Honor and Steel
Bloodspeaker: A practitioner of Maho, or Blood Magic. Very dangerous, very evil, they draw their powers from blood, which is a physical combination of the five elements of reality. It has been an imperial edict since the days of the evil Iuchiban to destroy all bloodspeakers on sight.
Bushido: Way of the Warrior. This is a code of conduct for samurai throughout Rokugan, based on the Seven Virtues of Honesty/Justice, Courtesy, Compassion, Sincerity, Courage, Honesty, Honor, and Duty/Loyalty. The Honor mechanic in L5R is based on this.
Clan Champion: The ruler of an entire Clan, which is comprised of one or more families. Often, the head of the ruling family is also the Clan Champion.
Courtier: A courtier is a representative in a lord’s court. He represents his clan and his lord’s interest in court. Court is where most of the major decisions, and therefore most of the politics, happens in Rokugan, and a courtier has to be able to navigate through this to meet his agenda. The courts of Rokugan can be very dangerous places, for it is here that wars are discussed and often waged well before any soldier is mustered for battle, and the deals and arrangements made here can spell death for countless hundreds, even thousands of lives.
Daimyo: Daimyo are in charge of whole prominent samurai families in Rokugan.
Daisho: Refers to the paired swords Katana and Wakizashi that samurai warriors carry. Not all samurai carry the Katana, but all carry the Wakizashi.
Emerald Champion: The chief law enforcement officer of the Emerald Empire, and the Empress’s prime minister. He is in command of the Emerald Legions (the Empress’s personal troops), and the Emerald Magistrate corps. His job is to collect the taxes and enforce the Empress’s will.
Game of Letters: There is no formal name for this, but it is a very time-honored tradition among the Rokugani, especially among the samurai. When samurai send each other letters, a lot more than just words go into it. The quality of the paper, the type of ink, the quality of the calligraphy, and even what you use to dry the ink can all send messages to your recipient that only they will understand. When spies can intercept any message, such a game is necessary to deceive them, and ensure that the recipient gets the message you want to convey.
Governor: A governor is in charge of a province within a clan (or, in rare cases, outside of a clan).
Gunpowder: Known as Gaijin Pepper, gunpowder is completely illegal and banned from Rokugan by Imperial Edict.
Heimen: Means “half-people,” in Rokugani. Heimen are the Peasant caste, which are beneath the Samurai Caste in hierarchy. Among the peasantry, Farmers are the most esteemed (by the samurai, at least), followed by the artisans (carpenters, stonemasons, miners, etc.) and lastly the Merchants, who are said to produce nothing but money.
Hinin: Means “non-person” in Rokugani, also known as the Eta. Eta are truly at the lowest you can get in Rokugani society. They are considered unclean, and therefore are required to do things considered unclean by both samurai and peasants, such as handling dead flesh (except cooking), leatherworking, cleaning up sewage and trash, and so on. It is not a crime to hurt or kill Hinen, even by Peasantry. Geisha are considered a part of the eta as well, but they are more often than not protected by samurai patrons. Criminals also fall under this “caste.” The only ones that are considered even lower than Hinen are Gaijin.
Holding: A holding is an asset that generates a product or money. It could be a mine, a village, a tea house, a sake house, a warehouse, a city, a province, etc.
Iaijutsu: The formalized dueling method of Rokugan, practiced strictly by warriors.
Jade Champion: The Chief Magical advisor of the Empress, who is charged with purging all blood magic (Maho) from the Empire. This is always a shugenja.
Jigai: A form of ritual suicide practiced by samurai women when they are pregnant. Instead of seppuku, they take a knife such as a tanto or aiguchi, and stab themselves in the throat, and make a cut across to sever a jugular vein for a quick death.
Katana: One of the most exquisite swords ever made in history, and one of the deadliest, capable of cleaving through a human being. The Katana is the symbol of a samurai warrior (Bushi). Any who carry this weapon is expected to know how to use it. It is a sacred weapon; peasants and eta are not allowed to touch it on pain of death. The Katana represents the samurai’s duty to protect his lord, and also represents the bushi’s soul.
Lord: A samurai’s lord is his master, and a lord is anyone who is in authority over territory, or given authority by the Empress. One’s lord could be the governor of a province, a commanding officer, a bureaucrat, a family daimyo, clan champion, or even, someday, you may answer only to the Empress herself.
Magistrate: A magistrate is a law enforcement officer, either for a clan or the Empire-at-large. They pursue criminals, investigate crimes, issue travel permits, and decide cases as they are presented to them in lieu of a lord as the circumstances may dictate.
Maho: Blood magic.
Ruby Champion: The master sensei of the Emerald Dojo, where Emerald Magistrates and their assistants are trained.
Sadane: This is the courtly game of veiled insults. In a world where an insult could get one killed, or even start wars, the Rokugani often employ the indirect sleight against their adversaries that has become something of a game courtiers play. In Sadane, the trick is to make a statement in such a way that it could easily not be perceived as an insult. An example would be to comment to an adversary that it’s an interesting scent she is wearing. It may be perceived as a compliment, but in truth you are not saying so, and are calling to attention her taste in such perfume. Entire conversations are conducted in this way.
Seppuku: A traditional form of ritual suicide practiced only by samurai. A second stands over the samurai, who is kneeling on a tatami mat. As a formality, he may wear white, which is symbolic of death in Rokugan. He offers up a final poem, more often a death haiku, and then proceeds to purify his wakizashi with water. The second purifies his katana with water as well. Then, the samurai wraps his wakizashi in paper, to catch the blood, and he then stabs himself in the belly, where it is believed the soul resides. He makes three cuts, the first across his belly, the second upwards at an angle, and the last across again. He must not cry out in pain. The second is there to dispatch the samurai by decapitating him to prevent him from crying out, often before he can complete the cuts. This is a means of saving the samurai’s personal and family honor.
Shogun: Chief of all Military Operations in Rokguan. This office was first proposed by the military strategist Sun Tao more than 1,000 years prior, but only recently was filled, especially during the Destroyer War.
Shugenja: Priest/Wizards. These are samurai that possess the innate talent to listen and communicate with the spirits around them in order to perform various effects, particularly the elemental spirits of nature, based on the five elemental rings Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Void.
Topaz Champion: The Topaz Championship is awarded to the best new samurai to win at the tournament in Tsuma, in Kakita Provinces in Crane territory. It is a high honor; the Topaz Champion gets an exquisite set of armor, is invited to attend the Emperor’s Winter Court, and will likely get some prestigious position as a result, often within his own clan or within the auspices of the Emperor or another Jeweled Champion. This award lasts a year until the next Topaz Tournament in Tsuma, hence it is also known as the Rookie of the year award.
Wakizashi: The shorter sword that is both the symbol of the samurai caste and the duty a samurai has. Where the Katana is used to defend one’s lord, the Wakizashi is used to defend one’s Honor through the act of seppuku. Like the Katana, the Wakizashi is a revered weapon; no peasant may touch this weapon upon pain of death.