion is the authority on what is and what is not maho (forbidden blood magic). The Jade Champion's inquisitors work as magistrates do for the Emerald Champion.
Family daimyo report to their province daimyo, who report to the Clan
daimyo, who in turn report to the Emperor. The family daimyo is responsible
for the courters, lords, shugenja, and samurai under his command and reports
to the Clan Champion. The Champion only answers to 3 individuals--the
Emperor, the Emerald Champion, and the Jade Champion.
|Crime and Punishment: Like everything else is highly ritualized often the outcome is already known before the trial.|
| - Honorless assassination is a crime punishable by execution,
those honorably killed can have their family call for a blood feud and little
else. Almost any time someone is killed, the deceased's family may claim
the right of vengeance or demand reparations.
- In most manners the law is severe and inflexible, theft and forgery are punished by execution.
- Treason against the Emperor is the worse crime of all and the offending party can expect to be executed dishonorably, along with his wife and children. Their house is razed and their names are expunged from the Imperial history and the Emperor commands that their name will never be spoken again.
- Crimes committed by children have the consequences fall upon their father.
- A villager who commits a crime brings the repercussions down upon the village headman instead of himself.
- Kidnapping is the illegal theft of a living person. Hostages are taken legally with prior notification to their family. Hostages can also be used to cement an alliance, typically the 2nd sons of the allying daimyo. Occasionally these hostages are required to swear fealty to their captors, and learn the school techniques of their new clan.
|Testimony is gathered before
the judgment, evidence has little place in the courts. Only the Kitsuki
family of the Dragon clan hold to weighing evidence first, it is openly
mocked, but is slowly gaining acceptance. Confessions from a criminal is
testimony against himself, often extracted though torture. Testifying falsely
is a crime punishable by death. Execution is viewed as honorless and in
many cases dishonorable. Many samurai who are supposed to die claim the
honor of seppuku with their own wakizashi (when a noble lady kills themselves
it is called Jigai). It is considered the honorable and correct way to atone
for one's crimes before departing to the land of the dead. If their daiymo
doesn't feel they deserve this honor they give the samurai a wooden wakizashi--an
indication the daimyo believes the samurai is too cowardly to perform true
Testimony is the ultimate standard, those who can be trusted to speak
the truth can sway judgments with a word. Because shugenja are holy men
their testimony can carry more weight than that of a samurai. Magic may
be used to hunt down the criminal and bring them to justice, but not in
court. Torture however is considered an indirect method of magic and can
be used in court. Testimony gleaned by magic is considered useless, even
in the lands of the Phoenix. A minor Scorpion shugenja was accused of
murdering a powerful Lion general, the Kitsu summoned the murdered Lion's
spirit form the afterlife to give his testimony. The Scorpion was put
to death. It was revealed that the Lion was still alive, the Soshi had
held him hostage the whole time. The Scorpion accused the Lions of practicing
imperfect magic, while the Lion claimed the Scorpion had perverted the
Kitsu shugenaj somehow. Because of this case it is accepted that magic
is not foolproof and it is not used in court. Magic that reads men's souls
or tells lies from truth amounts to nothing in trial. Even the noble spirit
of the deceased ancestors can't be heeded as only a shugenja can bring
their words to the land of the living. This is important; it will be your
word against your accusers and your accusers will be considered to be
more reliable than gijian. In a case of a difference of opinion or fact,
using magic to determine this is illegal. No honorable person would give
false testimony so the testimony of a gijian would always be in doubt.
|The roads are well constructed
and shaded by trees. Along the roads are way stations staffed by younger
samurai, usually the apprentices of the Imperial Magistrates. These samurai
often serve as scouts in case of invasion and help defend against bandit
attacks. They are generally charged with assisting travelers and keeping
order in the general area and have 1-2 shugenja on hand to help. Imperial
Magistrates have permanent travel papers. Legionnaires with their unit do
not require traveling papers.
