World of Rokguan

User avatar
Ace
LARP Org Admin
LARP Org Admin
Posts: 324
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:34 pm

World of Rokguan

Postby Ace » Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:48 am

This thread is not about the rules, per se, but about the realm of Rokugan, and information players may need to or like to know about the world.
Players are encouraged to find more information in any of the L5R roleplaying books (any edition) and novels, which contain fantastic detail on the realm of Rokugan. L5R has 15 years of rich story development to draw on, and we can only scratch the surface here.

However, our LARP game will by necessity have many variations from the published material on Rokugan, especially regarding history and 'current affairs'.
If you notice a discrepency between previously published materials and our discussions here, please check with the orgs. It might be an oversight, in which case we welcome corrections, but it may also be deliberate. Either way, please feel free to discuss with us.

In these posts we will be discussing the culture, social structure, history, geography, mythology and other areas of interest.
Eventually these posts will be made available in a book or website form. Consider this an early taste.

If you would like to pariticipate in discussion of any details posted in this thread, please do so in a separate thread.

User avatar
Ace
LARP Org Admin
LARP Org Admin
Posts: 324
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:34 pm

Re: World of Rokguan

Postby Ace » Fri Dec 02, 2011 2:05 am

Due to request, our first post will relate to the role of women in Rokugan. This post will refer to some topics that will be covered at a later time (titles, social structure, mythology, history). If you do not understand a concept or term that is referred to, please ask an org or experienced L5R player for clarification.

Men and Women in Rokugan
Adapted from Legend of the Five Rings RPG, 4th Edition
"All members of the samurai caste, both men and women, are expected to serve their clans with equal dedication and honour. Rokugan makes few distinctions in the duties and deference afforded to men and women, for all alike are samurai and are entitled to the respect which their position deserves. Some social distinctions are made, however, based in part on the simple reality that it is women who must bear children. It is also more common for a woman to marry into another family or clan than the reverse."

Despite the apparent equality between the male and female samurai of Rokugan, there remains a tendency toward patriarchy among all the castes of Rokugani society. For example, there has been only one female Emperor in history, and thirty-seven male Emperors. Similarly, the vast majority of Clan and Family leaders have been male. However, strong female leaders do appear from time to time, and when they earn the respect of their peers in Rokugan they are celebrated just as much as their male counterparts. Rokugani legend and history is replete with tales of feminine heroes, from Lady Doji and Lady Shinjo (the Kami (gods) who founded their own families), to the Thunders (heroes) Shosuro, Utaku and Matsu, or the tragic and romantic figures of ronin warrior women in poetry and popular plays.

Traditions among the Clans
Each Family and Clan has subtle differences in attitude toward its female samurai, and the roles they are expected to fulfill. These will be described in a following post, as it will be a long section and not necessarily of interest to everyone.
In brief, the only character-playable family with a formal matriarchal structure is the Lion family Matsu. The only other family in the current Empire that are strictly matriarchal are the Moshi, a minor clan family. Most other families are more relaxed about inheritance and gender roles. Crab and Lion families tend toward patriarchal inheritance and are stronger on gender roles, but this is a tradition and not a rule.

Warrior women
It is true that there are less, in fact far less, female warriors than male warriors in Rokugan. However, those who train and comport themselves as warriors first and foremost are treated first as warriors and second as women. Thus if a woman takes on the arms and armour of a bushi (warrior), she is expected to act with all the honour and strength of her warrior brothers. No quarter is given, or expected, to a female bushi. In fact, the female bushi often works even harder than her male counterparts for recognition.

A female bushi is often called a samurai-ko. Usually, she dresses and acts like her brother samurai. Sometimes a samurai-ko will make a distinction between her roles as a warrior and as a lady – for example by dressing and speaking differently while off-duty than when on duty. In these circumstances it is appropriate to treat the samurai-ko based on how she appears and acts – if she speaks as a warrior then she should be challenged as a warrior. If she looks and acts like a lady she should be treated as such. It is possible to be both a lady and a deadly warrior, without changing appearance – for example a soft-spoken Kakita lady may also be a master of the dueling arts. Similarly, it is entirely possible for a samurai-ko to be just as much a brute or a braggart as any male bushi – whether in or out of armour.
Of course, a male bushi may make the same distinctions, and choose to comport himself differently when on duty and off duty.

