L5r: Legend of the Five Rings Wiki

Emerald Magistrates

A magistrate was a person tasked with enforcing the laws of a province, family, clan, or the empire as a whole. [1]

Types of Magistrates[]

In Rokugan, there were three distinct types of Magistrates. Clan magistrates upheld the laws of their specific clan. Emerald Magistrates upheld imperial law and Jade Magistrates specifically handled magic-related cases throughout Rokugan. Each of the different kinds of magistrates answered directly to different offices, though all were tasked with enforcing the laws within their jurisdiction.

Clan Magistrates[]

Clan magistrates generally had defined duties that were similar from clan to clan. Higher ranking magistrates served as judges and as overseers of their lower ranking magistrates. Magistrates might be assigned to a specific area or city, or they might travel a circuit within their clan's lands, dispensing justice and investigating crimes where needed.

Emerald Magistrates[]

For further information on this section, please see Emerald Magistrate

Emerald Magistrates adjuducated the Emperor's laws. They had broad powers to achieve this goal, including the standard powers to recruit assistance and to hold court common to all magistrates, but their powers were only applicable to cases where capital offenses had been committed or in multi clan situations. The Emerald Magistrates were under the aegis of the Emerald Champion and therefore the Emperor himself.

Jade Magistrates[]

For further information on this section, please see Jade Magistrate

Jade Magistrates were the invesigators under the Jade Champion. They were tasked with crimes involving magic and the arcane. Specifically, the Jade Magistrates were some of the foremost hunters of maho-tsukai in Rokugan. Their primary goal was the eradication of blood magic throughout the empire.

Magisterial Structure and Organization[]

Chief Magistrates[]

The Chief Magistrates of a province, family, or clan reported directly to the samurai in charge of their assigned territory (the daimyo of the province or family, or the Champion of the clan). These magistrates had more junior magistrates assigned to them to deal with matters on smaller levels, though the Chief Magistrates were generally the only ones with the power to preside as judge over a court. For instance, provincial Chief Magistrates were under the command of family Chief Magistrates, and theywere in turn under the command of the clan's Chief Magistrate. A magistrate's subordinates often swore fealty to the magistrate directly, to avoid any conflicts of interests with the lords of their assigned areas.

The Emerald and Jade Magistrates had a similar structure to the clan magistrates, though they did not answer to local (or even clan) leadership. Their Chief Magistrates reported directly to the Emerald or Jade Champions, respectively. Their business involved only imperial crimes, and as such, local authorities did not have purview over their affairs. Conversely, since the duties of these imperial magistrates involved only imperial crimes, they could not interfere with local issues.

Traveling Magistrates[]

A Traveling Magistrate

Lower ranking magistrates, both Imperial and clan, did not have a specific area assigned to them. Instead, they traveled through assigned swathes of territory, dispensing justice where it was needed. Such magistrates often had duties that were more social than legal in nature, such as presiding over festivals, overseeing duels, and watching over the roads.



Yoriki were the chief assistants to magistrates, and would perform much of the leg work for their lords such as finding and interviewing witnesses, handling and questioning prisoners as well as overseeing doshin. A Yoriki had no right to render judgements however, and did not have the same levels of diplomatic immunity that a magistrate would.

Yoriki would normally swear fealty to the magistrate they served, and could be from a different clan if the magistrate required a skill-set more common to that clan.

A Yoriki stationed on a village would also be charged with inspecting travel papers, and anyone travelling through would be expected to inform the resident Yoriki of their intent and destination.[2]



Doshin were the lowest ranked people serving magistrates, and were drawn up from the peasant class. Their position was easily identifiable by their dress and their use of the jitte. They would serve under a specific yoriki, for whom they patroled their assigned areas.[3]

They were often skilled at intimidation, and groups of doshin were generally effective deterents to crime. In theory, doshin had the power to arrest, detain, and question anyone they suspect of a crime, but in reality a suspect of much higher rank than the doshin would be treated with respect due his station. That was if the doshin did not simply inform his superior of his suspicions, thereby avoiding a public scene entirely.


Below the doshin were the deputies. Deputies were not samurai, but were peasants employed by doshin as assistants or informants, often keeping their employment secret. Without specific authorization from their superiors, deputies only had the power to end or prevent violence, and could not effect law enforcement in any other way.



Budoka were the deputies to the doshin. Doshin was the lowest level of law enforcement officer in Rokugan, being below a yoriki or a Magistrate's deputy. Pressed into service from the heimin class by the doshin, budoka had authority was over minor crimes among the eta.

Magistrate Schools[]

Though there were certain schools across Rokugan designed specifically to train magistrates, not every magistrate in service to clan or Emperor had trained specifically to serve in this capacity. A position as magistrate in any capacity was an appointment that could be granted to any samurai.

Clan School Duty
Crab Clan Kuni Witch Hunter Combat the taint.
Crane Clan Doji Magistrate Police Crane Clan lands.
Dragon Clan Kitsuki Justicar Investigate crime.
Lion Clan
Mantis Clan Tsuruchi Bounty Hunter
Tsuruchi Magistrate
Phoenix Clan Asako Inquisitor Combat the taint and maho-tsukai.
Scorpion Clan Kuroiban Combat maho-tsukai.
Unicorn Clan Shinjo Magistrate
Imperial Positions Jade Magistrate Combat the taint and maho-tsukai.
Emerald Magistrate Police the Empire.
Seppun Magistrate
Student of the Ruby Dojo

Magistrate Appointments[]

Appointments to magistrate positions came from the authority to whom the new magistrate would answer. Emerald Magistrates were appointed by the Emperor himself, though the Emerald Champion could occasionally suggest a name for an opening. Jade Magistrates were appointed directly by the Jade Champion although in times where the office of Jade Champion had been unoccupied, shugenja within the Emerald Magistrates largely performed the role of the Jade Magistrates. Clan magistrates were appointed by the Champion of a clan or the daimyo of one of its families.

Symbols of the Magistrate[]

The symbol of office for Emerald Magistrates was a jade sphere, four inches in diameter. Magistrates often emblazoned their orb with their own mon and the mon of the Emerald Champion etched on the surface. The jade globe was a symbol of a magistrate's authority. The orb could also conveniently served as a gavel when struck against a table. Clan magistrates used a variety of symbols, but the most common was the mon of their lord in jade.

Yoriki and doshin carried a jitte as the symbol of their authority. The jitte was also very useful for stopping fights by disarming aggressors. Traveling magistrates who had worked their way up to their position often continue to carry their original jitte.

Income of the Magistrates[]

All those who enforced the laws of the Emperor and his lands received a salary for their work and dedication. Emerald and Jade Magistrates were paid through the offices of their respective Champions, and clan magistrates were paid either from the coffers of their family or clan. Yoriki, doshin and deputies were paid directly by the magistrates for whom they worked. Because of this, a magistrate's pay might seem high to some, but the magistrate incurred a great deal of expense in keeping his own staff paid.

Magisterial officers also generally expected some supplement to their income in the form of gifts from the daimyo of their province. Such gifts were seen as rewards for diligent service to the daimyo's lands. As material goods should not be able to sway an officer from his duties, these gifts were not seen as bribes. Magisterial officers who were convicted of taking rewards for anything other than diligent service, however, received only a slow, shameful death as punishment.

See Also[]

External Links[]


  1. Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 38
  2. GM's Survival Guide, p. 87
  3. Roleplaying in the Emerald Empire, p. 39

This article is a stub. That means that it has been started, but is incomplete. You can help by adding to the information here.