Kindred of the East by Mors Rattus
For it is unobtrusive enough to mind its manners.Original SA post Kindred of the East: For it is unobtrusive enough to mind its manners.
Kindred of the East is the vampire book from White Wolf's Year of the Lotus, which focused on Asia in the World of Darkness. Asia's vampires are not descended from Caine, unlike all other vampires in the world (including African ones), and are special demon-ghost-vampires. Asia in general is special , but only vampires got an entirely new ruleset. They are the Kuei-Jin - and that name itself is rather dumb. But we're just doing the introduction today.
Asia, to the magical critters of Asia, is the Middle Kingdom. This is a rough translation of one of China's many names, Zhongguo (or Chung-kuo, or Jhongguou), which could also be translated as 'Central Kingdom'. It makes some sense for China, since in the Chinese perspective they were the center of the world. It doesn't work too well embracing the whole of Asia - especially because they look at the rest of the world as 'the West', where the China that called itself this referred to the people of the East, West, North and South of them. But okay, moving on.
The magical creatures of Asia are the shen , a Chinese word meaning spirit, god, awareness or consciousness. This is, at least, a word that gets loaned around East Asian languages a lot. But okay, sure, we'll use that term. It encompasses the kuei-jin, the hengeyokai (Asian shifters), sorcerers, ghsots, faeries...anyway, they differ from "the West" because they see themselves as a collective as well as seperate. Everyone talks to everyone else. They also don't really hide so much.
Kindred of the East posted:
Unlike supernaturals in the West, shen take relatively fewer precautions against discovery. The supernatural here has less need of Masquerades and Veils, for it is unobtrusive enough to mind its manners. Conversely, the Middle Kingdom's mortals, as a rule, have learned to ask fewer questions. Let the Night People walk their road, the amahs say, and they will let you walk yours - unless joss frowns on you.
'Amah' is a word that has multiple possible meanings; it is the title of a Taoist goddess (the Queen Mother of the West, Xi Wangmu) during the Tang dynasty, it is a word that refers to maids (and this is the most common usage around East Asia, to the point that it has actually been adopted as a loan word in several European language, albeit via India where it is 'ayah') and in modern Mandarin Chinese, it refers to the maternal grandmother.
I think that last is the one they want.
And joss? Joss is not originally a Chinese word. It is a corruption of the Portugeuse derivation of the Latin 'deus.' and refers to Chinese household gods. Colloquially, it can also refer to luck. It is a word used in China and Hong Kong, at least! Incidentally, I am not a Chinese scholar. I am interested in the histpry of East ASia and its cultures, but my research for this comes entirely from about fifteen minutes on Google and Wikipedia. I'd love to know if the character on the cover actually means anything but would be unsurprised if it doesn't.
Anyway, moving on. The Umbra and Underworld are not called that - they are the Yang and Yin Worlds, respectively. Oh, and some Shinto adherents go to the Yang world upon death. (Is that a thing in oWoD?) Anyway, the Gauntlet is the Wall, blah blah blah. The shen believe in a Great Cycle in which this is the Fifth Age and we are nearing the Sixth Age. And the omens are:
Kindred of the East posted:
Have the Five Directions not been overrun with devils from the West? Did these devils not corrupt the soil with Yellow Winds and trick the people into imbibing poisonous elixirs? Did not the Shadow Dragon breathe plague-fires over Hiroshima and the Ghost Phoenix blossom into life over Nagasaki days later? And did not the Thousand Scarlet Devils rudely cease to acknowledge the Great Cycle itself, mocking renaming the Age "Year Zero"?
And then the August Personage of Jade will leave its throne and the Demon Emperor will rule the Sixth Age. And then that'll end, and basically they're fatalists. All of them. And Yin and Yang are represented by the Ebon Dragon and Scarlet Queen and all energyi s Chi and this is really not very well explained. Chi is everything - it's Gnosis, it's Quintessence, it's Glamour or Yugen (the hell is Yugen?), it's Pathos. It comes in Yin Chi (which is dark and chaotic) and Yang Chi (which is dynamic and of life), The Kuei-Jin do not produce their own chi and must steal it.
Anyway, you should begin to understand why this is really kind of terrible. If you can't, let me summarize. First, Asia runs on an entirely different metaphysical system than the entire rest of the world . This system is actually true , as we will see over the course of the book. Asian supernaturals are inherently better than non-Asian supernaturals, because they are capable of sitting down and talking to each other, if not quite working together, and acknowledge each other as a common heritage. Of course this ignores all racism and national tensions in Asia, as we'll soon see. Oh, and the average Asian believes in and knows about the supernatural and just doesn't bother it and lets it do what it wants.
Including the Communist Party of China. I mean, they clearly are Chinese, they therefore clearly know these things exist. They just, apparently, choose to ignore them by and large, because I'm pretty sure that China could wipe these critters out if they wanted, or at least make life very difficult. They don't, of course.
E: Aha! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Qi_3_forms.jpg - it's probably an attempt at the Chinese character for chi in Traditional Chinese.
Next time: Why 'kuei-jin' is an offense against linguistics.
But the horror and love story compensate for the monster tentacle sex.Original SA post Kindred of the East: But the horror and love story compensate for the monster tentacle sex.
Okay. Kuei-jin. This is a modern name for the...Kuei-Jin, who have also been known as "Wan Kuei", which the book tells us means "Ten Thousand Demons" and "Gui Ren" which means "Demon People." Literally...these are technically both so. Sort of. Kuei and Gui (and Guei and Kui) are all the same character. Which does at least have the ability to mean 'demon'.
Kuei-Jin is meant to mean 'Demon People' by taking 'kuei' and then attaching the Japanese suffix '-jin' to it. This...this doesn't work. The idea, they tell us, is to foster unity between Japan and China. But linguistically, if we take them at their word, this is the same as if the Cainite vampires declared themselves to be the 'hommes de Blut'.
Now, Japanese and Mandarin can, at least, share an alphabet. So how does one write kuei-jin?
I've been looking into this, and it turns out that in Japanese this would (according to a friend of mine who does read Japanese) be 'kaijin'. Which in modern usage means 'supervillain'. Specifically tokusatsu supervillains. You know, the bad guys from Power Rangers.
In Mandarin, this is 'Gui Ren', which the book claims is Demon People...but in colloquial Mandarin means 'eccentric' or 'weird person'.
So the vampires of Asia are claiming to either be Rita Repulsa or that weird guy at the corner store.
Kindred of the East .
Anyway. Kuei-jin all have a wu , a 'blood-family'. My basic research - that is, use of a Mandarin-English dictionary available free online - says that words pronounced wu could mean: the onomatopoeia for humming, to plaster or whitewash, house or room, witch, dirt or filth, to dig a pond, stagnant water, a crow, black, to accuse falsely, a surname, tungsten, a different surname, I or my, to hold in the mouth or bite, the name of a mountain, a type of tree, no or not, not to have, none, overgrown with weeds, a centipede, a place name, a hoe, a stag, a herd, the number five, an opponent, to associate with, an insult, noon, obstinate, to flatter, a veranda, disobedient, to resist, martial, a river in Henan, a vase, to dance or wield, a parrot, a low stool, fluorine, a mistake, fog, a leg warmer, to run rapidly or a tame duck.
So I've no idea what they mean. Unless they're not using Mandarin for once but fuck, I'm not looking that up again .
A Kuei-jin also has a Dharma, which is basically a philosophical code they follow. Kuei-jin are formed by clawing their way back into their bodies (or some other body, if theirs got cremated) rather than being bitten and turned. They must eat the chi of others, which can be Yin or Yang. Heavily Yin kuei-jin are calm, rational and cruel due to their massive negative chi. They are said to be attuned to the Self. Yang kuei-jin are greedy and consume much, and they are very passionate. They are said to be attuned to Desire. Those who seek balance are considered enlightened, but also unpredictable and chaotic.
A Kuei-jin also has two souls, because Asians have different souls . Their souls work differently. A Kuei-jin has a Hun soul, which is his higher, rational soul, and the P'o soul, which is the lower, bestial soul. The P'o is a lot like the Shadow from Wraith - an asshole voice in your head that goads you to evil deeds. Those with strong Hun are "creatures of honor and temperance", while those with strong P'o are "savage, unruly and animalistic." And some seek balance and get no description beyond their existence. The hun and p'o are at least extant in Chinese philosophy and religion, though the number of each is arguable. Suffice to say that the p'o is not evil; you want to know more, you can go look it up. It's fairly interesting stuff.
Anyway. Differences between kuei-jin and normal vamps: Kuei-jin rot rather than burn in sunlight. They take agg from fire, from magical critter claws and teeth and from "certain Chi-augmented attacks." Their P'o is much more clever than a Vampire's Beast. They cannot normally make Blood Bonds. They have no Blood Points, but instead have Chi, which is tracked as Yin or Black Chi and Yang or Scarlet Chi. They can also gain P'o or Demon Chi. They follow Dharmas which are like the Paths of Enlightenment but "more rewarding." They are explicitly undead bodies animated by souls, but are not Wraiths possessing corpses. They have no natural fangs. They refer to non-frenzied as "wa nature", frenzied as "fire nature" and terror-frenzied as "wave nature." Also when the P'o takes them over, that's "shadow nature." They have no clans or generation. They can't make ghouls. They all seek transcendence, which they think is what Golconda was based on - that is, they think vampires stole the idea from them. They are not paralyzed by staking, but depending on their chi are weak to certain materials. They may learn to drink human breath, spirit or raw essence, and can eat normal food and drink (though they get no benefit from it).
The Glossary is pretty boring, but...Gaki is said to be "a loose term for Japanese Kuei-jin" so apparently they don't treat it like an insult. Though they probably should.
Kin-jin, incidentally, is the name for Western vampires. It is not based on the word 'Kindred' but instead the word 'Caine-jin'. As in 'the people of Caine', or 'Caine with the Japanese 'jin' suffix'. Now, these guys will insist on being called kuei-jin and not Cathayans, but refuse to say 'Kindred' when they can say 'Kin-jin'. I guess they just really, really like their linguistic monstrosities.
Oh, right. And some of their 'suggested materials.'
Kindred of the East posted:
Demon City and Supernatural Beast City - (Japanese) Anime that show just how malignant life (and unlife) in a city overrun with supernatural influence can be. The latter film is just shy of prurient, but the horror and love story compensate for the monster tentacle sex.
First: yes, White Wolf just told you to go watch tentacle porn. Second: they're the same movie. 'Demon' and 'Supernatural Beast' are generally the same word.
Kindred of the East posted:
Shall We Dance? - (Japanese) A lighter vision of Japanese culture meeting Western entertainment. Funny and enlightening.
A successful but unhappy Japanese accountant finds the missing passion in his life when he begins to secretly take ballroom dance lessons.
So yeah, tentacle porn and a comedy about ballroom dancing on the same page.
Next time: Wait, we didn't even get to Chapter One yet?
Civility and etiquette are carefully cultivated among the superior hin.Original SA post
Not possible, since the term would make even less sense than it already does.
Yeah, this would be the equivalent of using the word 'Smith' or 'Jackson'.
Kindred of the East: Civility and etiquette are carefully cultivated among the superior hin .
