Legends of Rokugan
Scorpion and Bushido
Politics: The Ways of the Scorpion
The Code of Bushido
Unlike many Clans, the Scorpion Clan Families have very few differences in their views on the code of Bushido. All Scorpions are raised from childhood to have a contemptuous view of most aspects of Bushido, and to sneer at the rest of the Empire’s samurai for believing
in such a childish myth. In truth. the Scorpion see Bushido as little more than a convenient way of controlling and manipulating others. Even when they do revere certain aspects of the seven virtues, they do so under their own terms, according to the peculiar ethics of their Clan. There are exceptions, of course – the Scorpion live within a world which respects and admires Bushido, and this cannot help but rub off on them to some degree. Those Scorpion who do embrace Bushido, however – the so-called “junshin” – live difficult lives indeed.
The Scorpion attitude toward honor can be baffling and infuriating to other Clans, who often make the mistake of assuming the Scorpion do not have any ethics at all. This can lead to some very unpleasant incidents when they discover what the Scorpion do believe in. A fine example of this is found in a scene from Kakita Ryoku’s novel, “Winter,” in which a group of samurai debate what virtue is most important for samurai. The Scorpion guest, Bayushi Ujiro, proclaims the finest virtue to be loyalty. The other samurai present mock him with the words, “What does a Scorpion know about loyalty?” In response, Ujiro proposes a test of loyalty, asking each samurai present to give his yojimbo a command. The Scorpion goes first, turns to his bodyguard, and orders him, Simply, “Kill me.” The bodyguard instantly slays Ujiro and then falls on his own sword, leaving the rest of the stunned samurai eternally shamed by this demonstration of loyalty.
Gi (Honesty): If there is one virtue for which the
Scorpion feel utter contempt, it is probably Honesty. In
their view, only a fool tells the truth, especially in court.
In fact, the Scorpion never tire of pointing out that the
samurai of other Clans lie just as readily as they do the
only difference is that the others pretend they are
honorable despite their lies, while the Scorpion hold no
such illusions. Indeed, the Scorpion custom of wearing
masks is a part of this – in the Scorpion view, everyone
wears a mask at all times, but they are the only Clan
which admits it.
Yu (Courage): The Scorpion are not cowards, no
matter what others might think. Their samurai are just
as ready to die on command as those of any other Clan.
However, they do not feel the need to constantly prove
their courage or to boast of it, and sneer at Clans like
the Lion who must constantly display their courage for
others to see. Nor do they feel any shame in retreating
from a losing fight, or employing dishonorable tactics
which a Lion or Crab might condemn as “cowardly.” To
the Scorpion, service to the Clan trumps all, and they
are not afraid to dishonor themselves in order to fulfill
Jin (Compassion): For the Scorpion, compassion
is a weakness, pure and simple. Enemies who are left
alive are enemies who must be fought again, while a
dead enemy, as the infamous Bayushi Tangen pointed
out, can never be a threat again. As for the lower castes,
the Scorpion regard them as useful tools and little more.
It is foolish for the other Clans to waste their resources
and efforts by lavishing extra care on mere peasants.
Rei (Courtesy): The Scorpion see courtesy as a useful
means of protecting themselves and controlling their
enemies. It is not a virtue, in their view, but a weapon.
Courtesy protects their courtiers from the wrath of “honorable”
Clans like the Unicorn and Lion, and ensures
they can remain quite safe so long as they follow its
rules. Exploiting the rules of courtesy to their own ends,
whether by hiding underneath its protection or using it
to trip up their foes, is a favored Scorpion tactic.
Meyo (Honor): The Scorpion dismiss the very notion
of Honor. In their view, it is merely a superstition, a
quaint myth which other samurai cling to because they
lack the ability to survive without it. No true Scorpion
believes in Honor.
Makoto (Sincerity): The Scorpion find Sincerity,
like Courtesy, to be a useful tool. Since all properly
trained Scorpions are adept liars, the ability to project
sincerity in word and deed comes naturally to them,
and they especially enjoy the fact that this virtue makes
it so difficult to tell whether someone is lying or telling
the truth. It is hardly surprising that a Scorpion became
the Champion of Makoto. The intrinsic conflict
between Sincerity and Honesty, in the Scorpion view, is
just more proof that the code of Bushido is a nonsensical
Chugo (Duty and Loyalty): This is the only virtue
which the Scorpion truly accept and revere. All Scorpion
are taught from childhood that their loyalty and
obedience to the Clan must be absolute and without
question. It is through their devotion to Chugo that the
Scorpion can justify all their dishonorable actions, all
their murders, seductions, thefts, and blackmails. Violations
of loyalty are considered the one true sin of
Scorpion Society, and it is no coincidence that the Clan
has devised a truly horrendous punishment for those
who forsake Chugo: the legendary Traitor’s Grove.