L5R Ettiquette

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L5R Ettiquette

Postby Tree frog » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:16 am

Was wondering what the rules of etiquette are for meeting ones who are better than you..say a peasant meeting a samurai and so on up the ranks...
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Re: L5R Ettiquette

Postby Ace » Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:49 pm

Good question, Treefrog.

The quick answer - bow very low, or drop to knees if possible. Do not look in the samurai's face. Address the samurai as 'sama' or 'samurai-sama'.
(this also is appropriate for a samurai meeting someone way above their own station, such as a samurai meeting their Clan Champion)

Longer answer:
Peasant meets peasant - even peasants can be formal and have a heirachy. A peasant may defer to their headman, or a 'doshin' (a peasant police deputy) with a bow, just as samurai bow to each other. But otherwise the peasants interact mostly as equals. Suffixes and modes of address are usually used for the noble samurai class, not between peasants.
Peasant meets 'hinin' (half-person) - there are people lower than peasants in the pecking order. These include eta (untouchables), geisha, etc. These people would be greeted with a sneer, grimace (because of the smell) and unkind words.

Peasant meets samurai - it is safest for the peasant to treat the samurai with great deference and respect. The peasant always has on his mind that the samurai with the sword can and will kill him if the samurai even suspects disrespect.

Meeting an unknown samurai, a peasant should drop to their knees, or bow very low if kneeling is impractical. A peasant should not meet the eyes of a samurai under and circumstances, unless directed to do so. Further meetings may only require a deep bow, if the samurai is pleased with the deference the peasant shows. After all, it doesn't do to have your servant drop to the ground and spill your tea tray every time you walk past.

A peasant will address a samurai with terms of respect. This can be as simple as 'samurai-sama', 'lord', etc. or even just 'sama' Sama is a formal suffix for respect, and can be applied to any superior person. (the suffix -san is used for an equal, like another peasant) There are more complicated suffix and forms of address, but these would only be applied by a peasant who is familiar with the samurai they speak about, and can apply the correct terms. These include '-dono' for great warrior, and terms for Imperial positions, etc.

I'm going to stop now before I go into a dissertation on L5R ettiquette. The world is so richly developed, it would be easy to go on for pages.
The RPG books have much excellent material about these kinds of things. I will have some books available on the weekend event if anyone is interested.

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Re: L5R Ettiquette

Postby Tree frog » Wed Nov 21, 2012 3:53 am

Thank you yes I could please be able to borrow some books and such to help with my npcing at the game... :D
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Re: L5R Ettiquette

Postby Ace » Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:10 am

I will make some of the many books available on the weekend or prior for our NPCs.

Here is an excerpt from the current, 4th Edition RPG book (p. 26) on the social classes:

The Rokugani believe all living beings, indeed all of existence,
are organized into a hierarchy set in place by the will of the
Celestial Heavens. This hierarchy – known as the Celestial Order
– was revealed to the Rokugani by the Kami at the founding of
the Empire, and they regard it as the sacred and unquestioned
expression of divine will. To ignore or violate the Order is to
blaspheme against the cosmos itself. Thus, the citizens of the
Emerald Empire are organized into three distinct castes, each of
which is divided into several smaller ranks and sub-castes. Typically,
a person is born into a caste and remains within that caste
for their entire life, although exceptions are possible.
At the top of the social order are the samurai, the rulers of
Rokugan. They are the only “real people” of Rokugan, and have
complete power and rights over all below them. The samurai
caste itself is, of course, divided into social ranks of its own – the
Kuge (nobility) and the Buke (those who serve). The Kuge include
the Emperor, the various high Imperial officials and daimyo, the
Clan Champions who rule over the various clans of the Empire,
and the daimyo of the various families within each clan. All
other samurai belong to the Buke. Of course, there is considerable
social striation within the buke as well, ranging from the
top tier of provincial daimyo and city governors, down through
magistrates, advisors, military officers, and other officials, and
ending in the vast numbers of simple warriors, courtiers, and
priests who serve the Empire – the so-called “ji-samurai.” In general,
a samurai is not permitted to question or oppose someone of
a higher social rank without the strongest possible justification.
Conversely, a samurai can easily lord it over those of inferior
social rank, and it is expected that such abuse will be endured
honorably. Samurai are supposed to always treat each other with
extreme respect and politeness, even if they are actually bitter
enemies, for to fail in public manners is to violate Courtesy and
possibly even “lose one’s face,” an unforgivable social error.

