[Rokugan] Fortunes & Winds

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[Rokugan] Fortunes & Winds

Post by Big Mac »

There is a book out for Rokugan called Fortunes & Winds.

The blurb of this book says: "MANY WORLDS LIE BEYOND THIS ONE. TRY MY PATIENCE, SAMURAI, AND I WILL SEND YOU TO THEM." It also says: "This book introduces the ten Spirit Realms to your Legend of the Five Rings campaign."

Is this stuff more like Legend of the Five Ring's version of Planescape or is it a set of ten planets in the same solar system as Rokugan? Or is this something else (like ten continents on the same world, that are reached by portals)?

If this is Rokugan's Planescape, is there anything else out there? I'm pretty sure I've seen someone mention a Plane of Wood and imply it was an oriental thing. Is that from Legend of the Five Rings?
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Re: [Rokugan] Fortunes & Winds

Post by ripvanwormer »

It's more like Planescape. The spirit realms described in Fortunes & Winds are:

Jigoku, the realm of evil (this is where the various oni come from).
Gaki-do, the realm of hungry ghosts.
Sakkadu, the realm of mischief.
Meido, the realm of waiting.
Yomi, the realm of blessed ancestors.
Tengoku, the celestial heavens.
Chikushudo, the realm of animals.
Toshigoku, the realm of slaughter.
Yume-do, the realm of dreams.
Ningen-do, the realm of mortals.

Wood as one of the five elements (the wu xing) is a Taoist thing, but the concept of elemental planes isn't really from the Taoist cosmology (as far as I can tell, it's from Michael Moorcock's Elric books). Also: Rokugan isn't based on Taoism, so wood isn't an element in Rokugan. The five elements in Rokugan come from Miyamoto Musashi's take on it, so they're earth, water, fire, air, and void.

There is no plane of wood in Fortunes & Winds. There is a plane of wood in the Zeitgeist Games Blackmoor line, and in the 3e Manual of the Planes. Oh, and of course the Shou in Spelljammer/Kara-Tur believe that wood is an element.

Probably the closest thing to elemental realms in the Rokugan cosmology is Tengoku, where the Elemental Dragons dwell. There is no Dragon of Wood.

The book briefly mentions the existence of alternate worlds where history unfolded differently, but these are considered part of Ningen-do. These are parallel timelines rather than other planets separated by space.

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Re: [Rokugan] Fortunes & Winds

Post by Michael Tumey »

Not only is the Taoist vs. the Musashi five elements different (void vs. wood), but the meanings of the five elements different from each other, and are in no way associated to the western meanings of the four elements. There is no real connection between the Taoist five elements, the Musashi five elements and the west's four elements - what fire means to the west is completely different from fire in Taoism and fire is Musashi philosophy, in fact between the latter two the meanings are the opposite to one another. I've always found it strange when a westerner with some familiarity with the four elements and their meanings try to comprehend the east's - almost as if using the west's version of earth, wind, fire and water, then coming up with something else for a fifth element - and think they understand...

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Re: [Rokugan] Fortunes & Winds

Post by Ashtagon »

Interestingly, for all that Rokugan is supposedly a Japanese setting, its interpretation of the elements is actually an Indic model.

The Chinese model has wood as the fifth element. The Japanese model splits "air" into separate wind (kaze) and sky (sora) elements. Sky is sometimes mistranslated as void, but more properly means sky (the kanji are quite different for the two base concepts). It most closely corresponds to the Indic concept of sunyata, not to akasha.

Indic texts identify void as the fifth element (akasha) and sometimes consciousness as a sixth element (vinyana).

That said, the Japanese sky element is in metaphysical terms, about things beyond everyday experiences

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_Xing
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_elem ... hilosophy)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mah%C4%81bh%C5%ABta
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Re: [Rokugan] Fortunes & Winds

Post by Big Mac »

ripvanwormer wrote:It's more like Planescape. The spirit realms described in Fortunes & Winds are:

Jigoku, the realm of evil (this is where the various oni come from).
Gaki-do, the realm of hungry ghosts.
Sakkadu, the realm of mischief.
Meido, the realm of waiting.
Yomi, the realm of blessed ancestors.
Tengoku, the celestial heavens.
Chikushudo, the realm of animals.
Toshigoku, the realm of slaughter.
Yume-do, the realm of dreams.
Ningen-do, the realm of mortals.
Thanks for that, Rip. If I was trying to...somehow...fit Rokugan into the same universe as Spelljammer/Planescape and the D&D worlds, would you say that these work like Outer Planes? Yomi, at least, sounds like a realm of dead people.
ripvanwormer wrote:Wood as one of the five elements (the wu xing) is a Taoist thing, but the concept of elemental planes isn't really from the Taoist cosmology (as far as I can tell, it's from Michael Moorcock's Elric books). Also: Rokugan isn't based on Taoism, so wood isn't an element in Rokugan. The five elements in Rokugan come from Miyamoto Musashi's take on it, so they're earth, water, fire, air, and void.