The roads are capable of moving large amounts of troops. In order to
travel one the Emperor's Roads, one must carry travel papers from the
daiymo who presides over the road. These papers are checked each time
a traveler passes a way station or crosses a border between clans. Emerald
magistrates and their Legionnaires may travel at will as duty commands,
they may also write temporary travel papers for anyone they deem worthy.
Traveling off road is risky, close to the Shadowlands you might run afoul
of beasts or monsters. Even those away from such areas may be subject
of bandits. Someone caught sneaking around the fields of the Crane without
papers will be dealt with much more severely than someone who attempts
to enter the Crane lands by road, but with no papers.
|Etiquette is all important,
the battle in the courts can be as brutal as that one the battlefield. Failure
to display proper etiquette to one's peers and superiors will result in
Bowing and Kneeling: it is customary to bow when greeting another samurai, it's a show of respect between 2 individuals. The lower the bow the greater the respect. Bushi and shugenja both bow to each other. Bowing only slightly is commonly interpreted as a thinly veiled insult.
Kneeling is done before a person of superior rank.
Terms of address can be means of showing respect or insult. Samurai of different clans are expected to address one another by the name of their clan, or family (if their clothing signifies which family they belong to).
When addressing another, it is traditional to add a suffix to their name in order to reflect the relationship between you. If one is speaking to a friend or someone of equal rank the suffix -san is added. Superiors always receive the -sama suffix, using -san would be dishonorable. A woman who is loved generally gets the -chan suffix, while the male gets the -kun suffix. This is common between relatives, spouses or close friends. The prefix O (great one) is added to another's name as a show of enormous respect and admiration to that individual.
Gifts: It is customary to offer a gift when
meeting a host or a superior for the first time, or to reward loyal service.
The more personal and sentimental the gift is, the more meaningful it
is, a pristine gift clearly purchased from the market could be a sign
of disfavor or indifference. It is bad form to purchase a gift. The gift
of a weapon or armor to another can actually be an insult, implying the
other needs protection or that their lord is unable to provide protection.
When accepting the gift its is customary to refuse the gift 2 times before
accepting allowing the person to demonstrate their sincerity.
The Kuni Witch Hunters were founded by the
Kuni family and have dedicated themselves to understanding the Shadowlands.
They roam the Empire hunting down Tainted opponents, testing for maho
magic and rule over the Crab Legion of the Damaned. Many are shugenja
tempered by the teachings of the Brotherhood of Shinsei, except oni for
their vow of pacifism.
The Brotherhood of Shinsei: Keepers
of Shinsei's Wisdom, their temples and shrines are found all over the
Empire and are open to all. Samurai who reach the age of 50 are expected
to retire and become inkyo monks shaving off their topknot and contemplating
the wisdom of Shinsei for the rest of their lives, this custom is becoming
unpopular. The Dragon and Phoenix have the best relations with the monks
and the Scorpion tend to scorn them. Currently they are trying to find
the missing half of the Tao, they have been active in society over the
last 30 years and some of the monks are returning to their families to
reenter life there. With the assassination of Toturi I many have sought
out their guidance and comfort.
|Musha Shugyo: the "warrior
pilgrimage" is an old tradition where the student leaves behind family
and clan wandering the Empire to perfect their art and skill. The daimyo
must authorize it and will not do so until after receiving testimony from
the student's sensei, clearly saying the pilgrimage will help him. The daiymo
may refuse the pilgrimage or even to hear from the sensei. A samurai on
Musha Shugyo appears as a ronin, wearing no sign of his family or Clan.