Okay. The book is now practically un-fucking-readable thanks to the background being dark gray. Apparently, almost no normal vampires have been to Asia in the last five centuries. Despite, again, being everywher else , including the ocean. And, again, no Masquerade. The average person in Asia knows the supernatural exists "for some purpose."
The kuei-jin seek out Dragon Nests, which are...Caerns, basically. Connected by "dragon lines" which are ley lines. Everyone wants these things.
Kindred of the East posted:
Although government, law and the police bludgeon the populace into submission on many occasions, the authorities rarely become involved in many citizens' disputes. Partly, a general wariness exists about how they might handle things, but also there is a long-standing tradition here of settling matters away from outsiders' eyes. It is the way of the East, a way that, for the Kuei-jin, is much more stable and effective than a foolish Masquerade.
Okay. According to Buddhist lore (we are told), a dead person's soul can meet several fates. It can be reborn as human or animal, be reborn into a Hell-realm or become a god...but some souls are strong and gifted with the power of an "asura", which we are told is a celestial demon. (In Buddhism, an asura is the lowest rank of deity, ruled by their passions.) Others are sent back to the world as hungry demons. The Kuei-jin claim to be both. At once.
They are somehow both base and karmically superior. I don't know, this doesn't make sense. They are powerful but need to devour chi. To become a kuei-jin, you must have had one of the two be true:
1. In your mortal life, you must awaken your dormant P'o, generally through sustained depravity. Anyone whose Humanity fell below 5 might have, and anyone whose Humanity fell to 1 certainly did.
2. You died in such a traumatic way that your P'o awakened at the moment of death. This generally requires a really nasty death and a desire to remain alive.
And then, either way, you need Willpower of at least 5. Then, when you die, you either become a Spectre or Bane...or you arrive in the Yomi World, the Thousand Hells. There, if you are strong, your P'o will escape and find your way back to your corpse, which still has the Hun within it. Then you reinhabit your body and force it back to life, becoming Kuei-jin. This takes around two months or so at most for most Kuei-jin. And yes, you can do this even if cremated.
Oh, and improper burial raises your chances. Somehow.
Anyway, you start out as 'chih-mei'. 'Mei' can mean demon or magic, but I have no idea what they were going for here. The chih-mei are mindless animals that crave human flesh. Most of them starve to death or get killed. Those that survive either master themselves...or get captured by older kuei-jin and appraised. They are either put down or enslaved. Those that survive become re . (Again, this seems meaningless to me.) They are still considered hin, nonpersons with no rights. Again, not a word I recognize. Originally you spent 24 years in this state, but these days mostly it's five years. You receive training and education in life and magic. When your Demon Art manifests (we have no idea what that is yet) you are given to the First Oni, the vampire most skilled at controlling her P'o. Usually this is a Devil-Tiger, but not always. (We'll get there.) They teach you to control your P'o...or you die.
Then you join a Dharma (read: philosophical path) and undertake the Fire and Water Test at the end of your initiation. This is always on the 23rd day of the "month of the Dragon." You demonstrate your skills and courtesy, show off your greatest skill, and are either killed or made a disciple and full person. You then get assigned a "direction" based on the day you rose from the dead and join a wu.
The North means you are a preserver of tradition, a magistrate. West are messengers and guardians of Chi; also spies. The East "farm" mortals and care for them. The South cause change and lead to battle. And the Center are scholars. Normal vampires have no direction.
Kindred of the East posted:
Naturally, Kindred have no direction, for they do not hail from anywhere in the "real" world. Accordingly, they are useless, disruptive devils, of little merit and better off destroyed.
Then, you begin your koa, a period the length of a human lifetime where you explore your nature. Again: no apparent meaning.
Kindred of the East posted:
Cathayans still speak with mixed vexation, bemusement and wonder about the koa of the youngling Singing Snake, which, through no conscious decision of its initiator, led to purges in the People's Republic government, gutted Pentex Hong Kong, exposed the corrupted bodhisattva Patterned Tortoise, and foiled a plot of the Yama King Mikabosihi.
You also get given a job to do during your koa. When you succeed, you take a new name, and become a new person.
Next time: Social hierarchies and the difference between murder for the purpose of enlightenment and murder for evil.
Origin lends itself to ways of thought totally removed from beliefs of the Western clans.Original SA post Kindred of the East: Origin lends itself to ways of thought totally removed from beliefs of the Western clans.
Okay, a sidebar first. Kuei-jin do have internal conflicts and wars. However, they are superior to the West because they are organized! They divide war into "twilight" and "midnight" wars. Twilight war has rules and a neutral arbiter. Midnight war is war to the knife, though it must be openly declared in front of a "ranking ancestor." Because for some reason you have to do that. Once started, it can only be "honorably" ended by Facing the Eye of Heaven, which is being bound in an outdoor area until you die of sun-rot.
Anyway. Social hierarchies. And...and my god, this text is hard to read. Fucking gray backgrounds. Anyway, there used to be five great courts (Black Tortoise, White Tiger, Yellow Emperor, Azure Dragon and Scarlet Phoenix) but now there are a ton of courts, which are basically just organized groups of kuei-jin. They are social and political, unlike wu, which...are sort of familial despite also being social constructs or something.
Anyway, kuei-jin are socially ranked by their progress in their Dharma. You start at Dharma 0, and that's chih-mei. They tend to kill each other and eat people and gravitate to corrupted chi lines and shit. Then you become hin, which is Dharma 0-1. And life as a hin is compared to being a pledge in a military college. Then at Dharma 1-3, you are a disciple. You choose your specific Dharma and get initiated into a wu and a court. Then at Dharma 4-5, you are a jina. I haven't a clue what that's meant to mean; perhaps 'jin' for 'evil force' or 'catty' or 'strength' or 'to advance'. Except the 'advance' is physically advancing forward. The jina have achieved 'ling', a state of comprehension of potentiality for power. Ling's closest meaning here in Mandarin would be 'clever'.
At Dharma 6+, you are a mandarin, which is actually a title that was once used, so...okay. You are an advisor in a court or a spiritual guide. At 7+, you are an ancestor but you have to be chosen by the mandarins to be a court's ancestor and you have to be tested. First, you have to answer a bunch of trivia questions. Then you have to beat up five dudes at once. Then you have to frenzy and beat your P'o back under control. At Dharma 9+, you become a Bodhisattva and get massive power, but almost no one does it. It is said that Zao-lot (read: Saulot, who came to hang out with these guys) called this 'the Suspire' for some reason. They also get called arhats. Which is another Buddhist term.
Normal vampires are considered foreign devils and barbarians who are all evil. Despite this, "open hostility" is rare. They are almost as bad as the akuma. The book claims 'akuma' means 'devil' which is...arguably accurate, I guess. The akuma are kuei-jin who embrace the Yama Kings and become their servants. Also people who disobey the rules of their courts or cooperate with normal vampires. Akuma are evil killers and so on (unless they were politically declared akuma) and that's totally not okay (unlike the vampire dharma who kill babies for enlightenment; no, really, we'll get to them). And then there are the heimin, a word roughly meaning 'commoner' in Japanese, who are vagabonds with no wu. The book claims heimin means 'half-person' which I think is literally accurate.
E: Nope, not literally accurate at all; the characters just look similar.
Moving on: The Great Principle, which are the laws of the Kuei-jin. They are:
The Way of Origin: Remember whence you came, for it is the unchanging whole of your purpose.
The Way of Lineage: Heed well those who have come before, and respect those who come after, for they are all part of the truth.
The Way of Integrity: Maintain your honor and trust in all thought, word, and deed, for the behavior of one affects the entire community.
The Way of Obligation: Understand your duties to your brethren, to the forces of the universe, and to yourself, and do all to fulfill them.
The Way of Propriety: Practice correctness in all you do, for the Great Cycle in its every aspect, has its own nature, and that nature must be followed.
In practice, we are told, the Principle is obeyed, though in varying strictness, by all kuei-jin. They are better than the Westerners because of it, due to seeing themselves as linked to all other kuei-jin, with respect and discipline.
Next time: Origin story.
Many Kuei-jin believe that the Kindred's unlifestyle of vice, anarchy, megalomania and destruction is a fitting legacy for such an unflattering sireship.Original SA post Kindred of the East: Many Kuei-jin believe that the Kindred's unlifestyle of vice, anarchy, megalomania and destruction is a fitting legacy for such an unflattering sireship.
Kuei-jin are not descended from Caine, as mentioned. (In fact, they apparently tend to think of normal vampiric bragging about closeness to Caine as hilarious, because "Caine was nothing more than an insignificant farmer, and a murderer on top of that." They, on the other hand, are descended from gods! The kuei-jin were created by the Two, a pair of beings said to represent Yin and Yang. One is male, the other female. There are a lot of arguments over who the Two are, but they are generally defaulted to 'the Ebon Dragon' and 'the Scarlet Queen.' Who are Yin and Yang respectively. The Scarlet Queen, also known as Na Kua in China (a reference to Nu Kua/Mu Wa/Nu Gua/Nuwa, a Chinese creator goddess) and Izanami in Japan (a goddess of creation and death), is the "guardian of emotion, ecstasy and the fire nature." The Ebon Dragon is the contemplative Yin, reflective and meditative; in China he is Hun Dun (the book claims he is a judge of the Underworld, but hundun refers to a mythic primordial chaos or perhaps a faceless god but no judging is ever really mentioned) and in Korea he is Hwan-ung (who they correctly note as having spent a hundred days doing a thing, but they claim it was seeking immortality; in fact, it was turning a bear into a woman and marrying her, from what I can tell).
Now, those of you who know Exalted know that these characters ended up nothing like this, but that's neither here nor there.
Anyway, they are the descendants of the Dragon and the Queen, both Yin and Yang, chosen to guard and guide the people of Asia. And only Asia. They divide history into twelve Ages, four of which have happened, one which we're in and seven which are yet to come. The First Age was the Age of Heaven, before the world was made. It was perfectly harmonious and some of the kuei-jin believe that fulfilling their Dharmas lets them return to this time.
The Second Age was the Age of Beauty, when Asia was created and the Dragon and Queen were born. They created everything and made the worlds of matter and spirits. They missed a few creatures in claiming all the world, though, and so demons and monsters appeared to devour Chi. These became the Yama Kings. To fight them, the Dragon and Queen created supernatural beings - the hengeyokai, the "kamuii fae" (kamuy or kamui is a type of spirit in the Japanese Ainu mythology, similar to the normal Japanese term 'kami') and others. Also humans, who seem to have pissed off the Yama Kings hugely. Somehow. So to protect the humans, the Dragon and Queen created the Wan Xian, the Ten Thousand Immortals (which is at least literally accurate, so we'll let it slide). These were the ancestors of the kuei-jin, mortal souls that crossed to the spirit worlds and returned.
Thus we reach the Third Age, the Age of Legends, when the Wan Xian ruled as gods among men. They fought the Yama Kings and their servants, protecting the world, and also served as guides and teachers to the mortals. But only in Asia. It was then they discovered that they could harvest chi not just from the natural world, but through flesh and blood. At first, they stole only from demons, but their hunger grew.
