Samurai, translated roughly as ‘those who serve the nobilty’ or ‘those who serve’, are the leading class in Rokugan. They are the pinnacle of the Celestial Order and whilst they are most famous for being warriors, the samurai are actually much more. There are three tiers to the Order, the nobility (those who make war), peasants (those who work) and clergy (those who pray). The samurai form the nobility. As with all nobility there are multiple ranks within the samurai class. Rokugan is at it’s heart a feudal society, with everyone pledged to the Emperor’s service. Beneath the Emperor are the Daimyo of the Great Clans, the Imperial Families and the Minor Clans. Beneath them are the daimyo of the Clan families and the provincial daimyo, to whom most samurai answer.
The Kuge are the ‘elite’ of the samurai caste. The Emperor, his immediate family, the daimyo of the Great Clans and the Imperial Families are all members of the Kuge. Though there are many samurai bearing the name ‘Doji’ in the Empire, only a handful are actually born into the Doji ruling house. The rest are adopted into the family and not part of the house. These samurai have their own family name and are referred to as ‘vassal families’.
The vast bulk of the samurai caste are members of the Buke, and never rise above that position. Originally formed of the farmers who gathered to fight in the first wars before the founding of the Empire, the Buke has become an hereditary class. The lesser sons and daughters of the Kuge are treated as Buke as they don’t stand to inherit their family’s lands.
These ‘half’ samurai are the lowest of the caste. It is made up of most of the ‘vassal’ families and ronin
A samurai has many duties, the first and foremost being to serve his lord and through this service, the Emperor. All samurai are expected to maintain their skills and be prepared to serve in whatever way is needed, and reflective of their school
A bushi is a warrior and the most common of the samurai in the Empire. Bushi are professional warriors and their lives revolve around maintaining their readiness for battle. Many bushi take on the role of magistrate to keep their skills honed in times of peace. More become yojimbo and the rest are stationed on border patrols or guard duty.
Courtiers are those samurai who are trained in the nuances of the Courts and politics. Though not as polished as a bushi at fighting, all courtiers are expected as samurai to be able to defend themselves. If a courtier wears his katana it is an open display of his ability to use it.
Shugenja are the priests and holy men of the samurai caste. All shugenja are able to commune with the elemental spirits and the kami, the spirits of the ancestors. Shugenja are memebers of the samurai caste, but are exempt from certain responsibilities. Though entitled to wear a daisho most shugenja make do with a simple tanto or wakiszhai