Posts Tagged ‘big versus small’

Inconveniences and Obstacles

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

It seems there has been a problem with the steel in the ninja-tōThe short sword most associated with ninjas. Note that unlike the katana and wakizashi carried by samurai, the ninja-tō was straight rather than curved. It was roughly the length of a wakizashi.

The ninja-tō was also generally of inferior workmanship compared to the more expensive blades available to samurai. Even if a ninja could acquire a katana, it would be too long and unwieldy to carry on most missions; ninja generally relied on smaller weapons like the shuriken and manrikigusari, and on more deniable weapons like the kama.

“Ninja-ken” is another perfectly acceptable name for this weapon; it’s like the difference between saying “ninja blade” and “ninja sword” in English.The short sword most associated with ninjas. Note that unlike the katana and wakizashi carried by samurai, the ninja-t$#333; was straight rather than curved. Also known as a “ninja-ken”.s forged by a particular smith. Under certain conditions — very rare conditions, but still possible — the steel will shatter into ten thousand pieces, leaving the sword’s wielder with a bare hilt in his hand (and a very surprised and dismayed expression on his face — though probably not for very long).

I will need to go buy myself a new ninja-tō, as soon as I can.

Luckily, my duties for Clan Noriaibasha only involve using the kamaTechnically, a kama is simply a farming tool. It’s like a sickle, or a small, one-handed scythe. Since farmers make up a huge segment of feudal Japan’s population, there’s nothing suspicious about carrying one around. And ninjas like to avoid suspicion.

If you take a chain with a weight or hook on its end and attach that to a kama, you’ve got a kusarigama… much more useful as a weapon, but also obviously a ninja weapon, instead of a farming tool.A farming tool, like a sickle or a small, one-handed scythe. Commonly used by ninjas because they arouse no suspicion – farmers are everywhere, after all., manrikigusariA chain weapon with weights at both ends, which can be used for striking or entangling.A ninja weapon consisting of a length of chain with stuff at one or both ends. Generally has weights at both ends, but occasionally one weight will be replaced by a hook. The weapon can be used for entangling (by wrapping a weight around an enemy’s limb) or for a direct strike with one of the weights. It can also be used to entangle an enemy’s weapon with one end, then strike the enemy’s body with the weight on the other end. They hate that.

When the chain has one end attached to a kama, it’s known as a kusari-gama. (Kusari means “chain”; when it’s the second item in a compound word, it becomes -gusari. Similarly, kama becomes -gama in compounds.)
, and kusarigamaA common ninja weapon: a one-handed scythe/sickle with a length of chain attached to the handle. The chain has either a hook or weight on the end of it.A common ninja weapon: a one-handed scythe/sickle with a length of chain attached to the handle. The chain has either a grappling hook or a weight attached to the end.

The scythe/sickle part alone is a kama, and is a common farming tool. With the chain attached, it’s pretty obviously a weapon, and would be treated as such by any authorities one might encounter.
. I can wait a few days before I need to replace my sword.

Yesterday, we tested a potential new warrior. The Keitai Team is running low on fighters lately. Young Akinori has left the clan to seek his fortune among the upstarts of Ōmi Province. This is a normal course for a young, motivated warrior like him. Just as it made sense for me to move to a larger, older clan like Noriaibasha, it makes sense for him to have gone to a small, new upstart. But we were low on fighters even before he left, and so it would be nice to acquire new ones. Sadly, yesterday’s prospect wasn’t skilled enough.

I’ve been slaying Mōjin fighters in Keishutsu as fast as I can, but there are a huge number of them. I think I’ve got them almost all destroyed by now; later today, I hope to have Jun-ichirō the scout do another pass to make sure they’re all gone. But I just got a message from Kīchi, one of the Tendai monks in charge of the Teitōken campaign. It seems the generals and nobles have noted some potential problems with our strategies in Kurabero-no-Hako and even in Keishutsu. He would like to meet with me and go over our plans.

*sigh* If only they’d noticed these problems before I was nearly done in Keishutsu…

I Thought I Would Be “Just a Cog”, But…

Friday, October 1st, 2010

I have just come from a meeting with Risako, a priestess of the Shoshū sect, who will be guiding the first stages of the upcoming Kanezukai campaign. She is very pleasant to talk to, and her ideas on Harmony align well with my own. I suspect we may well become friends, at least within the castle walls.