This led to the Fourth Age, the Age of Beautiful Sadness. The Wan Xian became a terror across Asia, stealing the chi of mortals and setting the hengeyokai to fighting so they could steal the chi of the dragon nests. In punishment, they were hurled down from their thrones and became undead, losing their knowledge of how to breathe. They lost the ability to take chi except by stealing it from others, and their creators turned away from them. However, they were given once chance: by following the Dharmas they could redeem themselves. Thus they became the Wan Kuei, the Ten Thousand Demons.
This led to now, the Fifth Age. The Kuei-jin see the pain of the world in unbalanced Chi and must decide whether to try to save it or to accept their fate as monsters. For soon it will be the Sixth Age, the Age of Sorrow, the worst point of all history. It will be violent and that's really all they know for sure. Some believe the greatest of the Yama Kings will take over the world, while others think there's hope. Unlike the Western vampires, they don't want to stop the apocalypse but just survive it because they are sure there will be more after.
Next time: Dharma has nothing to do with Hinduism.
Rare is the Resplendent Crane who has not smiled at least once to the song of a boiled child.Original SA post Kindred of the East: Rare is the Resplendent Crane who has not smiled at least once to the song of a boiled child.
The word 'Dharma' was chosen by the Kuei-jin Grand Arhat Xue, centuries ago, when he searched the five elements and sought their secrets. He assembled the Fivefold Way of the Damned, merging the Sanskrit term for destiny's law with his own term, 'Di'hana'. Di'hana, so far as I can tell, means absolutely nothing. They made it up. And, uh, he didn't merge it with dharma. They're just called dharmas. So...yeah. (They claim the modern name is influenced by the grand cultural sweeps of Buddhism; dharma was originally a Hindu thing but does have meaning in Buddhism, so. However, it's 'natural law' or 'the natural order' in Sanskrit, while in Buddhism it also refers to the term 'phenomenon'.
Moving on. All Kuei-jin need a dharma, which is a philosophy of existence. This is because kuei-jin see themself as above right and wrong and care only for their purpose under Heaven, which a dharma offers.
Anyway, advancing in the Dharma is similar both, we're told, to Humanity and Generation. While kuei-jin often play at mortal power for a while, they quickly learn that "mortal games are like a thousand scattered grains of rice - too small to collect and too tedious to pursue." So instead, they seek out the dharma, in search of moments of insight which are called den. I've no idea what that means, it doesn't seem to be a pinyin syllable in use for Mandarin. Being on a Dharma also gives a kuei-jin more ability to control Chi; apparently believing a philosophy makes you more powerful.
The steps of a Dharmic journey are:
Sataa - Death, the Yomi World, and Rebirth. (The only reference to the term sataa I can find says it is Finnish .)
K'naa - the Hunger. (Meaningless, so far as I can tell.)
Re - Instruction. (In Mandarin, this would mean 'to heat up' or 'hot'. Or, if they used the wrong accent, 'to salute' or 'to provoke'.)
Koa - the Running Monkey. (Another meaningless term?)
Den - the Ten Dawns.
Na Tou - the Wandering. (This could mean several things, all of which make no sense in Mandarin. In Japanese, it might be a food!)
Suru'a - Finding a Place. (More meaninglessness.)
Dah - All-Awareness, the Eternal Lotus. (I am unsure what's meant here; it might be a weird transliteration of a Chinese syllable, da, but none of the meanings of that syllable make any sense. Except perhaps 'eldest'.)
Dah is translated to be equivalent to Vampire's Golconda, an enlightened state. K'naa is mindless hunger, incidentally. Den, we're told, is the same meaning as 'satori', which is a Japanese Buddhist term for understanding that refers (in the Zen tradition) to a flash of sudden awareness. I'm not sure why they didn't just use 'satori' instead, since they mean the same thing according to the book. (which is right on the meaning of satori, at least.)
Anyway, the koa stage is basically Asian vampire teenagerdom. You get to be an idiot and make mistakes, and you raise your Dharma as you discover how illusory what you are seeking is. Sometimes, though, kuei-jin get 'diao', which they translate as blindness. I can't find a meaning. And those lower your Dharma, because you get distracted by the world. A typical koa runs into both den and diao and doesn't really make much progress in either direction.
This, we are told, is what makes the suru'a strong - "the blade of Dharma is folded ten thousand times" before suru'a, when they take on a duty and become jina. However, jina still seek out "the Hundred Clouds", a metaphorical term for ultimate peace. Which basically means they want to max out Dharma and reach Golconda/Dah. But in far more flowery terms.
Anyway. Generally, one follows a Dharma based on their highest or lowest Virtue rating. Usually. Changing Dharma is possible, but you always start at Dharma 1 when you do. Even if you were past Dharma 5. However, you can apparently be a given Dharma only once, and if you fail at all five, you die permanently.
Kindred of the East posted:
If the characters falls from all five Dharmic paths in this manner, her soul is summarily blasted from the Middle Kingdom into oblivion, and she meets Final Death.
Anyway. At certain dramatic moments, you make Dharma rolls. These can be either good or bad. On "auspicious" (read: good, but we're writing about Asia so we use auspicious) occasions, you roll your Dharma's Virtue against your P'o rating - even if your Dharma's Virtue is P'o. If the Virtue is Balance, you use the average of highest and lowest. If you win, you get a moment of enlightenment and gain 1 Dharma. If you lose, you are immensely hungry and do not care. If it's a tie, nothing happens. A "moment of blindness" is a roll as above, but if you win you just hesitate and then move on. If you lose, you lose a point of Dharma. If you tie, you feel shamed. If you get knocked to Dharma 0, you turn into a chih-mei and become a mindless killer again.
The five Dharmas are: the Howl of the Devil-Tiger, which uses P'o Virtue and is associated with the South, Fire and "Ghost-Flame". The Way of the Resplendent Crane, which uses Hun Virtue and is associated with the North, Water and Blood. The Song of the Shadow, which uses Yin Virtue and is associated with the West, Metal and Bone. The Path of a Thousand Whispers, which uses Balance Virtue and is associated with the Center, Earth and Jade. And the Dance of the Thrashing Dragon, which uses Yang Virtue and is associated with the East, Wood and Flesh.
But we don't learn what those actually mean yet! Instead, we get a discussion on religion that the book itself calls simplistic. We are told that most kuei-jin are Buddhists, but some are animist, atheist, Confucian, Hindu, Muslim - though the Muslim ones are said to be miserable - Shinto (common with Japanese kuei-jin) or Taoist (also very popular). Christianity and Judaism are entirely unmentioned.
Also, you get "the Ten Thousand Joys" for having high Dharma, which include mechanical benefits! There's Respect - with other kuei-jin or "any perceptive Westerner" you get social benefits (which don't kick in until Dharma 6+), increased ability to spend Chi (which doesn't kick in until Dharma 4+), ability to gather chi from different sources (which aren't described yet), the ability to use powers on other kuei-jin (because some fail against higher Dharma), and increased trait maximums (Dharma 6+ only).
Oh yeah, you wanted examples of auspicious moments? They can come from several methods! Asceticism, for example. However, this is hard - when they do not eat, kuei-jin begin to rot. "Even so, every Kuei-jin tries asceticism at least once, if only out of custom." Benevolence - that is, helping people. Though the kuei0jin don't seem to understand what it means.
Kindred of the East posted:
Other Cathayans offer sudden mercy or forgiveness to enemies or failed subordinates.
Others just give people stuff! Then there's chants, mantras and breathing! This is basically meditation. Kuei-jin don't need to breathe, but some do in the hopes that it will bring them closer to enlightenment.
And then there's cruelty.
Kindred of the East posted:
Just as a monster can gain a sudden insight from a moment of kindness, so a saint can break the mold with an unexpected atrocity. Rare is the Resplendent Crane who has not smiled at least once to the song of a boiled child. Truly, Heaven smiles on a wise devil.
Yeeeeeah. And you do this out of nowhere, spontaneously, for its own sake! There's other methods, but they boil down to 'alchemy, meditation, traveling the world, meditation, riddles, meditation, self-mortification, beating people up and meditation.'
Next time: So what are the Five Dharmas, anyway?
Devil-Tiger temples crawl with atrocities - from skewered babies to maimed slaves.Original SA post Kindred of the East: Devil-Tiger temples crawl with atrocities - from skewered babies to maimed slaves.
First, I want to note - there are more than these five Dharmas. Other Dharmas were introduced in later books, including 'fuck it, I have no Dharma' Dharma. So yeah, I have no idea who found out you died if you failed at these particular five, but he was a really unlucky guy. Anyway.
The first of the Dharmas is the Howl of the Devil-Tiger, the Dharma of the P'o Virtue. The Howl of the Devil-Tiger is the dharma for those souls who enjoyed the torments of Yomi, for whom pain is cleansing. The Mantra of Pain was discovered by Xue (a legendary kuei-jin who discovered all five of these Dharmas) after the destruction of Mount Meru (a sacred mountain in Buddhist, Jain and Hindu cosmology which is said to be the center of all universes). Apparently that got destroyed! He lashed himself with nettles and carved himself up, and his blood burst into flames. So he ripped his face off and hurled it into the fire and became enlightened.
The Devil-Tigers do not worship demons, we're told. Oh, it seems that way because they are evil motherfuckers who kill babies and torture people, are surrounded by evil spirits and taint the Dragon Nests they control...but they aren't demon-worshippers. They want to become demons, which is apparently much more socially acceptable. They are also called the Searing Wind, and they think of pain as a teacher and purifier. They believe they keep the world healthy by burning out and destroying the rot, both of themselves and others.
Kindred of the East posted:
These vampires epitomize sadomasochism; they enjoy tormenting other creatures mentally, emotionally and physically, but revel in the same treatment, too.
The Devil-Tigers think pain itself is transcendent, and that the fear of pain restrains people. So they want to teach everyone that...except they also destroy anyone they think understands too well. And also, as mentioned, they think of themselves as the world's doctors, tearing out diseased flesh. They teach their recruits with pain and torment, but it is "magnificent" rather than brutal. Because tigers. Their dharma weakness is that they are unsubtle and impulsive. This has no mechanical effect.
1. Ride the Demon, do not let it ride you.
2. Glory in the fires of the flesh and the passions of the soul.
3. Teach others to live joyfully through pain.
4. Throw fear into the flames and encourage others to do likewise.
5. Do not hesitate - act!
6. Seek out the brightest embers and feed them until they become bonfires.
7. Meditate upon the flesh of passion, the dazzle of its afterglow and the darkness that follows.
8. Be cultured in your passions and magnificent in your evil. Any imbecile can act like a madman; it takes true wisdom to become a devil.
Remember: it is cultured and magnificent to skewer babies, and it teachers others to abandon fear and live joyfully through pain!
Resplendent Crane: Law is a bandage. I will rip it off and make you bleed.
Song of the Shadow: Cold as marble. Strike hard and it shatters.
Thousand Whispers: To shift between lives is an admirable but cowardly way to learn Dharma. Are you studying creation or running from it?
Thrashing Dragon: In the white furnace of passion, the line between life and death is turned to ashes.
Kindred: Oh, quit bitching! You enjoy what you are. Now admit it and get on with your existence!
The Devil-Tigers think tigers, thunderstorms, lightning and fire are good omens. They are associated with fire, the number 2, the color red and the south. Their group quote is 'Trust me' for some reason. Example concepts include prostitutes, smugglers, torturers and rebelsub kids .
The second of the Dharmas is the Way of the Resplendent Crane, the Dharma of the Hun Virtue. The Resplendent Crane is the dharma for those who believe that the world should be more like heaven: orderly, secure and settled. They believe that Yomi was not punishment enough for them, and that they must fix the world to atone. Xue meditated for a thousand nights beneath the Falls of Tong (which could be any number of waterfalls; there's the Bua Tong, the Tao Tong, the Tarn Tong...) and his arms became bloated and his skin turned green. He became hungry and wandered naked in the snow, eventually finding a frozen pond. There, he saw a crane pluck a frog from the ice. It set the frog aside, and the frog became a butterfly, and Xue became enlightened.
The Cranes believe that suffering is caused by imperfection. If those who lead are pure, all is good. They became impure and disgraced themselves as leaders, and so all that has come from that is bad. They serve to enforce and exemplify virtue. (Except when they smile at the screams of boiled babies.) They believe that the Sixth Age can be prevented and the world can be sent back along the cycle. Despite us being told that no one believed that and they all knew the cycle was inevitable. They walk the "Eight Lotus Path" which is basically Confucianism for babies. They are also called the Shining Ice Guardians. They only want to save Asia, mind you, and see its problems as entirely caused by foreign invaders. These invaders carry disease and spiritual contagion and so must be purged. They train via asceticism and koans, primarily. Their (mechanically nonexistent) weakness is that they cannot tolerate rebellion and have a very strict view of good and evil, with no room for mercy.
1. Follow the Eight Lotus Path.
2. Follow the Fivefold Way.
3. When you lose control, make amends. The Demon guides you but does not own you.
4. When injustice or corruption appears, correct it to the best of your ability.
5. Be generous to the worthy, defend the weak and instruct the young and errant.
6. When the wicked will not listen to reason, straighten them as you were once straightened.
7. Defend the ghosts of your family and protect your living relations. Do not let them see you, however - you have become a disgrace to their honor.
8. Maintain your dignity, honor and composure. You are an example of what the Damned can become.
The Fivefold Path is an Indian doctrine originating in 1944 from the teachings of Parama Sadguru Shree Gajanan Maharaj of India . He actually liked the West!
Devil-Tiger: Like oxen, they pull a heavy load, trample the unwise and must be slaughtered to feed the family when the journey ends.
Song of the Shadow: Leave them to tend the ghosts. We will tend the living.
Thousand Whispers: Does one who gouges out his own eyes see clearer for it?
Thrashing Dragon: Like naked children, they run to the spiders' dens and get stung. Soon they'll learn better.
Kindred: Rabid dogs in the gutter biting their own balls.
Spiders have stingers now? And...well! That sure is some composure there! The Cranes think eight-petaled lotus flowers, cranes, butterflies, cold wind and ice are good omens. They are associated with water, the number 1, the color yellow and the north. Their group quote is 'As the Master said, those who err on the side of strictness are few indeed!' Their example concepts are soldiers, priests, monks, martial artists and Mr. Fixit.
Next time: No one in Asia has nail clippers, but they do have really dumb quotes!
(sound of a vampire's head being torn off and tossed in a dumpster)Original SA post Kindred of the East: (sound of a vampire's head being torn off and tossed in a dumpster)
What's that? White Wolf equating Asian with "spouts random mystical bullshit that, when analyzed at all, instantly falls apart"? Sounds like it's time to get to the rest of the Dharmas! This is the fun part of the book to write up because it's just so insane, it's not boring any more!
We move on to the Song of the Shadow, the Dharma of the Yin Virtue. These guys, also called the Bone Flowers, care about the spirit realm. They love information and learning and are mystics, ambassadors and also seem to think all spirits are ghosts or something. They are poets and playwrights and shit for the sake of learning, standing between life and death. They were formed, they say, when Xue fell in love with a ghost in the foests of Hing Fan, a place I cannot find any references to via quick Googling. He went into the Yin World, but was not welcome. The Ebon Dragon came to him and breathed on him, turning him to dust. The Dragon then asks if he'd "swirl in my air forever and a day", to which Xue replies that he would if he could be with his love. The Dragon then sneers at him, says he has no use ofr love and snorts, sending him all over as a layer of fine ash. The ghost lover cries a single tear, which falls in the ash and brings Xue back to life, enlightening the Dragon.
Anyway, we are then told that there is a Dharmic sutra named the Midnight Jewel which compares the spirit world to a web and the living world to dew on the web. The Shadow Song see themselves as spiders on the web, tasting the dew, plucking the strands and feeding on "unwary flies." This metaphor is getting less and less sensical. They are immortal, but learn from mortals and thrive on their learning. They "comfort the grieving, shepherd the ghosts and punish disrespectful mortals." Their training emphasizes meditation, symbolism and learning, and also making art. Their (mechanically meaningless) wekaness is that they are cold and dispassionate, and also pale and fragile. They speak in whispers and are "both abhorrent and beautiful," causing mortals and shapeshifters to dislike them. Which, again, no mechanics to enforce that or anything. Also, they are known for cruelty and callousness, dismissing any pain as irrelevant.
1. Bathe in the breath of the Ebon Dragon, but hold fast to the Scarlet Queen's teardrop.
2. Behold the pillar of the family and safeguard it against vandals and thieves.
3. Kiss the spirits in their houses and the ghosts in their shrouds. Both are lonely and adore the healing touch.
4. Gather what you can from the falling leaves of knowledge.
5. Press the truth like fine paper and ink it with the visions you have seen.
6. Give freely of your knowledge, but wrap it up like a precious gift.
7. Look beyond the obvious and discern a deeper meaning.
8. Console the grieving and remind them to respect the dead.
Yeah, stereotypical World of Darkness scholar group. I am pretty sure every single one of them is exactly like this.
Devil-Tiger: Choking on blood will not answer your questions.
Resplendent Crane: Cold as ice, hard as iron and brittle as glass.
Thousand Whispers: Deafened by all voices, you cannot hear the one which leads you.
Thrashing Dragon: Dance with me, little brother, but beware the edge of that pit.
Kindred: You speak of death? By all means, let me show it to you...
The Bone Flowers think bones, cool water, autumn leaves, masks, cold breezes, dying plants and funerals are lucky. They are associated with metal, the color black, the number 4 and the west. I'm beginning to feel like a Sesame Street ending sequence! Anyway, their excample concepts are priests, archivists, detectives, ambassador to other supernaturals, "weirdo in the graveyard" and necrophiliacs.
Their quote is "Your mother bore you. Your father raised you. I speak for them. And they are not happy."
The next Dharma is the Path of a Thousand Whispers, the Dharma of Balance Virtue. Which is 'have all virtues close together.' They see themselves as the centipede. The centipede, they point out, can't fly! Instead he has a hundred legs that all move together. Xue saw this and was enlightened.
They read a text called the Hollow Reed, which is all about moderation and emptiness. Their idea is to be filled with nothing and to be able to do anything, so they are called the Rootless Trees. They believe that the Sixth Age is a ritual death that will not be the end. (But no one in Asia believes it's the end, though they seem to think everyone else does.) They believe centipedes can't be harmed by things, by the way - when crickets drown and wasps are blown away, the centipede is totally okay ! They also love riddles and symbols and are said to love to look at absolutely everything through every possible perspective. They are known for being shapechangers and take on new lives with gusto. They're pretty rare, though, because it's really, really hard to do apparently. This is because they actively attempt to cultivate multiple personalities. Possibly. Or just pretend to be ten different people at once.
Their training mostly involves ritual deaths and burials, taking on new identities, meditative trances and so on. Also, koans. They do love koans. All Whispers are given three new identities, designed to be as different as possible. Their weakness is that they occasionally go to extremes. To avoid attachment, they break things and people they care about, and they are renowned for such betrayals. Because betraying your friends is totally balanced and neutral. That's how abandoning attachment works!
1. Live 1,000 lifetimes, each one different from the last.
2. Learn what you can from each life.
3. Change as much as possible between breaths.
4. If you grow too close to something, kill it. It will only hinder you.
5. Turn your back on each life as you leave it.
6. Give when generosity is needed; take when theft is required.
7. Pry open the eyes of the sightless and make the mute defend their wordless state. All beings must confront their choices, so question them as you pass.
8. When something appears to be out of balance, correct it. If you cannot, destroy it.
This, I think, is the Take This To Be An Asshole path if your DM won't let you be a Devil-Tiger.
Devil-Tiger: What an ugly mask! Take it off before you scare yourself.
Resplendent Crane: The Monkey King put all your kind to shame. It took the Buddha and the elements to teach him to behave.
Song of the Shadow: I hear the whispers too, but some of mine know how to laugh.
Thrashing Dragon: Well named - lots of activity going nowhere.
Kindred: Ants in the path of the coming flood.
Well, that could be worse, it was at least consistently stupid psuedo-Zen bullshit. They are associated with earth, the color white, the number zero and the center point. They think jade masks, caves, centipedes, tunnels and statues of people are lucky. Their sample concepts are spies, teachers, "enigmatic strangers", mercenaries and lunatics. Their quote is "To see each sunset with a new pair of eyes is grand. To be each new sunset is the ultimate enlightenment."
Oh hey! Gratuitous nudity, I was wondering where you went. The last Dharma is the Dance of the Thrashing Dragon, the Yang Virtue Dharma. They embrace life (despite being undead) and are also called the Laughing Rainbows. The forces of nature inspired Xue to meditate, and as he watched a thunderstorm, he put aside his misery. Bugs wandered around, birds sang, and Xue could not shut out the pulse of life. As the rains ended and a rainbow appeared, he was enlightened. This life-force guides the Dragons, who are restless and obsessed with the world. They know it's an illusion, but it is too colorful to ignore.
The Thrashing Dragons are known to be vulgar and messy, "indulging themselves with wild feasts and drunken orgies". They are known to have temples in Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia "so infamous" that even other undead stay away.
Kindred of the East posted:
The thrashing Dragon path isn't evil per se, but the Way's aggressive approach to life usually includes fucking it from every conceivable angle, willingly or otherwise.
Also, they turn into animals. They love cities, forests and oceans, and they always eat living meat rather than dead. They think this is important. They are also major animists, who think everything is alive. Their training tends to involve trantric - oh, I'm sorry, Tantrik postures and se. Lots of sex. And I think also eating the people they have sex with. Anyway, their "weakness" is that they are shameless, impulsive and lusty. "Most go naked or nrealy so" and they ignore social customs. Despite, you know, all kuei-jin thinking custom and tradition are awesome and that's why the West sucks. They still think the West sucks, mind you. They are also rumored to be cannibal diablerists, but actually aren't and think that's gross. (I'm pretty sure the book's already stated that diablerie isn't actually a thing kuei-jin can do, anyway.)