Other roles
Priests (shugenja), courtiers and other roles among samurai are more equally represented between the genders. The talents of the shugenja never distinguish between male and female. One is born with the ability to commune with the kami. Such a gift is never wasted on minor distinctions like gender. Similarly, the courts are full of men and women from all Clans – though not necessarily all families. See the later post on specific family traditions for more information. Suffice it to say that player characters may choose to play shugenja or courtiers of either gender from any Clan and any family without fear of reproach.

Among the lower castes of Rokugan, there is a tendency toward patriarchy (but it is not a firm rule). Males tend to inherit, and men and women fulfill more expected gender roles. However, there are women who can and do operate even in the most male-dominated industries. Religion makes no distinction between genders – there are monks and nuns catering to the religious needs of Rokugan equally.

User avatar
Ace
LARP Org Admin
LARP Org Admin
Posts: 324
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:34 pm

Re: World of Rokguan

Postby Ace » Fri Dec 02, 2011 2:07 am

Clothing and appearance - male vs female
Males and females of the samurai caste do have traditional differences in their clothing and appearance. Just as for the any other parts of their lives, these are traditions and not rules that must be followed.

Women’s kimono usually differ from men’s in several ways. Typically, a woman’s obi will be significantly wider than a man’s, and tied in an elaborate bow. Her kimono sleeves are often round, compared to a man’s more squared sleeves. An unmarried woman will wear kimono with very long flowing sleeves, often reaching the knees or even dragging on the floor, whereas a married woman’s sleeves are shorter (but are still considerably longer than a man’s). Both men’s and women’s kimono can be equally as decorative. Floral or fauna related decorations are not limited to either sex, nor are particular colours. A female warrior is likely to dress like her brothers when appearing as a warrior. However, it is less common for a female warrior to dress in an actual men’s kimono when appearing in formal dress. She is more likely to dress in the warrior’s clothing – hakama and gi and haori (pants and top and coat) then in a men’s cut kimono.

The traditional hairstyle for a male samurai is a shaved pate and a topknot, doubled forward over the crown. Female samurai traditionally wear their hair long, never cutting it, and if they are unmarried, they tie it back in a so-called “maiden’s foxtail,” a ponytail or braid high on the skull. Traditionally, a woman never cuts her hair unless she is widowed or otherwise in mourning; however in reality women often choose to wear their hair short for many reasons. Some samurai-ko choose to wear their hair in a top-knot like their brothers, or even to shave their heads entirely, representing a devotion to duty.

User avatar
Ace
LARP Org Admin
LARP Org Admin
Posts: 324
Joined: Thu Nov 12, 2009 10:34 pm

Re: World of Rokguan

Postby Ace » Fri Dec 02, 2011 2:08 am

Relationships and Romance

Samurai of Rokugan are nobles, and are therefore supposed to be held to a certain standard. Thus, an unmarried person, of either gender, is expected to remain celibate until marriage, and subsequently remain faithful to their spouse. Both males and females may choose to make a vow of chastity upon taking up their duties as samurai. This tradition is upheld by some, ignored by others, as may be expected. The expectations and consequences of scandal, adultery, etc., vary between Clan, family and even social position. It may have a significant impact on the individual’s prospects for marriage. Naturally, the more important a samurai, the more important their indiscretions become. And despite the equality of gender in Rokugan, it remains true that the expectations of celibacy, etc., falls somewhat harder on females then males. A male is more often forgiven for an indiscretion then his female counterpart.