They may travel alone or in small groups.
|Bandits and Pirates:
Are unfortunately common in the Empire. Patrols of young samurai are common
on the roads and one of their mandates is to stop bandits, but yet the bandits
sill come as do infiltrating Shadowlands creatures. Some bandits are often
smugglers. At sea pirates are also fairly common, no one clan takes responsibility
for protecting the seas around Rokugan. The Mantis could do it, but they
are also sometimes pirates. Some ships are smugglers and occasional pirates.
|Ninja: Hantei I told
the first Scorpion "Watch." The Scorpion family took the duty
of watching the empire and informing the emperor. Many families developed
their own ninja as part of this watch force. But, by the 5th century the
dishonorable actions of the ninja became too much for the emperor to bear
and he ordered that all ninja commit seppuku. By that time the ninja had
become baby stealing, demon summoning masters of the night who knew no bounds;
creatures with no honor. The emperor saw his mistake and corrected it and
they have been illegal in the empire ever since.
|Officials of the Law: The village headman will be assisted by Peasant Enforcers, the headman himself is in charge of the village and will be held responsible for any crimes committed by someone in the village. Young samurai are often sent out on patrols for bandits and other dangers. Clan Magistrates are the most commonly encountered law officials. Magistrates oversee illegal travel, local crimes, patrols and property disputes they work in the name of their daiymo. Imperial Magistrates are similar only with jurisdiction that stretches across the empire. The Emerald magistrates are the supreme law enforcers of the land and typically answer only to the Emerald Champion and the Emperor. It is beneath their station to become involved in petty crimes and minor offenses. Emerald Magistrates are tax collectors, travel paper inspectors and protect traveling dignitaries. They have an enormous amount of power and the right to travel across the empire at will. They have the right to detain any individual of a lower rank, but need an Order of Appearance to detain those of higher station, they are considered to be direct representatives of the emperor. They handle crimes against the emperor, national crimes, fugitives, civil disorders organized blasphemy, and occasionally Shadowlands incursions. The Jade Champion and his deputies, the Kuni Witch Hunters, are responsible for preventing and investigating the practice of maho (blood) magic. They are also experts on the Shadowlands. The Legion of the Damned are lead by Kuni Witch Hunters. Jade Magistrates are either shugenja or individuals who are experts in the practice of maho. They are expected to work side-by-side with Imperial Magistrates, but take over in areas of their specialties. Imperial Legionnaires take over in cases of martial law. Under martial law Legion Commanders are given wide leeway.|
|Yojimbo: young samurai assigned
as bodyguards for important courtiers or shugenja, even prominent merchants.
|Seven Tenants of Bushido
meaning "Way of the Warrior-Knight", is a Japanese word which
is used to describe a uniquely Japanese code of conduct and a way of the
samurai life, loosely analogous to the concept of chivalry. It originates
from the samurai moral code and stresses frugality, loyalty, martial arts
mastery, and honor unto death. Born from Neo-Confucianism during times of
peace in Tokugawa Japan and following Confucian texts, Bushido was also
influenced by Shinto and Buddhism, allowing the violent existence of the
samurai to be tempered by wisdom and serenity. Bushido- developed between
the 9th and 12th centuries and numerous translated documents dating from
the 12th to 16th centuries demonstrate its wide influence across the whole
of Japan, although some scholars have noted "the term bushido- itself
is rarely attested in premodern literature." Under the Tokugawa Shogunate,
aspects of bushido- became formalized into Japanese Feudal Law. In Rokugan
Bushido is the law for the noble class. It is the code of moral principles
which the samurai were required or instructed to observe.
|Respect: Those who speak sincerely are believed over those who speak the truth poorly in court. A character's on (face or respectability) is a measure of how well-tended a character's reputation is, this is a little different than honor or concerns of glory. A worthless samurai who can speak well in court is given more respect than one who is a stuttering fool. The battlefield of the courts is where on tends to be the most important, as a man's reputation can kill another before the chance to engage in a formal duel, even appears. Those with an impressive on are rarely challenged, as doing so could make a samurai appear foolish. A samurai with a reputation as a highly skilled duelist can laugh off the challenges from those who are perceived as lesser opponents, even if his reputation is no way justified.|
Oriental Table of Contents
Oriental Table of Contents