1. Attune yourself to life in all its forms.
2. Meditate upon passions; do not shut them out, but experience them, learn from them and encourage them in others.
3. Use your power as a farmer employs his threshing-tools: break the stalks, gather the rice, scatters the seeds, help them grow.
4. Help all living things thrive. When something appears to be dying, consume it and send it back to the Cycle.
5. Half-life is an abominable state. Be as alive as you can be.
6. Guide the sun up each morning. Sleep when it is risen.
7. Laugh often and help others to see the humorous shadows.
8. Protect the spirits. Without them, the life-dance stops.
And because I think the last bit needs to stand on its own...they're associated with wood, the number 3, the color green and the east. They think raindbows, thunderstorms, flowers, blood and yoni and lingam symbols are lucky. Yoni and lingam symbols are traditional representations of genitalia in Indian religion. Their sample concepts are artists, prostitutes, "Tantrika", cannibals, entertainers and ecoterrorists.
Devil-Tiger: Pain-poetry disguises their ignorance. The only color they see is blood-red.
Resplendent Crane: I answer to an older law than yours. Cross me and the sword will be in my hands.
Song of the Shadow: Sweet sister, please stop weeping. Take my hand and laugh!
Thousand Whispers: The centipede is not immune to his own poison.
Kindred: You drank the blood of a dead thing ? (sound of a vampire's head being torn off and tossed into a dumpster) Then that's where you belong!
Next time: I think we may have peaked, but hey! Mechanics!
Needless to say, in the Barbarian's analysis, Western ways always come out better.Original SA post Kindred of the East: Needless to say, in the Barbarian's analysis, Western ways always come out better.
Kindred of the East posted:
There are rumors a few Hungry Dead have risen in american Chinatowns and the like, but these stories are unconfirmed.
And that sentence is the last you will ever hear about those.
Now, we've moved into chargen. First, we pick Nature and Demeanor as standard for oWoD. Then we pick Dharma and direction. And then we choose balance. You can be either Yin, Yang or Balanced. Except that choosing this is determined by your Yin and Yang Virtues, not your choice. But okay.
A Yin kuei-jin has a Yin that is 2 or more higher than his Yang. Yin kuei-jinm are vulnerable to the element of wood, which means that like normal vampires they get paralyzed by being staked in the heart by wood. This is identical in all ways to normal vampires. A Yang kuei-jin, on the other hand, is weak to metal and must be stoaked by a metal shaft or blade through the heart. Bullets, metal-tipped arrows and so on don't work, it has to be at least a foot of metal. And Balanced?
Kindred of the East posted:
Vampires of Balance must maintain Chi harmony at a times. They are considered temporarily unbalanced whenever their bodies contain two or more points of one type of Chi than its opposite. While thus imbalanced, any use of Chi has the potential to provoke a bad reaction.
We aren't told what that actually means, though.
Anyway. We than do standard WoD chargen for attributes and abilities....we get three Disciplines - one Demon Art and two others. We'll look into that later. Five backgrounds, and 4 points to split between Yin and Yang, which start at 1 each. We start with a Hun of 1 and a O'o of 3. Our Willpower starts equal to our Hun! We get 15 points to throw at stuff.
Oh, and we start with guanxi ratings to our wu. Guanxi is a Chinese term that refers to a social dynamic of personal networks of influence. In KotE, it means the Vaulderie, a Sabbat thing that causes weak blood bond among a pack. Despite being unable to blood bond, all members of a wu - which you join, you aren't born into - are supernaturally connected to each other, with a rating equal to (5 + [ wu -mate's Charisma] - [higher of P'o or Yin]). We also get a P'o Archetype.
This is the evil voice of your beast. They range from the Bandit, which wants you to destroy those above you and those who would stop you from doing what you want to the Fool, which wants you to do everything the easy way, to the Legalist, who wants you to beat down your inferirors, to the Monkey, who wants you to do whatever you feel like at that second...to the Barbarian.
Kindred of the East posted:
The Barbarian seeks to reject the traditional ways of Kuei-jin and replace them with the chaotic, undisciplined methods of the Kin-jin. Seeing the relative freedom of Western vampires, it wishes to abandon its heritage and join the Kin-jin in their decadence. The Barbarian mocks the Hun's devotion to duty and respect for tradition, and it takes every opporunity to compare Cathayan and Western ways. Needless to say, in the Barbarian's analysis, Western ways always come out better.
I realize this is a short one, but seriously: one of the evil voices of your evil soul which wants you to do evil is The Guy Who Doesn't Hate The West.
Next time: What do my Virtues do, anyway? And what about Chi?
Unlike in the West, the P'o is not merely a mindless adversary to be tamed and suppressed.Original SA post Kindred of the East: Unlike in the West, the P'o is not merely a mindless adversary to be tamed and suppressed.
Okay. We're into what things do. First, your Virtues. Your Yin Virtue lets you resist fire nature (anger frenzy), and you can spend Yin to get Ghostsight, which lets you see ghosts and other creatures of the Underworld. You can also use it to scan physical objects for weaknesses, which requires spending three turns concentrating on the object and then a roll of either Yin+Medicine or Yin+Crafts depending on the target, difficulty 8. And then you can tap the object as an "atemi" (no, the book uses the quotes, not me) strike with bonus damage equal to your successes on that roll. It works only for one attack, though, even if you miss. You can also make a roll to tell if someone is sick or hurt, or how damaged something is. More Yin makes you calmer.
Your Yang can be used for healing - one Yang point heals one HL of damage. It also gives you Lifesight, which lets you read auras with a difficulty 9 Perception+Empathy roll to see their true feelings regarding someone they have just met. Oh, and it's considered rude to aura-read Asian supernaturals, but mortals and normal vampires are fair game. You may also detect "overriding emotional passions" in mortals with Lifesight, detecting specific emotions with another roll, ranging out based on your Perception. Lastly, it lets you detect spirits if you concentrate. And, of course, Yang helps resist "wave nature" (fear frenzy). More Yang makes you more energetic.
Hun lets you resist P'o takeover and acts as a limiter on your Empathy score. It also allows you to roll Hun to gain heightened senses for a scene (difficulty 6) or talk to spirits (difficulty equal to the local Gauntlet). You can also use it to remain aware douring a P'o takeover and subtly influence the P'o even if you didn't resist it.
P'o allows the kuei-jin to go into a berserk rage and activate fire nature. During this, they suffer no wound penalties and get access to Demon Chi. Demon Chi is equal to your P'o and can be spent on extra actions, damage successes or extra Strength roll successes. You can't spend more Demon Chi than your Stamina per turn. You regain Demon Chi each night equal to your successes on a P'o roll, or can be fed off in defiled places. Your Demon Arts scores are limited by your P'o. Your P'o also is used to tell whether you enter fire, shadow or wave nature. Somehow. I'm not sure how that works - the book is not very clear. It also is used to resist mind control - you roll your P'o at difficulty 9. If you succeed, you automatically break free, but test for Shadow Nature (which is P'o takeover) immediately.
Now we move on to disciplines! The first discipline is Equilibirum, which "regulates and redirects Chi".
The first dot, Master Flow, lets you turn Yin or Yang Chi into the other type, and also to spend both Yin and Yang Chi at once, which you can't noramlly do.
The second dot is Adjust Balance, which lets you touch someone and make a Medicine roll. If you succeed, you turn some of their Chi into its opposite. This is used on kuei-jin primarily as a weapon to lock away certain Disciplines or render them imabalanced. On mortals or normal vampires, it can attune them to Yin, Yang or Balance. Being attuned to Yang means you spend Willpower on any possible roll for the rest of the night, and vampires suffer +1 difficulty to resist frenzy. Being attuned to Yin makes you lethargic and increases the difficulty of Willpower rolls by one. Vampires suffer +1 difficulty to resist Rotschreck. A mortal in Balance is cured of all but the most debilitating diseases (examples: cancer, AIDS) and gets -1 difficulty to rolls to resist disease or Derangements for a month. Vampires get -1 difficulty to resist frenzy for a night.
The third dot is Shift the Balance, which lets you make a Meditation roll to trade a dot of permanent Yin for permanent Yang or vice versa for a scene.
The fourth dot is Chi Interrupt, which lets you make a Medicine roll on a target (difficulty of their Stamina plus 3) to give them -1 dice per success for one turn per success; if you get 4 or more successes, they are paralyzed for a scene. Mortals also take 1 damage, and people with Stamina of 2 or less die of heart failure.
Fifth dot is Chi Mastery, which lets you touch someone and make an Equilibrium roll, which they can only resist if they also have Equilibrium. For each success, you destroy one of their Chi points or equivalent power points - Blood, Gnosis, Quintessence, Pathos, whatever. Mortals take 1 damage per success instead. You may also make an Equilibrium roll to corrupt Chi, which makes it unusable and causes the target to take 1 damage per round until they spend all the infected Chi - this also works on Gnosis, Blood or the like. Mortals can't get rid of this unless treated by a physician with "knowledge of Yin-Yang healing" or a vampire with Equilibrium and will probably die.
Then we get Tapestry, the discipline that manipulates dragon lines.
The first dot, Spirit Call, lets you call Yin or Yang spirits; they won't obey you, but they will show up.
The second dot, Chi Warp, lets you raise or lower the local Gauntlet rating. (Which is called the Wall in Asia, by the way.) If it's raised to 10, no one can use any Chi powers at all of any sort.
The third dot, Chi-Shaping, lets you concentrate in order to reshape the area's dragon lines. With one success, that means you get +1 dice to all rolls to defend against Chi attacks aimed at you, such as Chi breath attacks, Forces magic, elemental gifts, Thaumaturgical fire or most rituals that directly affect the target. For two successes, you can attune someone to good luck, making any botches into normal failures and letting you reroll 10s as extra dice. You can also attune someone to bad luck, though if you mess up it hits everyone in the area. This means that any roll with a 1 or 2 in it counts as a botch for the rest of the scene. Bad luck and good luck cancel each other out. For three successes you can make a trap for spirits, which holds the spirit immoble either for a scene or until they agree to do something for you.
The fourth dot is Ride the Dragon. This lets you teleport along dragon lines with a Virtue roll. For one success, you teleport up to 500 feet, Two success is 2500 feet, 3 is a mile, 4 is 10 miles, 5 is 100 miles. You get +4 dice to initiative when you appear net turn, and may take your full turn. A botch drops you somewhere random within a hundred miles.
The fifth dot is Chi Rift, which lets you open a portal to either the Umbra or the Underworld. You can be punished for using it too much. Creating a portal to the Umbra creates a localized Wyldstorm, which you can try to direct with a Rituals roll. The Underworld creates a localized Maelstrom that, again, you can try to direct. Anyone trapped in either storm take (5-Stamina) damage per turn; Kuei-jin can resist this with permanent Yin or Yang, and vampires use Fortitude. Everyone else is, I suppose, just fucked. Also if you're caught in it while in the spirit world, you have to make a Stamina roll to not be hopelessly lost.
Next is Yang Prana, which grants speed and toughness. Your Yang Prana can never be higher than the lower of your Dexterity and Stamina. None can be used while tied up.
The first dot is Principle of Motion. You spend Yang points, and get either +3 dice to initiative per Yang spent, or one extra action per Yang spent. You can spend Yang points up to your dots in Yang Prana.