Gender separation is traditionally practiced at all levels, to help reduce the chances of such indiscretions occurring. Unmarried males and females are separated in living quarters, bathing areas, etc. Most houses, castles, dojo’s, etc. will provide separate sleeping quarters for male and female samurai as a matter of course. It is expected – not necessarily practiced, however - that men and women do not spend time alone together. Modesty is expected to be maintained, by both genders, at all times. Some ladies choose to keep (or are burdened with) a servant who follows the lady as an ‘honour-retainer’, ensuring she is never alone with a man.

Of course, none of this means that the samurai’s life is without romance. The Rokugani are very conflicted over the issue of love. It is a temptation to dishonourable behaviour, but also a glorious experience to be boasted of in poetry. Love is a distraction from duty and loyalty, yet Benten, the Fortune of Romantic Love, is not only one of the Seven Major fortunes but frequently speaks for them when they appear to mortals. With this in mind the game of love and affairs is a dangerous but glorious affair. Love in Rokugan offers many opportunities - the chance to gain an important ally, the opportunity for glory or for much-needed intimacy and emotional support. But not all affairs are harmonious. Indeed an unwanted pregnancy or an unwanted advance taken too far can result in seppuku for at least one of the samurai. Legendary romances between samurai are the stuff of pillow books and plays.

Samurai are human, and relationships are formed at all levels – both well-known and clandestine. Whether at court or among the warriors (or elsewhere), there can always be found gossip about the latest romances. Some samurai leaders may find relationships among their serving samurai acceptable, and look the other way to allow for a better morale among their people. Others may be quite strict and punish social infringements severely. A romance between two eligible samurai might be seen as quite acceptable, even laudable, by their peers. Sometimes an openly known or even declared relationship might be tolerated because there is the expectation the two samurai will eventually be married. Alternately, a relationship might flourish where there is clearly no hope of a marriage – such as between a higher ranking and lower ranking samurai. In this case, especially if the high ranking samurai has political clout, the romance might be tolerated as ‘a fling’ or just an amusement. There are stories, plays and poetry about great romances between samurai – but they more often than not end in tragedy.

Relationships between samurai and non-samurai can be considered a sub-set of romance discussed above. Samurai, particularly wealthy or powerful men, sometimes form relationships with entertainers (geisha) or servants – or even employ concubines. These relationships are usually considered acceptable if for some reason the man does not currently have a wife (e.g. is a widower, not yet married, etc.). It is rarer for a powerful female to maintain a relationship with a non-samurai male, but the same is still possible. Since the servant or geisha is not a samurai, they are not the equal to the samurai and are seen more as entertainment than anything else. More moralistic or honourable samurai would still look down on such a relationship. However, even the Emperor himself may keep one or more concubines, and children born to concubines and similar have been known to inherit even the throne of Rokugan, if acknowledged by their fathers.

Sexuality in Rokugan is a taboo subject. It is simply never discussed. However, clandestine relationships between same-sex couples do occasionally occur. If these come to light, they are almost invariably considered scandalous. But such relationships might be tolerated indefinitely if the couple endeavors to remain discreet.

Marriage
When samurai marry, one member of the new family is expected to remain at home, managing the household, while the other continues to serve the clan. The spouse who remains “active” is assigned a stipend by the one who runs the house. It is more common for a samurai household to be managed by the wife, simply because she must already remain home to birth and care for the couple’s children. However, in some families with a more matriarchal tradition, the man is traditionally assigned to manage the household. Likewise, these matriarchal families are more likely to marry their men, rather than their women, into other families.

It should be noted that in Rokugan, “running a household” means significantly more than one might expect. The spouse assigned this duty handles all of the money and is in charge of the household in every respect, managing the family’s finances, hiring workers to repair and improve the house and grounds, seeing to it that any retainers receive their own stipends, and handling all of the entertainment for visitors. Although this involves a great deal of time dealing with money, it is not considered damaging to the reputation – to the contrary, a spouse who maintains a well-run and prosperous household is regarded with honor and respect.
Among high-ranking nobles, who have small armies of household servants, many of these traditions are ignored. It is not uncommon for both spouses in a noble family to continue with their samurai duties, leaving their household and children in the hands of trusted servants and underlings.


Return to “L5R Rules Discussion”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest