Legend of the Five Rings - The Way of Bushido
Things to do at Winter Court
The Cities and Courts of Rokugan tend to have quite a lot of events going on. While most of them serve more as excuses to meet people without appearing to be looking for them in particular and backdrops for deal-making, you never know when something is going to be useful, informative, or somehow wind up involving the characters more than superficially. Here, therefore, is a table of common events.
(1)Readings and Presentations are always popular – and can easily be scheduled virtually every day. All you need is a comfortable room, a few servants to serve tea, someone literate with a good voice, and a book. What kind of readings will it be today?
Cautionary Tales: Stories of great failures, embarrassments, defeats, acts of foolishness, and other disasters.
Current and Original Works: There are always new authors and personal works. Will these be any good? Only one way to find out.
Duties to the Empire: Tales of Duty, Obligation, and Sacrifice.
Glorious Exploits: Tales of ordinary heroism, great victories, and exploits that bring lasting fame.
The Histories of Rokugan: Tales of the founding and later years.
Just So Stories: Tales of how things became as they are – the origins of plants and animals, customs, and other things, including pre-imperial tales.
Military Writings: Campaigns, Battles, Tactics, and Strategy.
Popular Tales: Famous fictional narratives, peasant tales, and other amusements.
Tales of Gods and Heroes: Mythical figures facing larger-than-life situations.
The Tao of Shinsei: Incomprehensible, and thus filled with all meaning.
(2)Theater and Music events are usually presented by formal troupes, but are occasionally presented by the amusement-seekers themselves. The most common forms include:
Concerts: Formal musical presentations by large groups of performers.
Dinner Music: Informal musical presentations by individual artists or small groups. Often a backdrop for other events.
Famous Artists: Presentations by individual famous or aspiring artists.
Famous Orations: Presentations of great speeches from the past.
Formal / Noh and Kyogen: Highly stylized plays with amusing interludes.
Kabuki: Energetic, “modern”, plays with intense action and plenty of excitement and commentery
Informal: Also known as “Performance Art”. Includes jesters, political commentators, skits, large-scale role-playing events, and acts intended to involve the audience.
Improvisations: Displays of an actors or musicians virtuosity and ability to work off-the-cuff.
Puppet Shows: These can be quite elaborate and involve numerous puppeteers.
(3)Competitions and Exhibitions take a little more arranging, but can keep a court busy for a several days. Competitions, of course, are usually between members of the court.
Exhibitions are presented by others – whether to show off local accomplishments, as a part of a tour, or imported by the guests as a favor to their hosts. In general, something like this should turn up at least once a week… Given that these vary a lot in frequency, they’re listed in groups. Just pick something appropriate.
Acrobatics / Bonsai Training / Brushwork
Calligraphy / Clock Making / Cooking
Costume or Mask Making / Crafts (this is often a disguised promotion for trade deals) /
Directing / Exotic Techniques / Featherwork
Flower-Arranging / Gardening / Glassblowing
Ivory Carving / Magic / Origami
Painting / Pet Tricks and Animal Training / Play Writing and Directing
Poetry Composition (whether fast, on particular subjects) / Pottery / Sculpting
Singing / Storytelling / Summarizing Great Works
Swordsmithing and Sword Techniques / Unarmed Techniques / Wood Carving and Crafting
(4)Awards and Honors tend to be events of opportunity: when something comes up, so
does such an event – however a lot of courts schedule special days for such things once or
twice a year.
Adulthood/Gempukku: Coming-of-age ceremonies tend to involve minor contests, gifts, and quite a lot of pleasantries.
Alliances and Agreements: Always a cause for a celebration and formal announcement,
Childbirth: OK, this happens all the time – but since everyone makes a fuss over it anyway, you might as well set aside the occasional day to celebrate it.
Formal Departure: Whenever someone important leaves.
Formal Reception or Recognition: When someone is formally presented to the rest of the court.
Funeral: Does this need an explanation?