The second dot is Yang Mantle, which allows you to spend a point of Yang to gain the following effects. First, you may use your Lifesight to attune yourself to someone's aura - a mortal or animal. That creature will then like you and be attracted to you. You may use social abilities against spirits while Yang Mantle is active, with a difficulty of their Gnosis plus 4. (Can you not do that normally?) Also, you gain the power of wood, ketting you charge a wooden object with Yang for one Yang point. This allows that object to deal aggravated damage as long as you're holding it, up to a scene in length. For one more Yang, you can also make it able to hit immaterial beings for a turn, or shoot a blast of Yang fire which deals 3 dice of aggravated damage to a material target (which is a Melee roll that acts as a firearm for range penalties).
The third dot is Dragon Dance, which lets you spend a point of Yang to increase the difficulty to influence or control you by one. you also suffer no wound penalties and may add attack successes to the damage of Brawl, Martial Arts or Melee rolls as if they were firearm attacks. You may also spend Yang Chi as per PPrinciple of Motion and may activate the Black Wind Discipline if you want. (We'll get to that.)
The fourth dot is Eightfold Yang Mantle. This takes two turns to activate and costs 1 or more Yang. You get one soak die per Yang point against Yang-based attacks, attacks from wooden weapons and fire-based attacks. You may diffuse this and mold it around you to create an illusion that can't be detected except via Lifesight or Chi Sight, and even then requires a roll to detect that it's more than just radiant with Chi. This may be stacked with Yang Mantle.
The fifth dot is Semblance of the Scarlet Queen. This lets you make a Rituals roll to turn yourself into Yang energy and go into the spirit world. You are invisible and incorporeal to material beings, but can become visible. You may interact with Yang spirits and can withstand damage equal to your HLS plus your Yang. Chi-based attacks hit you normally, as do mental attacks. You remain in spirit form until you choose to go back across the Gauntlet, and while in spirit form you don't have to spend Chi to awaken, though healing and power activating have normal costs.
And last for today is Yin Prana, which grants invisibility and control over people. Your Yin Prana is limited by the lower of your Perception and Stamina.
The first dot is Shrouded Moon, which lets you spend a point of Yin to become invisible and inaudible so long as you are within a shadowy area and either remain still or move no faster than a walk. Supernatural senses require a roll to detect you.
The second dot is Yin Mantle. You spend one Yin and get the following benefits. First, Ghostsight lets you sense the Passions of a ghost, and you may attune yourself to a ghost to make them be attracted to you and like you. You can interact with Yin-spirits with social abilities, much like with Yang Mantle and Yang spirits. You an also channel the power of Yin through metal. This lets you spend a point of Chi to charge a metal object with Yin, making it deal agg damage for a scene. You can also, like with Yang Mantle, spend another point to make it hit spirits or shoot energy for a turn.
The third dot is Bone Dance, which lets you make an Athletics roll. With one success per turn, all mortals nearby get +1 to all difficulties. With two, supernaturals suffer the effect of one success and mortals will obe any command that doesn't require them t take aggressive actions. If they fail a Willpower roll, they don't even remember they met you. For three, mortals make a Willpower roll to avoid falling asleep, supernaturals get +2 to all difficulties and vampires of both types make a Willpower roll to avoid entering torport for the rest of the night.
For four dots, you get Eightfold Yin Mantle. This lets you turn Yin into weapons. Mundane tools cost one point, while Melee or Thrown weapons cost 1 point and deal (strength) agg damage, +1 point for each additional point of damage. Firearms can't be made, but bullets can be. You can also do the soak thing like with Yang Prana, but it defends against Yin attacks, metal-based attacks and water or wind attacks. Also, you may turn your shadow into a creature with Yin and a P'o roll. It is basically an attack dog called a wayang (literally Javanese for 'shadow', but in practice it refers to puppet theatre - and yes, that's from Java , not Japan). The wayang has your physical stats, deals aggravated damage and has HLs equal to your P'o. It lasts for your Yin in minutes; if it is destroyed, you have to test for P'o takeover.
Five dots is Semblance of the Ebon Dragon. This is exactly the same as Semblance of the Scarlet Queen except that you go to the Underworld instead.
Next time: Illegible squiggles.
But not to play a guitar at superhuman speed.Original SA post Kindred of the East: But not to play a guitar at superhuman speed.
Okay, we left off at Demon Arts. Demon Arts are the powers that you know instinctively because your P'o teaches them. Everyone knows at least one, and they are limited by your P'o score. While using them, though, you can't really use any Soul Disciplines except for Chi'iu Muh. Which roughly means 'no soul-controlling magic except for growing a third eye'. You also have to make a test for Shadow Nature every time you use a Demon Art.
The first Demon Art is Black Wind. It costs 1 Demon Chi per turn, and while in use, for each dot in you have you can: take an extra action, get double your base running speed or get one automatic success to a Brawl or Melee damage roll. You can choose new ways to use your dots each turn. Black Wind can only be used for violent actions and gross physical movement, not fine work like playing a guitar.
The next is Demon Shintai. It takes 3 Demon Chi, and turns you into a hideously powerful demon form. You get stat boosts, Topping out at +3 Strength, +2 Dexterity and +2 Stamina, along with a bunch of physical enhancements such as claws, wings, hideous biting faces on your back, rotting flesh, extra arms or whatever.
This leads us into the other Shintai disciplines. They say Shintai is Japanese for 'god body', which is literally accurate. However, it generally refers to sacred relics where the kami are said to live. There are five Shintai - Blood (for Water), Bone (for Metal), Jade (for Earth), Flesh (For Wood) and Ghost-Flame (for Fire). Each one lets you raise a physical attribute cheaply and easily in additon to its other powers.
Blood Shintai is represented by a badly drawn kanji character which does, at least, mean 'blood.'
This is what the kanji is meant to look like.
Anyway. Blood lets you raise Strength, and has the following powers:
1 dot: Permeate. You can spend a chi to be able to slip through crevices or get out from any bonds. You can also shrivel and swell your face to make yourself look like you aren't you. You can keep doing this for one scene.
2 dots: Blood Atemi. You touch someone and spend 1 chi. If you hit their torso, they have to make a Stamina roll to not become nauseous and dizzy for a few turns and have to make a roll to even be able to act; if they botch their stamina roll this lasts for a whole scene...and mortals have a stroke. If you hit a limb, the limb goes numb or spasms. A numb limb gibes -2 to all actions that use it, and a spasm requires a Dexterity roll to avoid cramps preventing the limb from being used for a few turns; a botch deals damage. You can also use this power to speed up healing. Anything without a bloodstream is immune to this power.
3 dots: Flow Like Blood. You spend a point of Yang chi and for three turns can dodge any attacks at full dicepool in addition to doing anything else. If you decide to just dodge and do nothing else, it's easier than normal.
4 dots: Bloodlash. You spend a point of chi and open your mouth or slit your wrist. You get a whip made of chi that deals aggravated damage or can choke people. It can swap between these.
5 dots: Blood Awakening. You can make an object come to life by sprinkling blood on it and spending Yang chi. Also you can make it grow huge. Alternatively, you can spend Yin Chi to be able to spit at a ghost and turn it into a statue that comes into the real world.
Bone Shintai is likewise nearly correct. It can boost Stamina and has the following powers:
One dot: Corpse Skin. You spend 1+ Yin. While active, social rolls are harder but you gain extral health levels.
Two dots: White Tiger Corpse. You spend 1 Yin and become invisible for a scene. You can also spend another Yin and three turns to turn your possessions invisible.
Three dots: Bone Obedience. You spend Yin and can grow bone talons, a bone sword, bone armor, rework your face or turn your finger into a key.
Four dots: Five Poison Cloud. You create a ten by ten cloud of poison that deals six dice of agg to everyone in it but you.
Five dots: Ch'ing Shih. I have no idea what this has to do with Ching Shih but whatever. You assume the 'ch'ing shih' form which drops your appearance to zero, causes all of your attacks to deal agg damage, lets you hit ghosts and gives you poisonous toxin in your attacks. If they are killed by the toxin, mortals rise as zombies that serve you. They die in one turn of sunlight.
Again, accurate for Jade Shintai. This buffs Strength in addition to:
1 dot: Stand upon the Dragon's Back. You can't be knocked down, knocked back or thrown because you are rooted to the earth.
2 dots: Tread the Thrashing Dragon's Tail. You can walk on anything, even water, walls or ceilings. You leave no footprints and Stealth rolls are easier. You take only half falling damage and your jumping distance is doubled.
3 dots: Placate the Earth Dragon. You spend 1 chi and attune yourself to the spirit world. This lets you merge with the earth or pass through walls.
4 dots: Harnessing the Dragon's Breath. You can tap into Chi lines and fly.
5 dots: Jade Servant of the August Personage. You can touch an element and emulate it, becoming freezing cold for water, crackle with electricity for metal, become rock hard for earth, become made of wood and thus hard and also having your attacks count as stakes for wood and becoming burning hot for fire.
And this is Flesh Shintai, which has again a roughly accurate character. This is the character for flesh or meat. This lets you raise Dexterity, and also:
1 dot: Long-Neck. You may extend your neck or limbs five feet per point of Stamina.
2 dots: Detach Limb. You may spend 1 Yang chi and detach your head or a limb. You control the detached piece, but if it is your head, your body is comatose. Your limbs can only see what your eyes can see.
3 dots: Lotus Cloud. You can spend 1 Yang chi to spit out a cloud of narcotics. Mortals become high and suggestible, while supernaturals, martial arts masters and hunters can roll Willpower to resist this. High characters can't take aggressive actions unless attacked, and are even that at -1 dice.
4 dots: Pelesit. Pelesit is a type of Malay demon. You may create one with Chi! It splits from your body and is made of your flesh. You take damage to give it more stats, and it lasts for one night. You heal if it re-merges with you before it dies. It is small, ugly and shrill.
5 dots: Ten Thousand Forms - you can take any humanoid form you like and can grow mutations like with Demon Shintai.
And this is Ghost-Flame Shintai! That is not a kanji character. That is not a character at all. It is a squiggle. It means nothing. Ghost-Flame can raise Stamina and:
One dot: Goblin Face. You can see in darkness and your bite deals 1 more damage than normal.
Two dots: Goblin Spark. You can spend Chi to create floating lights or stinging sparks that explode like firecrackers. These can blind people and can cause Rotschreck in normal vampires and Kuei-jin with less Yang than you.
Three dots: Goblin Shapes. You can create a vaguely human mass of light and flame. You can then craft it with Craft (Ghost-Flame) to reshape it as you like. It explodes when it touches someone, stealing some of their Chi (or other power point) and possibly stunning them for a turn.
Four dots: Goblin Scorch. You can shoot fire, which either deals agg damage or can hit spirits and damages Willpower. If you do that to someone with no Willpower, they take normal damage instead but also have to make a Willpower roll not to lose Humanity/Hun or gain a permanent Derangement. They get a temporary Derangement either way.
Five dots: Goblin Lantern. You become a ball of Chi fire, letting you either deal agg damage by touching things and set fire to stuff or touch spirits and deal Willpower damage as above. You can also blind people and fly.
