Courtiers are the politicians and higher civil servants of Rokugan. They are often diplomats, sent by a clan or a family to another clan, family or even the Emperors court. Some can be sent officially as ambassadors or to study a technique or an art within another part of the Empire, or to attempt to foster trade and commerce with others for the benefit of their Clan. Some are simply administrators, attendants, ministers or civil servants in one of the many courts. 
Mastering power Edit
A member of the court did not inherit land from his position. Without land, he had no access to real resources, and he must trade political favors for money. The members of the Imperial Court had immediate access to the Emperor's ear, so they should learn how to manipulate opportunities in his favor.  The courtiers of lesser courts had few chances to improve and gain honor for their families. 
Honored Hostages Edit
Some courtiers were used as hostages. A young samurai would be sent by his daimyo to an ally or even rival court as a sign of good faith. They were respected and treated as honored guests and even trained and raised as true members of the "hosting" family. There was honor in being a hostage, as one was then the living guarantee of the word given by his clan or family to another. 
Courtiers are often refined people, with wide general knowledges, a high sense of Etiquette and of the various intrigues of court politics. They master various arts and always act with sophistication. In their daily work, courtiers tend to wear the shorter wakizashi, rather than the katana - which is considered to be too deadly to carry around important nobles. Because they evolve in the environment of Rokugan's highest social class and because they must make the best impression possible, they always wear rich clothes and use the most beautiful objects. Even though these are actually often provided by their Clan or Family, it gives the impression that they are wealthy individuals. This is not always true, but Courtiers that have used their station to amass personal wealth are unfortunately not uncommon. 
Leading Courtiers Edit
Some of the clans of Rokugan have mastered the work of the court as an art form. The Crane Clan foremost of these clans, particularly the Doji family, have even invented many of the various courtier techniques over the past centuries. The Scorpion Clan are the closest rivals to the Crane, in their own treacherous way, and of course the Otomo Imperial family have been the official regulators of the Emperor's court for many centuries. The Spider Clan has recently begun to master the art of the Courts in order to get as much influence as possible and to become a recognized clan. Despite all odds, the Spider have proven themselves quite adept within the courts, working in a way none too dissimilar to the Scorpion.
Some courtiers view their station as their life's calling, fully devoting themselves to the Courts. Others see it as a burden, an annoying task which must still be fulfilled for the greater good of their Clan or of the Empire. Some of them, eventually, see the whole Rokugani politics as a gigantic chess game, where other courtiers are nothing more than pawns, whose intensions are soley to be used for their amusement.
The art of the Courts is a difficult one, but also one where deception is often essential. More than one Courtier has had to choose between his Honor and his Duty. The line is thin between outright lies, deceit, and the "sincere" answer does not necessarily reveal the entire truth. Some excel at this game naturally, while others are participants by their birthright. In any case, winning the favour of a Court, especially the Imperial one, is often a short term experience, and the "allies" of one day can easily turn upon the Courtier the moment a weakness is available. 
Relations with other stations Edit
Some bushi tend to despise the courtiers for appearing to seek a safer environment to "serve their clan" while bushi risk their lives. Courtiers know better. The wrong word at the wrong time, or even a sigh, can cause great insult and cost a courtier their life or their honour. As a Crane courtier once said: "A winter court dinner in Toshi Ranbo can be just as deadly as a battlefield in front of the Kaiu Wall". 
On the other hand, most Shugenja are at ease with Courtiers as both stations involve great study and knowledge and because both usually prefer a peaceful approach to various situations rather than the violent one.
Monks tend to prefer austerity and an ascetic life to the luxury often surrounding the Courtiers. However, both are students of culture as well as of the workings of the human mind. This explains why some Monks have been known to advise Courtiers in their work. These Courtiers, however, must be prepared to endure the criticism of their life style and the constant riddles typical of the monk's path.
Courtiers relations with heimin and eta are purely of a practical nature, of course. Most courtiers will simply treat such beings as way beneath their station. Like most samurai, though, courtiers will of course make an exception for geishas and for some highly skilled specialised artisans. But in both cases, this is more an acknowledgement of their practical, economic and social value rather than any sense of equality, which would go against the Celestial order that courtiers uphold.
Courtier of Rokugan Edit
See also Edit
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