There is no plane of wood in Fortunes & Winds. There is a plane of wood in the Zeitgeist Games Blackmoor line, and in the 3e Manual of the Planes. Oh, and of course the Shou in Spelljammer/Kara-Tur believe that wood is an element.

Probably the closest thing to elemental realms in the Rokugan cosmology is Tengoku, where the Elemental Dragons dwell. There is no Dragon of Wood.
Sounds like I'm barking up the wrong tree and that this was one of the OA things put in for backward compatibility with Kara-Tur.
ripvanwormer wrote:The book briefly mentions the existence of alternate worlds where history unfolded differently, but these are considered part of Ningen-do. These are parallel timelines rather than other planets separated by space.
Aha. That sounds a bit like some of the alternative Krynn's in Legends of the Twins. I probably would not use that, as I am still trying to learn enough about Rokugan to use one version of it. ;)
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Re: [Rokugan] Fortunes & Winds

Post by Big Mac »

Michael Tumey wrote:Not only is the Taoist vs. the Musashi five elements different (void vs. wood), but the meanings of the five elements different from each other, and are in no way associated to the western meanings of the four elements. There is no real connection between the Taoist five elements, the Musashi five elements and the west's four elements - what fire means to the west is completely different from fire in Taoism and fire is Musashi philosophy, in fact between the latter two the meanings are the opposite to one another.
That sounds interesting.

So, if there were elementals included in a game based on Taoism or Musashi, do you think these creatures should act radically differently from how they are portrayed in the Monster Manual (or Manual of the Planes)?
Michael Tumey wrote:I've always found it strange when a westerner with some familiarity with the four elements and their meanings try to comprehend the east's - almost as if using the west's version of earth, wind, fire and water, then coming up with something else for a fifth element - and think they understand...
One thing to bear in mind about me - as I am the original poster of this topic, is that I am not "a westerner with some familiarity with the four elements and their meanings trying to comprehend the east's five elements". I am in fact someone who prior to roleplaying had zero interest in the classical elements and who has researched things only to the extent that they allow me to play a game that has a good "feel" to it.

I have heard people say that people playing with Kara-Tur do not understand Asian culture well enough. To be honest, at least in my case*, I do not want to emulate the real culture. If I wanted to do that, I would buy a Japanese RPG or a Chinese RPG (along with an English RPG or a French RPG for western fantasy). I actually like my campaign settings to be different enough from reality, that when I have an "evil nation" someone does not suggest that I have made the evil nation into Germany or Korea or some other real-world nation.

* = I think that generalisations can be a bit unhelpful sometimes, as issues are usually about a subset of people.

So, what I'm trying to do here, is learn how Rokugan is trying to imply that other planes work in its universe. I think that learning about the real-world stuff could actually help make me a more educated person, but if Rokugan differs from the real-world, then I kind of need to learn the Rokugan way of doing things.

I guess what I need to know is, how does the presentation of the five elements relate to cosmology...for Rokugan. Could it be something like the Elemental Chaos of 4th Edition, with all five elements mixed together? Or is it something that isn't actually in other planes at all? Are the elements just something you find as building blocks on the Material Plane?

(I will be needing to ask these same questions for Kara-Tur, at some point - I'm guessing it would need to be shoehorned into The Great Wheel or the 3e/4e Realms variant. And I would love to know the same sort of stuff for the cosmology of your own campaign setting at some point. Essentially, if I have Shou spelljamming ships going to visit planets that have similar cultures, I need to sell the similarities of the Asian worlds, but also sell the differences between each world/crystal sphere. And I need to sell the similarities/differences from the point of view of a sage from Kara-Tur.)
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Re: [Rokugan] Fortunes & Winds

Post by Big Mac »

Ashtagon wrote:Interestingly, for all that Rokugan is supposedly a Japanese setting, its interpretation of the elements is actually an Indic model.
Really? That sounds like something I need to know more about. Where do I find information that will help me understand how it works? Is this in Fortunes & Winds or the basic books?
Ashtagon wrote:The Chinese model has wood as the fifth element. The Japanese model splits "air" into separate wind (kaze) and sky (sora) elements. Sky is sometimes mistranslated as void, but more properly means sky (the kanji are quite different for the two base concepts). It most closely corresponds to the Indic concept of sunyata, not to akasha.
That sounds like I could use it as air...and...wildspace! :P ;) :D
Ashtagon wrote:Indic texts identify void as the fifth element (akasha) and sometimes consciousness as a sixth element (vinyana).
So do you think that Rokugan has six elements?
Ashtagon wrote:That said, the Japanese sky element is in metaphysical terms, about things beyond everyday experiences

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_Xing
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_elem ... hilosophy)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mah%C4%81bh%C5%ABta
Thanks for these links. I'll have to read more, although I also need to stay on track and not get distracted by cool real-world stuff that is incompatible with Rokugan.
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Re: [Rokugan] Fortunes & Winds

Post by ripvanwormer »

Big Mac wrote:Thanks for that, Rip. If I was trying to...somehow...fit Rokugan into the same universe as Spelljammer/Planescape and the D&D worlds, would you say that these work like Outer Planes? Yomi, at least, sounds like a realm of dead people.
Yes, they're all realms of dead people, even Ningen-do (because reincarnation is a thing). Except for Ningen-do, all the spirit realms are essentially outer planes as D&D defines the term.