Next time: Soul Disciplines, Rites and possibly even how to eat.
He must have access to one of the victim's orifices (not necessarily the nose or mouth).Original SA post Kindred of the East: He must have access to one of the victim's orifices (not necessarily the nose or mouth).
Soul Disciplines are the next type. They control the Hun and P'o, and botching on any roll to activate them causes a check for shadow nature. They are apparently very, very powerful.
Cultivation is the art of communing with and controlling the P'o.
1 dot: Scrutinize. You meditate or concentrate on someone and either pacify your own P'o and thus make it easier to resist the various natures, talk to your P'o directly or learn about the target's P'o archetype, Path, Virtues,Derangements or other traits related to the state of the soul. Botching thise, however, causes instant P'o takeover, no roll.
2 dots: Cleave the Demon. You spend Chi and concentrate to seperate your Hun and P'o. You roll your Hun and P'o against each other, and the winning pool controls the body while the other soul is pushed out and hovers nearby as a spirit. Huns get Gnosis, P'os get Rage. If you reduce the soul to zero chi, however, the vampire that owns it immediately goes into torpor. Both body and soul can take actions in a turn, have a telepathic link and can use Chi powers and Willpower, though only one can use them per turn. This lasts for a scene.
3 dots: Lash the Demon. You stare into someone's eyes, and then what happens depends on their Hun and P'o scores. If their Hun is higher, they become passive and suggestible, though you can't make them hurt people or themselves. If their P'o is stronger, they immediately enter fire soul. If equal, the two souls go to war; if the Hun wins the ensuing roll, nothing happens, but if P'o wins, then they immediately suffer P'o takeover. Against any normal vampire, ghoul or other thing with a Beast, the target immediately frenzies, while mortals become passive unless their bestial side is strong.
4 dots: Yoke the Demon. You concentrate and roll Hun against P'o. If the P'o wins, the vampire immediately suffers P'o takeover. If the Hun wins, though, it can't take over the body and can only act with permission; however, the user can't use Demon Chi or Demon Arts. The P'o can be used as a watchdog that spots things for you, and you get a fear aura for a scene.
5 dots: Two Become One. You spend a Willpower and merge Hun and P'o. You become immune to all soul natures, may use any P'o powers or Demon Arts without risk and any mind or emotion-controlling power must succeed on two separate checks or fail.
Chi'iu Muh, which the game translates as Dragon Tears, is the next Soul Discipline. I haven't a clue what it actually means. You also grow a third eye - at one and two dots, this takes the form of a circular gem in your forehead, while at higher levels it's an actual third eye, and at the fifth level it also glows. You can, however, retract it into your body. Saulot (excuse me, Zao-lat) stole this power, by the way.
One dot: Rasa. You get prophetic dreams, no roll or cost needed.
Two dots: Chi Sight: You spend Chi and get ghostsight, lifesight and heightened senses through it. Also, you can see all spirits in the area with a roll, can tell the strength of the local Gauntlet and can sense any local dragon nests. Also, you can read auras and detect the Passions of ghosts. This lasts a scene.
Three dots: Dragon Ward. You spend Willpower and roll against the local Gauntlet. After that, nothing can get within ten feet of you without winning an extended Willpower roll against you at risk of being paralyzed for a scene.
Four dots: Purification. While your Hun is dominant, you may sense Derangements of people nearby and can try to cure them, or to cleanse a defiled area. While P'o is dominant, you may bite someone and pump them with Demon Chi to infect them with psychic poison that causes them to obey you as a slave.
Five dots: Spirit-Eating. While Hun is dominant, you may remove a soul from someone by gazing into their eyes and pulling it into your third eye. They go into a catatonic state, and you may begin to purge their soul of sin by spending Willpower. You then presumably give it back later. While P'o is dominant, you remove the soul as above but feed it to your P'o. You can't use this on someone with higher Dharma than you. You then torture the soul and return it with a derangement...or you devour the soul. If you devour it, you lose a point of permanent Dharma unless you are a Devil-Tiger or serve a Yama King, but you gain the target's memories and Knowledge abilities for one day per point of their P'o, and they die.
Internalize is the third Soul Discipline. It is deisgned to channel inner strength.
One dot: No Mind. You may spend a Willpower to increase the difficulties to read and control your mind, raise the difficulty of frenzy and lose access to Cultivation, Obligation and Chi'iu Muh disciplines for a scene. Also, your aura turns blue-white.
Two dots: Blood Yoga. You spend Chi and meditate, and then you regain Willpower.
Three dots: Distant Death Kata: You spend a turn holding your breath, then spend a Willpower and may make a Melee, Martial Arts or Brawl attack as if in close combat with any target you can see. You need at least three successes, but they can't dodge, just soak.
Four dots: Iron Soul. You concentrate, and then when you spend Willpower you get more successes.
Five dots: Harmony with the All. You concentrate and rol lyour Dharma. If you succeed, you can't botch or suffer penalties to your dice pools or difficulties. You can use a weapon in each hand, attacking normally even after crippling damage, defend against multiple foes, etc. You may use skills you don't have as though they were talents - that is, with no penalty. You also resist mind control as if using No Mind and are immune to fire and shadow soul, though you can't use Demon Arts or Demon Chi. Also, you can't be ambushed or surprised and can try to detect invisible creatures. You may or may not get precognitive flashes. This lasts a scene.
Obligation is the final Soul Discipline. It lets you control people.
One dot: Evaluate. You concentrate and gain an understanding of another person, learning their personality traits, and possible their true name, basich istory or even things about themselves they don't know. If you're really lucky, you can also tell for the rest of the scene if they are lying, can detect Blood Bonds and know their Nature, willpower score and anyhting else the ST wants to tell you.
Two dots: Soul Bridge. You may get bonuses against someone on social rolls, read someone's surface thoughts or transmit empathic urges to someone. This doesn't work on Kuei-jin with higher Huns than you.
Three dots: Authority. You spend Willpower and make an Etiquette roll whose difficulty is based on what you're rolling against. You can't use this power on kuei-jin with higher Hun or Dharma scores than you. If you succeed, your Charisma and Manipulation are considered three points higher when rolled against affected targets. These targets also can't lie to you and obey you with little thought about why. This lasts a scene.
Four dots: Thousand Hell Stare. You spend a Willpower and glare at someone. You engage in a psychic struggle - if you win, they first lose a point of Willpower and get -1 to all dicepools, then lose another point and get to -3; they also can't attack you and will probably either run away or obey simple commands. After that, they become a cringing, submissive person who will do anything you ask that isn't self-destructive. Kuei-jin and vampires must check for Rotschreck. If you keep going after that, the target collapses for the rest of the scene and gets a permanent Derangement.
Five dots: Soul Shackles. You stare at someone and create a Friendship Bond with them, which is treated as a vinculum at 3. You may apply the power again to increase this to a "Giri Bond", which is treated as a vinculum at 6. Giri is a Japanese word meaning 'obligation', which in context mostly means self-sacrificing devotion. It may actually be a non-terrible word choice! You can do this a third time to establish a Spirit Bond, which is equivalent to a Blood Bond, except that it overrides even other Blood Bonds.
And now, rites! These are pretty similar to Werewolf rituals. They let you do things like petition ocal dragon spirits for luck, open doors to the spirit world, subdue a chih-mei, or many other things. I'm skipping these because it's...well, it's just rites. From werewolf. Only with ASIAN FLAVORING, and we already know what that looks like here.
And now, at last, how to eat. You take Chi out of human bodies. Or other supernatural beings, or places rich in Chi. However, you can't feed on animals. All kuei-jin can eat flesh. Living beings give mostly Yang, just-dead bodies give Yin and Yang equally, and cold corpses give mostly Yin. At Dharma 1, you get the ability to take Chi from blood, which can be turned int Yin or Yang by created the appropriate mood (by rolling the Chi virtue you want) and drinking their blood. This, unlike Flesh, regenerates rather easily. Eating flesh tends to, you know, kill people.
At Dharma 5, you get the ability to eat breath. You must have access to "one of the victim's orifices (which doesn't have to be the nose or mouth)", so...yeah. A powerful Asian vampire can suck your soul out via your asshole. This does not have to leave a wound, though each point of breath drained deals an automatic level of damage. A few points may go entirely unnoticed. At Dharma 6, you can feed via osmosis . You roll Yin or Yang against the local Gauntlet, and your Dharma must be equal to or higher than the Gauntlet. You then get (10-Gauntlet) points of Chi.
Next time: How to use Chi and an explanation for what Chi Balance actually refers to.
Most freakish of all - a Yang-aspected vampire is sufficiently human to impregnate a mortal!Original SA post Kindred of the East: Most freakish of all - a Yang-aspected vampire is sufficiently human to impregnate a mortal!
Today, we're starting off with Chi. Like normal vampires, kuei-jin spend power to wake up at night. However, they spend Chi instead, and the effects depend on whether they wake up with Yin or Yang Chi. With Yang Chi, they are considered "scarlet cycled" and are entirely normal. They spend one to get up every night. Yin Chi, however, lasts ten nights, and is called "black cycled". However, Yin Chi results in a deathly pallor and increases the difficulties of all social rolls involving mortals by one.
Now, imbalance. If your permanent Yin and Yang are more than two points apart, you are considered to be permanently imbalanced until they come within 2 points of each other. When suffering permanent Imbalance, you gain a Derangement based on the Chi type (for example, Depression or Intellectualization for Yin, and Mania for Yang).
Further, permanent Yin imbalance causes the vampire to have cold, corpselike flesh that halves all wound penalties. A Yin-imbalanced vampire may also resist fire damage with Stamina and requires one more success on P'o rolls to enter fire soul. However, they must awaken with Yin every night, and while they get all the penalties for that, it takes one per night rather than one per ten nights. All Hun rolls increase in difficulty by 1, and any Chi roll botches or burns by sunlight cause you to lose a dot of Appearance permanently. At zero, you appear to be a walking corpse, and are referred to as ch'ing shih or xiang shih in China. (These are the same word, and as mentioned this same word has been used multiple times so far.) Even Asians will not ignore a zombie walking around - they're sure to call in a witch-hunter of some kind.
Permanent Yang Imbalanced vampires may survive indirect sunlight for up to an hour with no problems and can stand direct sunlight for (Stamina*5) minutes without harm. However, the P'o needs one fewer success to cause fire soul, and you can be forced to test for fire soul based on being horny or hungry. You take one extra die of damage from fire, and you must make a Stamina roll each month to avoid becoming a disease carrier. You also are considered ravenous when you have five or fewer total Chi points and uncontrollable at two or fewer - one step sooner than normal for each. Oh, and you're fertile. Female yang-aspected vampires can get pregnant, and male ones can impregnate.
Pregnant vampires need to remain Yang imbalanced and must spend an additional Yang each day to get up; if she doesn't, she miscarries. If the baby is born they are a dhampyr (an Albanian ) word). Mortals bear dhampyr babies normally.
