Saturday, February 11, 2006

A Post for the Uninformed

Well again it comes to it. I had done this on my last blog and I feel the need to do it here again. This is a post for all people who are not familiar with either Rokugani or Feudal Japanese customs, I will go over some of the strange words that I often use in my story and explain them a little.

Usually placed after the persons family name these suffix's are a denotation of the level of respect shown by the speaker.
-San, the most common, indicates respect on a peer to peer level.
-Sama, is used mostly used to indicate great respect for a lord, or when anothers rank is unknown.
-Chan, rarely used, is indicative of a familial bond, normally between close siblings, though it may also used by a close friend of greater age, such as a Sensei or an uncle.

Caste System:
Sad but true, Rokugan is a caste system, but hey it's good to be on top...
-Emporer, basic, he's the head honcho, whatever he says is law. Most Rokugani look at their Emporer as a Son of Heaven, being near infallable, though most samurai realize he is just a man.
-Clan Champion, each of the Clans in Rokugan, Major or Minor, have a Champion. The Champion is the highest rank in that Clan and has the power to start or stop wars.
-Daimyo, each family in each clan has a Family Daimyo, the Daimyo from the most prominent family is usually also the Clan Champion.
-Samurai, all of the above ranks are also part of the samurai class, any samurai below those ranks either falls into the Bushi, or Shugenga class. Bushi are the traditional type of samurai, doing all the fighting and killing and such. Shugenga are the magic users of the empire, they commune with the kami to produce magical elemental effects. Other subclasses to the Samurai class are Courtier, Scout, Monk, and even Merchant.
-Peasant, most of Rokugan is made up of this class, they do the manual labour and give tribute to the Emporer and their local Daimyo, in turn they are protected by the samurai and area allowed to serve the Glorious Emporer.
-Eta, the lowest of the low, eta are considered filth even by the peasant class, they are responsible for hauling away refuse and disposing of corpses. Most samurai are of the mind that eta are less than human, this, as well as the fact that everyone is born into his or her class with little or no hope of advancement, and it is little surprise that eta would resent their superiors.

To determine status among ranks of samurai one has to be wily and educated, insulting a superior with the improper honourific could lead to death, here is how it is done.
-Family Name, each person in the samurai class has a proper name that is taken at Gempukku (the coming of age ceremony) as well as a Family Name. When the persons name is said the Family Name always comes first, so if I were to say Kyoji's name for example it would be like this: Bayushi Kyoji. This indicates what family he is a part of, in this case the Bayushi family, a samurai would also know from that what Clan the person belonged to, Bayushi being part of the Scorpion Clan.
-Mon, the Mon is a circular symbol similar in function to a coat of arms, each family has a unique Mon. A samurai has to know what each Family and Clans Mons look like, at least enough to be able to recognize them on sight, many pity the samurai who mistakens the mon of the Bayushi family, Scorpion, for that of the Hida family, Crab. Mons are also used for other things besides indicating families, they can also be used to indicate being trained by another clan, membership in a Legion or as a Magistrate, or a high rank such as Emerald or Amethyst Champion.
-Dress, this is the final way a samurai may tell the rank of any given person, though it may suit a higher ranking samurai to mascerade as a common samurai when travelling or conducting secret business, so it is best for a samurai to always assume the person he is talking to is of higher rank, just to be safe.

The life of a samurai, weapons symbolize rank and honour and are cared for with respect, well, most of the time.
-Katana, the 2nd most common, the katana is commonly known as a 'samurai sword', which is true to an extent. The katana features a curving single edged blade about 3.5 feet in length with a small round crossguard and a hilt fit for two hands. It is indeed most exclusively used by samurai.
-Wakizashi, the most common, it symbolizes the samurai's honour, even non-combatants like Shugenga or Courtiers will carry these. The Wakizashi is very similar to the Katana except in a smaller scale, the blade is only about 1 foot long, and the hilt is meant only for a hand and a half.
-Nagimaki, traditionally the weapon of choice for Yojimbo (bodyguards), the Nagamaki is also similar to the Katana, the main difference is that the blade usually has less of a curve and the handle is about 2 feet long giving the weapon more leverage at the expense of manueverability. The Nagamaki is carried unsheathed.
-Tetsubo, a weapon found throughout the Crab clan, the Tetsubo is a long studded wooden club. Upwards of 5 feet long including the handle, the Tetusubo can be driven with fantastic force into ones foes, crushing bones even through armour. Since it's mostly comprised of wood the Tetsubo is much cheaper to manufacture than the finely crafted Katana, and therefore more easily replacable in battle.
-Kusari-Gami, a strange weapon to be found in the hands of a samurai, the Kusari-Gami is actually a combination of two weapons, a Kama (a scythe type weapon derived from a farm implement) and a Flail (a handle and a chain with a heavy weight at the end also derived from a farm implement). The Kusari-Gami is basically a Kama with a Flail attached to the bottom of the handle. Since it is an off-shoot of a farm implement it is looked upon scornfully by most samurai. The Mantis Clan, however, will often use Kama as their primary weapon because they are cheap to replace and when fighting out on open water aboard ships one has the tendency to loose weapons.
-Yari, the basic infantry weapon given to most peasant militia. The Yari is a Spear, pure and simple, a wooden shaft and a metal head, good for throwing or hindering cavalry. Samurai will sometimes carry a few of these into battle as a type of lance when fighting while mounted.

oops. I forgot the quote of the post, so here it is:

"Alas for the wailing of the gulls! Did not the Lady tell me to beware of them?" Legolas Greenleaf



At 8:25 am , Blogger Angela said...

Thanks for the explaining! Very interesting!


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