And a very ironic thing happened: In small upstart clans, we ninjas are often told, “With so few people, each one of you will have the chance to make a real difference in the clan’s actions.” But at Clan Nettobuku and Clan Tenya, my advice on tactics was ignored. By the time I was ready to leave the world of small clans behind, the idea of not having any say in my clan’s actions was no drawback; I already had no say, so I would be losing nothing.

How amazing, then, to see what happened in my meeting with Risako: Her plan for the first stage of the campaign involved using the Bright Square technique for certain city and village operations. I mentioned that I don’t like Bright Square much, as it tends to place great hardships on the peasants in the occupied area. The Floating Square technique serves our army’s purpose just as well, without hurting the peasants so much.

And Risako agreed, and said she would change the attack plan.

Then Akinori, whose weapons locker is near Risako’s altar, overheard. He is working on the plans that will guide many of the clan’s strategies for the next few years, and noted that there has been some question of which technique to use. He says that his recommendation is also for the Floating Square, and he has some standard kataA sequence of moves in martial arts, performed as a practice exercise to train the fighter’s muscle memory and reflexes in preparation for real combat. May be anywhere from a brief, 15-second movement to a full sequence that takes five minutes or more to complete. Usually solitary, but there are some two-person kata.

You may wish to see some videos of standard karate katas.A sequence of fighting moves used as a practice technique in martial arts. for use in that tactic. All three of us are agreed: Akinori’s Floating Square kata will be part of the Kanezukai campaign.

And Akinori would like me to see if I can improve his kata.

So, in the course of a single meeting, I have just had a real, distinctive effect on the tactics the clan will be using in an upcoming campaign — and soon, I may have an effect on the kata we use in all our operations! The kind of influence that I had given up all hope of wielding has just been placed in my hands.

Trouble in the Shrine, and Busy Days at the Castle

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

I awoke this morning to find the shimenawa

As usual, Wikipedia has more information.A consecrated rope used to wrap and delimit holy ground in Shintoism. at Amaterasu’s shrine broken, and the innards of the shrine scattered and disrupted. I shall have to stay awake some night soon, and do battle with the oniA supernatural creature. Usually translated into English simply as “demon”, but oni combine aspects of demons and ogres. Like Western demons, they have horns on their head and colored skin (generally red or blue). They also have sharp teeth, which may be fangs or tusks. Like ogres, they live in mountains and wilderness places, and are generally depicted as being larger than human scale (generally about 8-12 feet tall). They usually carry long clubs with studded iron on the striking end, and are sometimes dressed in animal-skin loincloths.Often translated as “demon”, but also similar to an ogre: Humanoid, generally 8-12 feet tall, with red or blue skin, horns on its head, fangs or tusks, and a large, iron-shod club. Usually lives in mountains and wilderness.. This will not be an enjoyable experience, even for one who thrives on combat, as I do.

In the meantime, I am learning the ways of Clan Noriaibasha. There are a great many meetings, for the clan’s people need to coordinate their activities. Such a large clan can prosecute multiple campaigns simultaneously, and individual warriors split their time between the various campaigns. So unlike Clan Tenya, where I spent all my time clearing trails and supply lines to places like Kotobasatsuki, here I am constantly switching from one task to another.

And going to meetings to discuss each campaign I’m involved in.

Right now, the Rōba campaign has been taking much of my time, as I gut our enemies with my kamaTechnically, a kama is simply a farming tool. It’s like a sickle, or a small, one-handed scythe. Since farmers make up a huge segment of feudal Japan’s population, there’s nothing suspicious about carrying one around. And ninjas like to avoid suspicion.

If you take a chain with a weight or hook on its end and attach that to a kama, you’ve got a kusarigama… much more useful as a weapon, but also obviously a ninja weapon, instead of a farming tool.A farming tool, like a sickle or a small, one-handed scythe. Commonly used by ninjas because they arouse no suspicion – farmers are everywhere, after all. alone. But I have also recently been attached to the San-Nichikan campaign… and, in a meeting with Jōji, who is in charge of the Kirin project, I have learned more about the clan’s plans for the Kirin-dō kata that I have inherited from the departed mercenary.

There will be much for me to do. In the days to come, I certainly must describe these campaigns and the people of the clan.

