ltwyman at osf1.gmu.edu
Mon Apr 16 04:34:49 EDT 2001
Alright... my two koku on the whole evil/not evil matter...
No one probably notices it, but my .sig contains the trait "Dragon Clan
Villain"... yet, when I play Dragon, I play honor decks without Shadowlands
cards or Kolat Masters/Assassins or the like (though I do use the Dupe).
I also don't consider myself a member of the HDM -- not because I disagree
with them (heck, I joined within a week or two of its creation), but
because, due to my persona's similarities to his Scorpion mother. Iyoku
(which, BTW, means "Ambition") is out to increase the glory and honor of
his clan, by any means. He uses "dishonorable" methods (blackmail, torture,
forgery), and abuses his position as a Magistrate, but believes himself to
be honorable, and will take offense at anyone who says otherwise. His
motivations are "honorable", and he hides his darker methods.
He's framed several innocent Phoenix rivals, accusing them of heinous
crimes, like murder, defiling the flesh of others, and conspiring
rebellion. He poisoned the ronin shugenja that carried out several deeds
for him, for knowing too much. He even had a Yatsuki diplomat infected with
the Taint and "exposed". (Not that he would ever deal with the Shadowlands
He's evil. He's conniving. He's brutal. But... he's not corrupt.
There's the difference: Evil is not necessarily Corrupt. Lady Hitomi showed
us that we can be Dark and still work for the greater good.
That's what I find so exasperating about the debates that periodically pop
up online. Call Hitomi "evil" and Iyoku will laugh and point out that, evil
or not, she still saved us all. Call Hitomi "corrupt" and Iyoku will cut
L5R has often been a game of clearly defined black and whites. Shadowlands
= Evil ; Empire = Good; Empire kill Shadowlands. Ninja = Evil; Empire =
Good; Empire kill Ninja.
However, what I like best about the game is the gray areas: Kisada at the
beginning of the Clan War. Shoju during the Coup. The battles between the
Crane and the Lion. Two honorable samurai facing each other on a wind-swept
field, hands on their blades, eyes locked, ready to strike -- each fighting
for nothing more than their own glory and the honor of their lord.
... And, of course, Sanzo, the Ronin enslaved by revenge, twisted by
Ambition, working towards a good and honorable cause, but, ultimately,
destroyed by his victory, a victory that no one will even acknowledge.
That's why I was so disappointed to see the Horde return in Gold. They're
such boring villains, so one-dimensional. Their very nature is to kill
simply because they are evil.
During the last storyline, far too much was made of who is good and who is
evil, whose side is justified, who is the aggressor and who is at fault.
Leave the apology and doublespeak to the diplomats. When people say, "You
must surrender because he is wrong in warring against us!", a samurai
(especially one that should be leading their armies against the foe) should
not reply, "Gee, yeah, I must have been mistaken, let me turn around my
forces so we can make peace!"
A samurai should reply, "Yes, I will attack you, and, yes, I will crush
you! Who is at fault won't matter after you've been destroyed!"
Sure, things must not simply be survival of the fittest, but stories about
peace tend to be boring. This is a game of war, after all. If I was a
Mantis, I would have revelled in the chance to smash everyone else; if I
was a Lion, I would have made no apologies for crushing the Crane.
(Now's our chance to fight, and with the Phoenix no less -- I hope that we
all meet the Phoenix's requests for peaceful resolution with warlike taunts :P)
So, what does all this have to do with card choice? Simple. Evil is a
matter of opinion; we all view our enemy and our enemy's tactics as wrong
and evil. Honor is likewise subjective. Corruption, however, is irrefutable
-- you have the Taint or you don't. You deal with the Kolat or you don't
(whether or not manipulating them is a bad thing is up to you). You are
controlled by the Shadow or you're not.
Let's not worry about being evil. It is possible to be viewed as evil and
still be more honorable than those viewed as good. Instead, let's worry
about being corrupted by outside forces. All that matters is the strength
of the Dragon and the strength of the individual (at least in Iyoku's
When one is corrupted by outside forces, one gives proof that they were not
strong enough to stand on their own, and calls into question the strength
of the individual -- could he/she have won without the aid of another? We
only gain Honor by acting on our own -- if we succeed due only to another,
the glory is theirs.
Are Ambushing and Sneak Attacking evil? It doesn't matter -- if we win
through them, it is because we were strong and crafty enough to utilize
them. The same could be said about Evil Portents -- we saw the change in
the environment and capitalized upon it.
The HDM, as I see it, is about making sure the Dragon stays strong and
independent of negative outside influences. Thus, it should really care
only about corruption (Shadowlands, Kolat, and Ninja cards), as they are
the only objective ways to prove someone is "evil", and they represent the
influence of dark forces in the clan.
Of course, Iyoku *is* a Kitsuki, and simple testimony plays a large part in
But, let it be known, nothing will stop me from claiming my revenge against
the Phoenix, and proving to the world the strength of the Dragon. Question
my honor, and one of us will be dead...
... and, as the Spirits proved, not even death is enough to stop one with
the force of will and the power of Ambition.
Dragon Clan Villain - Magistrate - Samurai
Son of a Scorpion - Scarier than the Shadowlands
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