Below the samurai are the Bonge – the common folk, also
known as heimin or “half-people.” These comprise the vast majority
of Rokugan’s population, and are the ones who keep the
nation and economy running. They are generally not permitted
to use weapons, although exceptions are made for specific duties
such as ashigaru (peasant military levies) or budoka (personal
armed retainers to samurai). Samurai can demand anything
from a heimin without recompense, and can kill any heimin who
disobeys or fails to show respect. However, the Celestial Order
also dictates that there are responsibilities between the different
castes of society, something emphasized in writings like the Articles
of Heaven. So while it is the heimin’s duty to produce and
obey, it is the samurai’s duty to protect and administer. Nevertheless,
the life of the bonge is a hard one, full of difficult labor and
suffering. Only a few commoners are fortunate enough to serve
a samurai who truly cares about them – for the most part, their
lords treat them with indifference, if not outright cruelty. Naturally,
heimin are always respectful and obedient toward samurai,
since the alternative is to earn their wrath, but they seldom feel
anything toward their masters other than fear and wary respect.
However, the rare samurai who goes out of his way to fulfill his
duties to the heimin caste will soon draw their notice, and such
exceptionally compassionate samurai are often rewarded in turn
by extra loyalty and effort.

Even within the ranks of the bonge, there are social striations.
The highest-ranking of the heimin are the peasants, for they
grow the food which all the Empire needs to survive. Slightly
below the peasants are the artisans and craftsmen – carpenters,
blacksmiths, stonemasons, brewers, seamstresses, and so forth.
Although they do not grow food, these persons still create things
of use and value, and truly skilled heimin artisans can actually
earn the respect of samurai who admire their work. (In fact,
some samurai are artisans themselves, although they pursue
rarified arts such as painting and sword-making rather than
simple things like building furniture or forging horseshoes.) At
the bottom of the bonge’s ranks are merchants. Merchants are
regarded with contempt by samurai, since they do not actually
make anything for themselves – they simply buy and sell things
made by others. However, commerce is important to the Empire’s
economic health, and many clans rely on commercial activity to
swell their coffers – a contradiction which troubles more than
one samurai. To get around this problem, some samurai appoint
themselves as “merchant patrons,” watching over and supervising
the activities of commoner merchants, thereby allowing
them to conduct commerce without directly dirtying their own
hands with such distasteful activities.

Monks occupy a peculiar position within the social order. They
are not samurai, and by strict interpretation of the Rokugani social
system they cannot be considered anything other than heimin.
However, their role as upholders of the Empire’s religious
traditions affords them a respect which other commoners do not
enjoy. Most samurai treat monks with a certain deference, and
prominent members of the Brotherhood of Shinsei are sometimes
invited to court to provide counsel and guidance to daimyo.

If the position of monks is peculiar, that of ronin – those
samurai who have no lord, no clan or family to call their own
– is far more difficult. A ronin is technically still of the samurai
caste, but with no lord or clan to protect or care for him, he must
make his own way through the world, tossed by the waves of
fate – hence the name ronin, or “wave-man.” Since ronin cannot
rely on a stipend or household, most of them are forced to work
as mercenaries or bodyguards, earning food and lodging by the
strength of their swords. Some ronin ultimately must engage in
manual labor to earn their keep, but as samurai they consider
this bitterly shameful, and many of them resort to crime or banditry
rather than live like common folk.

Below the bonge are the lowest of Rokugan’s social order, the
hinin or “non-people,” who are born into those tasks which the
Rokugani consider to be intrinsically spiritually impure. Primarily,
this involves any activity which leads to touching “unclean”
substances such as blood, garbage, or dead flesh. Morticians,
leatherworkers, and refuse collectors (known collectively as eta)
form the bulk of the hinin caste. Such persons are regarded as
less than nothing, and even peasants look down on them and
abuse them. The eta’s life is bitter and unpleasant, and their only
hope under the rules of the Celestial Order is to fulfill their duties
well enough to be reborn into a higher station in their next life.
The rest of Rokugan ignores the eta as much as possible. Nevertheless,
these people have a vital role, performing the “unclean”
jobs no one else will touch.

Although most of the hinin are eta, the ranks of this caste
also include a few other individuals. Torturers, who must constantly
inflict harm and touch blood and sweat, are also considered
hinin, although they are permitted to serve samurai more
directly than the eta. Finally, geisha – women who offer samurai
entertainment and companionship – are considered to be hinin,
although unlike eta and torturers they are accorded certain fame
and respect by the rest of society.

And that's the brief version in the base book!
The books Emerald Empire and the Clan expansion books have much more on the role of the peasant, social customs, etc.
I'll make these available on the weekend.

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Re: L5R Ettiquette

Postby Mayhem » Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:12 am

Tell me you didn't copy that out by hand.
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Re: L5R Ettiquette

Postby Ace » Wed Nov 21, 2012 4:22 am

I'd be lying if I said I did. I only put the spaces in, or it would appear as one massive slab of text.
And to clarify - none of the above is my own work, that all belongs to Shawn Carman, Robert Hobart, Jim Pinto, & Brian Yoon, and Robert Hobart & Todd Rowland.
I happen to have access to a useful copy of the L5R 4th edition text. Its a pity I don't have the same for Emerald Empire, as that is the book with all the customs information. But I'm not willing to spend the time transcribing that out now.

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Re: L5R Ettiquette

Postby Tree frog » Wed Nov 21, 2012 10:57 am

Thank you once again...
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