But first, I must survive my encounter with the oni.

Differences Between Noriaibasha and Smaller Clans

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

At Clan Iwinaga, a campaign would generally last 8 to 10 weeks. Maybe 12. Clan Nettobuku planned everything in two-week campaigns — though, admittedly, they took far less territory in any single campaign. However, Clan Noriaibasha never lets any campaign be less than six months long. Even if it results in taking no more than a single village.

Perhaps this is because of the large numbers of priests and nobles associated with any campaign. In Clan Tenya, we didn’t even have any priests until shortly before I left. This made it very easy for us to lose sight of the ways of Harmony and Righteousness. At Noriaibasha… I am currently involved in two campaigns. Each one seems to have more priests, of both the Nichiren and Tendai orders, than warriors.

But these things are not necessarily bad, as long as we have enough warriors to take the desired territories. Which we do.

One thing that I do find a bit worse: At Clan Tenya, I was in frequent contact with peasants and townspeople — the people most affected by our operations. Here at Noriaibasha, I’m not sure that I will ever have such casual conversation with the populace.

It is a price I can pay.

Also, at Noriaibasha, it is clear that I will have no input into the overall strategies of the operations I’m associated with. This is of little importance, however, because I found that even at the smaller clans, my input was frequently disregarded by the nobles anyway. At least here, they are honest about the fact that I will have few or no leadership opportunities.

My First Days at Noriaibasha

Wednesday, September 1st, 2010

I have now done three days with the armies of Clan Noriaibasha. The pace of life in such a huge clan is very different from that with a small, fresh clan like Tenya or Nettobuku. Even their castle is so large that I know I will never learn the names and faces of all the people in it… and this is but one of the many castles that Clan Noriaibasha has built.

They tell me it will be some time before the armorers can issue me a wakizashiThe shorter of the two gracefully curved swords that a samurai carries. Much like the longer katana in shape and style, except short enough to be a one-handed, secondary blade. The wakizashi is effectively the katana’s “baby brother”.

Note that the ninja-tō, the sword most often carried by ninjas, is not a wakizashi. It’s about the same length, but straight rather than curved — and generally of inferior workmanship, as ninjas couldn’t afford the materials or smiths that samurai had access to.The shorter sword of the two that a samurai carries; the “baby brother” of the longer katana.. In the meantime, I perform what missions I can with my kamaTechnically, a kama is simply a farming tool. It’s like a sickle, or a small, one-handed scythe. Since farmers make up a huge segment of feudal Japan’s population, there’s nothing suspicious about carrying one around. And ninjas like to avoid suspicion.

If you take a chain with a weight or hook on its end and attach that to a kama, you’ve got a kusarigama… much more useful as a weapon, but also obviously a ninja weapon, instead of a farming tool.A farming tool, like a sickle or a small, one-handed scythe. Commonly used by ninjas because they arouse no suspicion – farmers are everywhere, after all. — though this clan does not think in terms of missions that take a few hours or a day, so much as in terms of entire campaigns that take many months. One such campaign is still taking shape, and will involve action in Settsu Province as well as some coordination with Clan Zenbutsura. There is a meeting tomorrow to discuss strategy for this campaign, which I am ordered to attend.

Indeed, there are a great many meetings at Clan Noriaibasha. This is no surprise, but it does bear some mention, as it is a great difference from the small upstarts I’m used to. This afternoon, for example, I spent more time in one single meeting than I would have in an entire week at Clan Tenya or Clan Nettobuku.

That meeting was to plan the strategy against a group called the Narisumashi. I have already been dispatched to take down some of their minor members, using my kama. I did so this afternoon, then reported back to my captain, a man named Kento. He is generally satisfied with my performance, but says I should talk to another fighter named Akinori about the Narisumashi’s tactics, and I should check with the priestess Sachi to ensure that I am proceeding in righteousness and harmony.

We never checked in with such priestesses at Clan Tenya. We didn’t even have any such, until a few days before I left the clan. (Even then, her view of the Way seemed… cloudy and subject to change. But I have no wish to speak ill of others’ skills.)

Tomorrow, I will speak with Akinori and with Sachi. And soon, I will gain access to the armory and be issued a wakizashi, and become a more useful member of Clan Noriaibasha.