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Re: [Rokugan] Fortunes & Winds

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ripvanwormer wrote:
Big Mac wrote:Thanks for that, Rip. If I was trying to...somehow...fit Rokugan into the same universe as Spelljammer/Planescape and the D&D worlds, would you say that these work like Outer Planes? Yomi, at least, sounds like a realm of dead people.
Yes, they're all realms of dead people, even Ningen-do (because reincarnation is a thing). Except for Ningen-do, all the spirit realms are essentially outer planes as D&D defines the term.
Thanks Rip. I think I'll probably put this book on my buy-this list.

Is there any sort of diagram or map that shows any sort of structure, similar to D&D's Great Wheel, to show how the various Spirit Realms relate to each other (or connect up)?
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Re: [Rokugan] Fortunes & Winds

Post by ripvanwormer »

Big Mac wrote:Is there any sort of diagram or map that shows any sort of structure, similar to D&D's Great Wheel, to show how the various Spirit Realms relate to each other (or connect up)?
Not in the book, but the description of each realm details which other realms are close, which are distant, and which are barred entirely from access to the realm. This is similar to the way the various planes of Eberron relate to each other, but the relationships are stable (as opposed to the way Eberron's planes come in and out of conjunction at different times).

For example, Jigoku, the realm of evil, is very close to Ningen-do; the Shadowlands are a manifestation of Jigoku's taint. It's also close to Gaki-do (close enough to taint parts of it) and to Sakkaku and Yomi. Jigoku is cosmologically distant from Chikushudo and Toshigoku. Jigoku is barred from Meido and Tengoku; you can't get there directly from those realms.

The result is that the various connections get pretty complicated, so it's hard to make a map that isn't just a tangle of crisscrossing lines. Here's a map I just made showing which realms are cosmologically close together: Image

It's not really to scale. Yume-do, the realm of dreams, is very close to the mortal realm Ningen-do but I moved it a little further for legibility purposes.

I could add other lines of other colors showing which realms are distant, barred, or somewhere in between, but I think it'd hurt legibility. This gives you a basic idea of the structure, anyway.

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Re: [Rokugan] Fortunes & Winds

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Ashtagon wrote:Interestingly, for all that Rokugan is supposedly a Japanese setting, its interpretation of the elements is actually an Indic model.

The Chinese model has wood as the fifth element. The Japanese model splits "air" into separate wind (kaze) and sky (sora) elements. Sky is sometimes mistranslated as void, but more properly means sky (the kanji are quite different for the two base concepts). It most closely corresponds to the Indic concept of sunyata, not to akasha.

Indic texts identify void as the fifth element (akasha) and sometimes consciousness as a sixth element (vinyana).

That said, the Japanese sky element is in metaphysical terms, about things beyond everyday experiences
Interestingly, there is also the Metal element. I wonder if that was meant to be a sub-derivative of the Earth element?

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Re: [Rokugan] Fortunes & Winds

Post by Ashtagon »

Angel Tarragon wrote:Interestingly, there is also the Metal element. I wonder if that was meant to be a sub-derivative of the Earth element?
Metal as an element only exists in Chinese elemental lore (and to a very limited extent, after the difference between chemical earths and chemical metals was discovered, in European alchemical tradition). It doesn't actually have any place in the Rokugan campaign setting that I am aware of. In the 3e OA book, wu jen use the Chinese elemental model (and shugenja use the Japanese/Indic model), but wu jen are noted as a banned class for Rokugan.
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Re: [Rokugan] Fortunes & Winds

Post by Big Mac »

Ashtagon wrote:
Angel Tarragon wrote:Interestingly, there is also the Metal element. I wonder if that was meant to be a sub-derivative of the Earth element?
Metal as an element only exists in Chinese elemental lore (and to a very limited extent, after the difference between chemical earths and chemical metals was discovered, in European alchemical tradition). It doesn't actually have any place in the Rokugan campaign setting that I am aware of. In the 3e OA book, wu jen use the Chinese elemental model (and shugenja use the Japanese/Indic model), but wu jen are noted as a banned class for Rokugan.
I've heard that all the stuff that is "banned for Rokugan" is there for Kara-Tur players.

If that is the case, then I presume the presence of Chinese elements, that are included in OA, but kept out of Rokugan, would be Kara-Tur elements.
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