Marriage or Proposal: Or this?
Notable Visit: Some great Artist, Holy Man, Imperial Representative, or other notable figure has dropped by, and it will – of course- be an occasion.
Promotions: There are always people who have done well to be promoted, awarded fiefs, assigned to better duties, or given more important responsibilities. There are always people
to disciplined as well, but there’s no reason to make a public event out of that.
Retirement: Someone important is leaving to become a monk, live quietly in their old age, or otherwise take their leave of public life.
(5) Mental Competitions tend to be less serious than physical ones – at least to start with. In Rokugan, care must still be taken to keep the situation under control. Scholars and Courtiers are usually less touchy than Bushi, but once egos come into play you may still wind up with duels being fought over trivia.
Antique Evaluation and Forgery Detection / Aphorisms of Bushido
“Clue” (Investigating) / Tabletop Games (Go, Shogi, Battletech, Mahjong, etc)
Criticism / Debates
Essay Writing / Forgery Detection
Heraldry Recognition / Koans
Logic, Math, and Mechanical Puzzles / Meditation / Ninja Spotting (or at least spotting hidden things)
Public Speaking / Puzzles (Logic, Mechanical, Mathematical)
Reflections on the Tao / Riddles and Obscure Lore
Scavenger Hunt / Situational Puzzles (Of Bushido, Honor, and Duty)
Spirit Sensing / Theology
(6) Tales, Lectures, and Classes differ principally in the depth in which they cover their
material. Tales are informal, although occasionally enlightening, expositions. Lectures attempt to cover some topic in useful depth, and usually come in strings of a week or two.
Classes are more elaborate, usually last at least a month, and provide useful instruction
under the usual rules. Tales and Lectures are fairly easy to arrange, although care must be taken to avoid finding a boring, offensive, or simply ignorant speaker. Classes are a bit harder: you actually need someone who really knows the subject and how to teach it. They also tend to attract less interest than lectures and tales since they require a much greater commitment to get anything out of.
Alchemy / Ancestors / Antidotes and Toxins
Architecture and Engineering / Astronomy / Battle Tactics
Botany / Bushido / Crafts (Various) or (Clan) Studies
Divination and Omens / Economics / Folktales
Geography and Cartography / Ghosts and Spirits / Herbology
Heraldry / History / Law
Linguistics / Logic / Magical Lore
Mechanics / Music / Naga Lore
Gaijin, Naga, Nezumi and other obscure Studies / Physics / Planar Studies
Superstitions / Theology / Zoology
(7) Physical Competitions are pretty straightforward – and, unlike most other competitions
in Rokugan, are relatively safe. It’s pretty rare for a Samurai to want to challenge all the witnesses to dispute the outcome of lifting weights or horse racing.
Archery / Boat Racing
Dog Racing / Dressage
Fishing / Foot Races
Hang Gliding / Horse Races
Horse Riding / Hide-and-Seek
Kemari and other Ball Games / Kite Flying
Orienteering / Siegecraft and Weapons
Sledding or Skiing / Sumo Wrestling
Swimming / Swordsmanship
Weight Lifting and Unarmed Combat / Wrestling
(8) General Events are simply the activities that fill days when nothing else is going on. For the most part, except for fireworks, they’re not particularly expensive or difficult to arrange.
Adornment (Exotic Costumes, Face Painting, Costume/Role-Playing Parties)
Animal (Bird, Butterfly, Insect, etc) (Breeding, Training, Watching, Exhibitions, Fights, Collecting)
Bingo / Raffles / Carnival Games
Formal Dinners / General Parties
Fireworks / Magical Presentations / Fortune Telling
Hunting (Bandits, Hawking, Monsters)
Receptions and General Gatherings (Basically simply spending the day negotiating)
Seasonal Events (Snow and Ice Sculpting, Firefly Catching,
Tea Ceremonies / Food and Wine-Tasting
Viewing (Dawn, Flowers, Storms, Sunset)
(9) Combat Events are relatively common as tournaments, but – at least hopefully – are
uncommon when it comes to serious fights. Nevertheless, the Samurai are a warrior caste, and such events are always popular.
