Brent: I've been reading Secrets of the Mantis, and I came upon a bit of a confusing thought: what do the Mantis do for Rokugan? I know that all of the other clans have a "duty" to the Empire, but did Toturi ever give the Mantis Clan a mission to accompany their new role in Rokugan?
Rich: At the moment, ironically, that's a major focus for the Mantis - determining their purpose. As for the role they fulfill, they act as traders, mercenaries, sailors, bounty hunters. Essentially they do a lot of the work that the other clans don't want to do and does not fall into the purview of the Scorpion. I'd think of them as similar to the Scorpion, but with a more traditional sense of honor and a stronger military bent. Further developing this role and finding a way to force the Empire to accept them will continue to be a goal for the Mantis Clan.
Brent: How traditional is the Mantis sense of honor? From what I have read, they have a drastically different opinion on many concepts, which makes me wonder if the Scorpion are not more "traditional" at times (and they seem to betray people less).
Rich: True, the Scorpion do have a veneer of respectability that the Mantis don't seem to share a lot of the time, but I think that might have a lot more to do with the Scorpion being such an old and well established Great Clan. Yoritomo and many of his followers embraced bushido, they just also felt that practicality and resourcefulness were just as important. In contrast, the Scorpion frequently seem to embrace bushido merely because it is an expedient way of manipulating others into acting in a predictable fashion. The fact that the Mantis, a clan that most others write off and uncouth and uncivilized, choose to embrace bushido at all speaks much of their strength of character. After all, when a Lion behaves honorably it's expected. When a Mantis behaves honorably you know he has chosen to do so.
Brent: Do you think that the Mantis will work with or against some families like the Yasuki (Crab of Crane; your pick!), the Daidoji, etc, who already have a place in this kind of "go-between," merchant-ish part of Rokugan?
Rich: I think they'd be more likely to associate with the Yasuki and the Daidoji than many other clans or families would, as they share philosophies, tactics, and motives. However, you can expect the Mantis would be alert and wary during all such dealings, as these families are also competitors in the markets they prize so dearly.
Brent: Sorry for more questions, but more importantly thank you again for answering me. Keep up the good writing...though would it kill you to get back to my friend Hachi? :)
Rich: Hachi will be back. 8)
Let it never be said that Rich Wulf is not a man of his word. - KB