Legends of Rokugan
Ikoma and Bushido
THE IKOMA PHILOSOPHY
AND THE TENETS OF BUSHIDO
The Ikoma are a Family of contradictions when it comes to the
code of Bushido. The vast majority of them are honorable warriors
who have much in common with their Akodo and Matsu
cousins. They embrace the code as any Lion would expect.
There is a small subset of the older generations, however, who
look upon Bushido with some degree of annoyance, viewing it
as an unnecessary restriction that prevents them from bringing
the full force of their talents to bear for their Clan. They keep
their reservations to themselves, however; although they are
very much like their great ancestor, the warrior Ikoma, they
know that there is little place within the Clan for a philosophy
such as theirs.
Gi (Honesty) – The Ikoma embrace honesty for a number
of reasons. First and foremost, as historians, they value the
truth for its role in preserving an accurate historical record.
Other Clans may delude themselves with lies and half-truths,
but there is a reason that the Ikoma histories are so highly
respected in the Empire, and that is because the Ikoma record
nothing save for the absolute truth as they see it.
Yu (Courage) – The Ikoma do not know fear. They are. as
they like to point out, descended from one of the greatest warriors
who ever lived, one who was unafraid even to fight the
Kami Akodo in a street brawl. An Ikoma does not fear his enemies,
because they cannot possibly anticipate what he will
do or say, and they will therefore always be at a disadvantage.
Fear is for those who find the possible outcomes of any situation
unacceptable. To the Ikoma, there are no unacceptable
outcomes; every possibility is an opportunity waiting to be exploited.
Jin (Compassion) – The Ikoma are surprisingly compassionate
for a Family that consists of fearless warriors, dispassionate
historians, and wily courtiers. This is not necessarily because
they embrace the concept wholeheartedly, as the Akodo do,
but more because they consider poor treatment of their subordinates
to be an inefficient use of resources. Enemies and
rivals are treated with mercy because doing so places them at
a disadvantage, ensuring that they can be more easily manipulated
in the future.
Rei (Courtesy) – The Ikoma often find themselves serving
as the Lion Clan’s representatives in court, and in the public
eye in general. For this reason, they must practice the tenet of
courtesy if they are to fulfill their duty adequately. Fortunately
for them, their traditional role as historians and heralds has
given them the experience necessary to be successful in their
assigned tasks. The Ikoma are by and large a gregarious Family,
far more so than the other Lion Families. Their belief is that
fulfilling their duties requires them to forge alliances, and they
can best make new allies by treating others with respect and
consideration. From such gestures are the seeds of military alliances
Meyo (Honor) – Everything the Ikoma do, they do for the
honor of the Lion Clan. Occasionally this requires them to
make decisions of dubious ethical or moral character. But they
always keep their ultimate goal of service to the Lion in mind,
and it protects them from inadvertently becoming a disgrace to
themselves and their Clan.
History has offered no greater lesson to the Ikoma than the
experience of the Crane Harriers, who served a similar purpose
for the Crane Clan but lost their way and fell into dishonor and
shame. The Ikoma have never allowed themselves to fall as far
as the Harriers did, for in addition to considering their Clan’s
honor, they also consider their personal honor and how the
ancestors who watch their every move will judge them. While
the occasional Ikoma is willing to sacrifice a fraction of his
honor for a greater gain for the Lion, none are willing to throw
their honor away entirely. It is too precious by far for such a
sacrifice, and no true Lion lord would ever ask that of them.
Makoto (Sincerity) – Because of their role as the Lion’s voice
in the courts, The Ikoma have a somewhat flexible view of the
tenet of sincerity. They are generally honest. but they do not
always wear their hearts on their sleeves, so to speak. Rather,
their ability to express a wide variety of emotions, perfected
through centuries of work as warrior heralds for the Lion
armies. allows them to mask their true feelings and intentions
from others with nothing more than a quick expression.
This is the only thing that has allowed the Lion to maintain
their defenses in court against Clans with larger and more
skilled contingents of courtiers. While this can be seen by
some as a failure to adhere strictly to the code of Bushido, it
is done in favor of honoring another, more important tenet:
duty. Because of this, the other Lion Families do not judge the
Ikoma for the sacrifices required to perform their duties.
Chugo (Duty) – The Ikoma do not waver in their dedication
to their duty. They do whatever is asked for them, no matter the
cost or the danger to themselves. They trust that they will not
be asked to do anything that is not absolutely necessary/y, and so
they arc willing to do whatever is asked without question.