Duels: Swordsmanship is THE classic, but virtually any other weapon will do.
Grand Melee: Basically a battle, albeit one normally limited to using bokken and other less
dangerous substitutes for the usual deadly weapons.
Magical Battles: These are always popular if they can be arranged. This includes attempts to get Monks to show off their abilities, but that’s almost as rare as the Shugenja showing off theirs.
Open Battle: A tournament where anyone is allowed to compete, including Peasants, who may thus gain status as Ashigaru.
Peasant Battles are essentially simply training exercises for the Ashigaru, but do allow the aspiring generals and commanders to show off their skills – although they’re usually
forbidden to use any weapons personally.
Siege Exercises include competitions with siege weapons, ladder-climbing, storming walls, and similar events. This sort of thing is rare, if only because it’s very expensive to arrange.
Smashing: This is basically a game of showing off how well you can destroy inanimate objects – cutting through old helmets or irreparable armor, smashing walls with heavy weapons, breaking boards with your bare hands, and so on. As an alternative, there are occasional exhibitions of fine control, such as cutting stone, pottery, or trees without leaving any sign of damage until the object begins to slide apart.
Unarmed Combat. This includes all the classic forms – karate, ju-jitsu, and many more. It’s quite popular, and a lot less lethal than even most blunted weapons. This category also includes exotic stealth-combat, evasive, and similar techniques.
(10) Festivals are often local, and are extremely common. Oddly enough, while every area has some regular festivals, there are plenty which are – thanks to omens, odd traditions, and rare triggering events – only occasionally celebrated. Secondarily, if you want to have a festival, some priest somewhere in the city will almost certainly be able to think of one if you can just supply the necessary resources to hold it. Exactly what a Festival is celebrating usually sets the tone, but processions, music, foodstuffs, and people running around in strange costumes can usually be assumed.
Activities (Kite Flying, War, Farming, Jadeworking, Smithing, Teaching, Walking, Commerce,
Animal (Shapeshifters, Rat, Dog, Horse, Stag, Fox, Bull, Sparrow, Nightingale, Carp, Phoenix,
Ki-Rin, Nezumi, Naga, Goblin, Giant Monsters of Legend, etc, etc, etc…).
Carnival (General, Fools Day (when convention-breaking is allowable), Dancing, Beer / Sake).
Celestial Kami (Sun, Moon, Dragons or Elements, Founding Kami, Ryoshun, Star or Stars,
Children (Boys, Girls, In General, Coming of Age, Childbirth, Sex).
Harvest, Fertility or Resources (Thanksgiving, Various Foods and Drinks (Buns, Noodles, Rice,
Sake, Etc), Fertility, Jade, Bamboo, Iron, Silk).
Holy (Blessings, Dragon Boat Races, Purification, Forgiveness of Debts, Luck, Day of the
Dead, Gates, Shrine Dedications).
Local Spirits (Ancestors (specific or general, often the founders of something, such as the
local Clan), Processions, Rivers, Forests, Hills and Mountains, Groves, Specific Kami).
Natural Beauties and Events (Butterflies, Flowers (Plum, Cherry, Lotus, Etc), Sunset, Dawn,
Night Sky, Waterfall, Snow, Rain, Songbirds, Cloud, Changing Seasons, Solstices and
Equinoxes, Trees, Clear Sky)
Traditions (Day of Thunder or Seven Thunders, Imperial Birthday, New Years, Forfending
Rituals (versus Disease, Fu Leng, Taint, Monsters, and other Horrors), Bad Omens, Honoring
the Creation, Floating Lanterns, Winter Bathing, Naked (Loincloth) day, Dolls, Bean Throwing,
Celebration of some Victory, Sunbathing, the Laying of some terrible local spirit or ghost)