The Subtlety of the Court was written by Otomo Madoko in 689 upon a dare by a Lion diplomat to compare the Book of Sun Tao to court politics. Madoko recognized the parallels between a bushi on a battlefield and a courtier in the midst of court and wrote an examination on the battlefields that were the courts of Rokugan. [1]

Original Writings Edit

Like the ronin general Sun Tao who inspired the work, Otomo Madoko created seven copies of the writing. They became minor nemuranai, and whoever studied one of these original manuscripts rapidly became a skilled courtier, so it was considered an essential guide to courtly life. An original copy was owned by Otomo Banu. The other copies had passed through several owners. [2]

Notable Quotes Edit

  • “Only the ignorant fight to win. The enlightened win before they fight.” [3]
  • “True knowledge is in knowing to obsme heaven without stepping outside.” [3]
  • “To succeed a general must be unfathomable.” [3]
  • “If you can go no further, change. You will get through.” [3]
  • “Deadly ground is where only the quick survive. when on deadly ground fight.” [3]
  • “The victorious general strikes while the enemy plans.” [3]
  • “The superior general attacks his enemy's alliances.” [3]
  • “Victory can be seen, but never forced.” [3]
  • “The competent general attacks an enemy's army.” [3]
  • “A desperate general besieges an enemy's city.” [3]
  • “If your amy is larger, fight. If it is smaller, keep your distance until opportunity strikes. If your army is much smaller, flee and survive” [4]
  • “A good general chooses the right officers and lets the momentum of the army do its work.” [4]
  • “Victory is never repetitious.” [4]
  • “What kills the enemy is anger.” [4]
  • “Those who render their enemy helpless without combat are triumphant.” [4]
  • “If your enemy is meeting with potential allies, make them a better offer, even if they have nothing to offer in return.” [5]
  • “A skilled politician surrounds herself with experts and informants, seeking their advice in all things.” [6]
  • “Trust and respect your allies, but never become dependent upon them. That leads only to failure.” [7]
  • “War is the continuation of politics by other means.” [8]


  1. Legend of the Five Rings : Third Edition p. 14
  2. Winter Court: Kyuden Asako, p. 73
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7 3.8 3.9 Winter Court:Kyuden Asako, p. 56
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Winter Court:Kyuden Asako, p. 57
  5. Otomo Motoshi (An Oni's Fury flavor)
  6. Diplomatic Apprentice (A Perfect Cut flavor)
  7. Rhetoric (Diamond flavor)
  8. Sword and Fan, p. 9

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