Honor and Shame in The Blossoms are Falling

So I’ve been reading through the book, and I’m having trouble visualizing how certain aspects of these two emotional stats would work in game. Namely, it is the mechanic of Honor Debts that confuse me.

Flavor wise they are cool and I understand them. “Kato,” the lord said. “You’re imbalance saddens me, but perhaps there is yet hope. Minamoto-sama’s army marches on Heijo. Hold the city in my name and you may yet be redeemed.”

The part that’s confusing me is how abstract mechanical rules like Honor and Shame exponents are perceived by characters in game. For example, what if the act that drove Kato’s Shame higher than his Honor was something his lord could not have known about? Some secret dalliance perhaps.

Would Kato simply live with his higher Shame? Are lords supposed to have some kind of innate “honor sense”? Should I as the GM narrate some way for the lord to find out?

Thanks in advance for any help.

Are you playing Blossoms right now?

Not as yet sadly. The main thing standing in my way is a lack of players. I just finished reading the book cover to cover and it looks f*cking awesome.

Also, I just noticed Blossoms has it’s own category in the “Revised Edition” section. Should I move this post there?

…crickets. Will I labor forever without knowing?

Typically, unless your question is grounded in the specifics of your game, it won’t get much response, especially not from abzu.

If you’re lacking players, check out nearbygamers (DOT) com. There’s loads of people there. I wish you luck.

Once you’re a shameful soul, everyone knows. There’s no hiding it — even if they don’t know exactly what brought you to this condition.

Thanks Luke.

Hi Oren,

You know how BW has Greed, Grief, Hate, and these are basically magical aspects of the character? Here, Honor and Shame take up the same role.

Now, there’s some fun stuff you can play with that fits with a lot of Japanese samurai stories where maybe everyone KNOWS someone is bad business, but due to social hierarchy, no one can say or do anything about it without incurring Shame themselves…

In which case, the other mechanic to bring in is Reputations. Someone could have a high Shame and “Known in 8 Provinces for never swaying from the Way 2D” reputation…


Also, note that quite a few actions potentially provide Honor and Shame tests at the same time. For instance, doing something despicable and shameful because your Lord demands it would earn you tests toward both Honor and Shame.

So while a character with high Honor or Shame would radiate those qualities so that others can sense them, high Shame doesn’t necessarily indicate that one is despicable or evil (though it could). Instead, it reflects a character’s propensity to shockingly/violently break with established social protocol.

Totally. I understand how the Honor and Shame attributes work, and how their related to Greed/Grief/Hate. The part that was confusing me was that previous emotional attributes had always been internal, “behind the curtain” if you will, mechanics. They could inform, motivate, or force a character’s action (It must be mine!), but they always happened on the inside. The part that confused me was how these internal mechanics seemed to manifest externally with the honor debt mechanic. I wasn’t sure if the giving out of an honor debt was supposed to happen in response to a specific action undertaken by the Bushi, or if the state of one’s soul is meant to be worn on the sleeve.

Luke answered the question quite nicely.