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275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 113 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
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Author Topic: [Hierarchy] Getting the castes right  (Read 4995 times)

Posts: 802

« on: January 15, 2006, 05:21:09 PM »


Hierarchy's revision is complete and I'll be uploading for download very soon.  Here's where you can download the origonal: http://www.1km1kt.net/rpg/Hierarchy.php

One question I have for folks though is this: Historically speaking, were the Daimyo actually under the Shogun?  If they were, does it matter in my game that they aren't?  Since it didn't come up in the Ronny's reviews, I'm not sure it's a big deal.  Just asking to clarify something for myself.  :)




Posts: 928

Don't Panic!

« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2006, 06:51:51 PM »

  Technically, the Daimyos swore fealty to the Emporer alone. Since the Shogun was his regent, they should obey the Shogun, but their allegiance should be to the Emperor first and foremost.
  I am not sure how much you are emphasizing the difference between the two realities, it may be inconsequential unless there is a major emphasis. For instance if you imply that a Daimy does not need to obey the Shogun, that would be contrary to the times and politics of the situation. The modern equivalent of Emporer/Shogun would be God/Pope for Catholics. Assuming the Shogun is honorable, his word is equivalent to be the will of the emporer...
  I'll check out the new version when you upload it, sounds like it might be neat.

Dave M
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Justin Marx

Posts: 88

« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2006, 09:33:01 PM »

IIRC, it depends upon the historical period. During the Edo period, the daimyo certainly were subordinate to the Tokugawa shoguns. But during the Sengoku period, the daimyo were all struggling (which is what daimyo means, someone with ambition) to become the shogun. So, you can play it any way you like, and if the game's good enough, it doesn't matter a jot methinks.


Posts: 54

« Reply #3 on: January 16, 2006, 09:56:33 AM »

There was only one Shogun at a time, but as mentioned, the Shogun's power did depend on the era.

In the Sengoku era, the Shogunate was a joke. The Ashikaga were the clan that held that position, but never actually held the power. Up until Oda Nobunaga, Japan was a warring mess of clans and the Shogun had no power at all.

In the Edo period, as mentioned, the situation was reversed. The Tokugawa Shogunate held so tightly to the reins of power that an actual revolt against them was impossible until the 1800s. Daimyo were kicked around on a regular basis, hostages were held from every clan, and every now and then a daimyo who even vaguely looked threatening would be ousted and a new clan put into power.

However, with the Emperor being in power, my suggestion is to can the position of Shogun entirely. The Shogun was only powerful because he was, A, theoretically the representative of the Emperor (in practice, the Emperor often named him Shogun because the guy put a sword to his throat), and B, throughout much of Japanese history he was the guy with more swords than anyone else.

My real name is B.J. Lapham.
Sydney Freedberg

Posts: 1293

« Reply #4 on: January 16, 2006, 02:42:33 PM »

To get even more complicated....

The whole Shogun + Emperor thing is an artifact of Japan being a relatively young culture growing up next to much older and more established ones. Circa 300 AD -- by which point China's been a unified power for, oh, 500 years and while Rome is slowly falling halfway around the world -- the ancestors of the Imperial line start carving out the first recognizable government of any kind in what is now Japan. They do this by importing such high tech from the mainland (probably Korea, although Japanese dislike Koreans enough they don't like to acknowledge this) as iron weapons, horses, Buddhist an ideographic system of writing totally unsuited to the Japanese language, and an elaborate system of Confucian government also unsuited for semi-barbaric Japanese conditions.

As a result the Emperor ends up trapped in such arduous rituals that Emperors routinely retired throughout Japanese history to avoid the sheer drudgery of it -- there were sometimes several such "retired Emperors" at once, each of the more powerful than the sitting Emperor -- and, likewise, the official bureaucracy was so cumbersome and ritualized that it lost all real power, becoming almost completely incapable of collecting taxes and therefore paying an army. In the resulting disorder, much as in medieval Europe after Rome fell, local landlords trying to defend their wealth were the only people with the resources to provide weapons, armor, horses, and training for themselves and their servitors -- "servitor" translating into Japanese as "samurai."

The most powerful leader of samurai eventually established himself as the "protector" of the Emperor and was given the title "Shogun," which is basically a title like "commander of the Imperial army" but in fact meant "real ruler of the land because he has the most troops and don't you forget it." Naturaly the title passed from the current Shogun to his son and so on. The Shoguns never overthrew the Emperors out of a mix of traditional reverence and political practicality, and instead kept them as useful and (usually) compliant figureheads... except when the occasional "retired Emperor" had time to get uppity.

By 1333, though, the Shogunate itself had lots its grip over the country, and Japan fell back into chaos, with the daimyo emerging as local, independent contenders each commanding many samurai. Eventually Togukawa clan beat out the other daimyo, united the country again, and took over the Shogunate, again as nominal servants for the puppet Emperor.

Until modernizing nationalists in the 19th century decided the whole system was ridiculous and kicked out the Shogun, freed the Emperor from the control of the archaic and incompetent Shogunate, and... put the Emperor under the control of a modern and completely alien Western-style cabinet of ministers. ("Meiji restoration").

Whereas in China, Emperors (or at least their advisors) were genuinely powerful most of the time and had big, well organized bureaucracies at their command. So in fact the real history of Japan is probably more suited for the kind of murk and intrigue your game seems to aim at -- especially given that the GM/Emperor is a thankless job with lots of prestige but starkly limited power!


Posts: 48

« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2006, 03:13:30 PM »

you might want to change the name of the castes
shogun to samurai (which can be roughly translated as noble)
and samurai to bushi (warrior)

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