Legend of the Five Rings Aftermath
Face is a vitally important aspect of samurai culture. It is intrinsic to the belief that samurai are exceptional persons, chosen by birth to serve the Empire in ways that mere peasants cannot. A samurai is expected to maintain self-discipline at all times, to control himself and to never show the sort of open emotions and out-of-control behavior that characterizes “lower people.” A samurai who cannot control his emotions is a samurai who cannot serve his lord with honor and trust, for his emotions will override his judgment and loyalty. Thus, maintaining dignity and self-control is vital to a samurai’s life.
The ability to maintain this self-control, never showing one’s true feelings, is referred to as maintaining one’s on or “face.” A samurai who maintains face is a samurai who cannot be manipulated, a samurai who can deceive his enemies, a samurai who serves his clan without fail. By contrast, a samurai who loses face, who loses self-control, shames both himself and, worse, his family and clan.
Face is a purely samurai concept, one that is not expected of peasants and other common folk. Maintaining face is sometimes compared to wearing a mask, a mask which must be kept on every hour of every day, concealing one’s true feelings beneath on. The Scorpion Clan is fond of remarking that their own physical masks are not concealment at all, but rather an admission of the truth: no samurai ever show their true selves. “All of us wear masks,” the Scorpion say, “the difference is, we of the Scorpion admit it.”