Temporary imbalance, conversely, is caused when you have more Chi points of a type of Chi than your Chi rating. For example, you have Yang 4 and 7 points of Yang chi. Temporary imbalance means that if you botch any roll that you had to spend Chi on, you lose all Chi in excess of your Chi rating and suffer one level of automatic agg damage per point. You may soak this with a Stamina roll and must check for wave soul. With no Chi of a certain type, you are also considered imbalanced in the other direction (so no Yin and 2 Yang means you are Yang imbalanced). You just have to get the right amount of Chi in you to fix this.
Now, Faith rules. Kuei-jin can never have True Faith. Monotheistic expressions of Faith treat them as they do any other vampire. However, polytheistic or nontheistic Faith causes them to flee in shame rather than causing physical pain.
Kuei-jin can use dragon lines similarly to hengeyokai, by the way. In fact, basically identically. It's Moon Bridges only not tied to moon signs. They can also step sideways, but don't require a reflective surface. Instead, they need a special ritually-prepared piece of jade. When used, they may cross the Gauntlet for free after spending five minutes preparing, or may spend Chi to try to go faster. They can cross back only at that spot unless they have a second piece of jade to cross back with, and their piece of jade that they leave behind must be intact for them to cross back.
As for what sunlight actually does to them: Normally, they may withstand the sun for (Stamina-temporary Yin points) minutes, to a max of 9. This is cumulative and resets every 24 hours. After that, they take one agg per turn and lose one dot of all physical attributes, one dot of Appearance and one point of Yin. If they hit zero in all physical attributes, they cannot Yin. While in sunlight, they cannot spend Yin Chi, but may spend a point of Yang to ignore its penalties for one turn. Instead of Humanity, kuei-jin use the higher of Hun and Dharma to see if they can stay up during the day.
Next time: History lessons.
The arrival of the Inquisition was greeted with harshnesss by both the mortal and vampiric populations.Original SA post Kindred of the East: The arrival of the Inquisition was greeted with harshnesss by both the mortal and vampiric populations.
Okay. We get history of the Kuei-Jin now. Again. They started out in Tibet, apparently, and split into five courts, each with its own emperor. One went north and became the Court of the Black Tortoise (which ruled Manchuria and northern China), the Court of the White Tiger (which stayed in Tibet), the Court of the Yellow Emperor (which ruled the Yellow River), the Court of the Azure Dragon (which went to Korea and Japan) and the Court of the Scarlet Phoenix (which went to the "distant jungles of the south").
In China, the kuei-jin are most numerous and oldest. They are also kind of imperialist and want to rule all the kuei-jin, apparently. They are also the most traditionalist of the kuei-jin. They were established by the time of the Shang Dynasty - approximately 1600 BCE. They had a bunch of blood cults and took human sacrifices, and were pretty open about their own existence. They also wrote a lot of books about philosophy, and this was called the Scrivening because they are pretensious.
When the Shang fell to the Chou (also called Zhou) Dynty, the kuei0jin were sent into hiding, however, as the Chou had a number of hunters with them, descended from a powerful sorcerer named Yi. Lots of vampires died. Later, Confucius and Lao Tzu rose, and the vampires stole their ideas.
When Qin Shi Huangdi took power, hunters used his reign as a chance to destroy tons of kuei-jin books and kill more vampires, except the ones who sealed themselves in caves. But first, a digression on that man Yi. Remember that myth with the ten suns? Yeah, it's reprised - except the suns were created by the vampires to burn their foes and dry the rivers. Yi made magic arrows and shot nine of the suns from the sky, after which Yi cursed the vampires to be burned by the tenth, true sun. His descendants became the Shih, a group of vampire hunters and witch hunters for hire.
When the Mongolian Yuan Dynasty arose, the kuei-jin had their first run-in with the west - specifically, some Giovanni vampires who were hanging with Marco Polo. They met and declared a treaty to rule the kuei-jin against the West, which in modern days they want to revive. (It collapsed in the 19th century.)
We then skim of pretty much everything until the 19th century, when Britain took Hong Kong and thus shattered that treaty, along with hostilities between China and Jpan. The rise of Communist China led to the conquest of Tibet...and every vampire who has gone to Tibet with the occupying forces has vanished completely. The vampire holy sites in Tibet are inaccessible. No one knows why.
In Japan, the kuei-jin have always consider themselves seperate, apparently. Instead of the wu, they have uji, a somewhat defunct Japanese term for a lineage. Which are basically a wu. Except they are ruled by a daimyo. The Bishamon and Genji are the two strongest uji in Japan. Because a Buddhist deity a name for the Imperial Clan make sense here. The Bishamon are traditionalists, and the GEnji are "wild and loose" and love corporate culture. The Bishamon, by the way, served as gods for the early cultures of Japan, the Jomon and Yayoi. Then they were conquered by Chinese vampires who apparently rode sea serpents. These were the Genji. Then the Bishamon vanished for three centuries, reappeared and defeated the Genji only to abruptly stop fighting and hire the Genji as spies and assassins in the early Heian period. We skip ahead to the 1500s, when Catholic witch-hunter/missionaries arrive in Japan and kill some kuei-jin. This was the real reason that the island was closed off to foreigners for two centuries!
Vampires than ceased to matter until the 20th century. The destruction of shrines and skyrocketing population made their dragon nests lose power as railroads destroyed the dragon lines and the island was Westernized. Kuei-jin helped Japan fight China in World War II, and those battle still rage now. The Genji are actually making deals with Western vampires, which pisses everyone off, and that's really it for Japan. Oh, wait, one thing. The atomic bombs are referred to as the Burnings, and they poisoned the island's chi and corrupted the vampires' communion with Japan.
Korea! In Korea, the kuei-jin are diplomats between other vampires. They hae always preferred to be neutral, and recently are kind of low on jade. The kuei-jin spent a lot of time fighting each other for jade in their early history, but finally won by the tenth century and banded together to stop further war. This led to their diplomacy - and yes, the organization of this section is this confusing. Anyway, they hate Westerners as a result of the 19th century, when Westerners arrived. Like, they really hate Westerners. Oh, and the Japanese vampires have held a grudge against them for 600 years and took it out on them during World War II.
On to Southeast Asia! The jungles of the southeast are apparently teeming with weird shit, and have a reputation for having more akuma than normal. They are also seen as decadent and barbaric due to adopting unorthodox practices from Hindu and Muslim visitors. Oh, and vampires are irrelevant pretty much until the Vietnam War. Which they loved, because it provided them tons and tons and tons of food. They also loved the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia for the same reason. In a sidebar, we learn that Singapore is strange in that the local vampires actually cooperate despite being a mix of kindred and kuei-jin. This is considered very strange. The other kuei-jin do not like it.
Next time: Modern Asia! ...wait, didn't that get included in this one? Apparently not.
Where the only fact of life is that it will very likely be shorter than you thought.Original SA post Kindred of the East: Where the only fact of life is that it will very likely be shorter than you thought.
Okay. Modern nights, apparently, have to have their own section. China is seperated into various cities, so we'll start with Beijing: The blood Court. The locals are rather annoyed at the appearance of a handful of Kindred in Beijing. They have a lot of control in Beijing, but it's slipping. Oh, and the mausoleum of Mao Zedong is a tainted place that wells up at night with evil chi, which some of them feed on. The leaders of the local Kuei-Jin hold court in the Forbidden City, where normal chi wells up. Tourists are locked out starting at 5:30 and the kuei-jin rule there. Apparently a Kindred made his way in once but got lost and never came out. Apparently they must also have janitors, because no one notices that vampires use the place for lots of business every night. There's also the Underground City of Qianmen, which is a set of tunnels built in case of bombing. The local Kindred love the place, and it is home to an Italian Giovanni who is the strongest Kindred in Beijing. For those not in with the Blood Court, local kuei-jin end up hiding in tny allies and forgotten rooms.
Shanghai: the Flesh Court! In Shanghai, vampires buy illegal children on the black market to eat. No, really. The leaders of the Shanghai vampires...well, are constantly changing, because the Japanese and Chinese vampires are still at war. It is overseen by the Silent Mandarins, a group of vampires who basically try to keep the place alive. Oh, and this:
I have no idea.
On to Hong Kong: the Flame Court! Hong Kong has been under the hold of Western power for 150 years. The local kuei-jin are planning to fight against that and the Western Kindred. They rule over the boat people of Hong Kong - that is, the huge flotilla of houseboats. They also have stakes in the 14K Triad, who are at war with a local Tremere group lead by a man named Oliver Thrace. Also, there's some demon hunters.
And now, to Tibet! Tibet has a naturally low Gauntlet. It is also sealed to vampires. There are no vampires in Tibet! Any who go there suffer spiritual attacks, suffering constantly while in the area as though around a True Faith rating of 1; the deeper they go, the worse it gets.
Okay. Japan. Tokyo is split between old and new. The locals are kind of engaged in a civil war. The Imperial Palace is is Gauntlet 6 and rarely visited by mortals; I think the Japanese traditionalist vampires use it, but it's not clear. A few blocks east is the Zero Kilometer, the 'center of all of Japan' for vampires. It is a nexus of Chi, and every temple in Japan with vampires in it feeds off that source. It is off limits to everyone but the most powerful vampires. Oh, and some vampires "latch on to the back of a train and surf the third rail to their destination." Because they can. There is surprisingly little mention of that internal strife.
Hiroshima and Nagasaki, now. When the bombs were dropped, every vampire on the island had their P'o literally try to rip its way out of them. No vampire can enter Hiroshima and Nagasaki now except akuma, due to the Chi there. And yes, that is all of the Japan section.
Korea! Korea is a traveller's rest area for vampires, with a large route of safehouses threading throughout it. This is called the Parallel Path, and pretty much anyone with money can learn about it. It's a dangerous trip, as a result, because anyone can pay to find out about it - such as the people chasing you. And that is pretty much all that's interesting.
Now, "Southeast Asia". These guys are pretty much in constant war, we are told. Thailand has a bunch of white slavery rings run by vampires, and the vampires also trade in drugs in Bangkok. Also, they love to set up pit fights between vampires and animals - or between vampires and captured shifters.
The Vietnamese vampires fight any outsiders, except in the Apocalypse Now Club of Saigon, which serves as a neutral zone for all parties. They control the Cu Chi Tunnels of the Viet Cong, where they store captive Kindred and even hengeyokai, which are tortured for information and Chi.
Singapore is run by a kuei-jin group as much as its actual government does, as far as I can tell. The local Kindred are tolerated, though. There's not much interesting here, except the note that you get caned for chewing gum. Which I understand is true.
Indonesia's kuei-jin tend to stick to rural areas, where they rule the mortal populace. There is a powerful Chi site, the Monas, in Jakarta. The Japanese kuei-jin want to take control of it. That's about it.
In Cambodia and Laos...well, not much. It's a wasteland and there's not much there.
Oh, and now the kuei-jin arem oving outward as well, via Chinatowns in America. The Kindred have not detected them because the Chinatowns are insular. They plan to try and take control of the world from the Camarilla.
We also get a bit on the Spirit Worlds but that was better covered in Hengeyokai.
Next time: The ST Advice Chapter. Oh boy.
The dragons groan beneath the tread of the West.Original SA post Kindred of the East: The dragons groan beneath the tread of the West.
Okay. The ST section talks about the themes of kuei-jin stories first. S uch themes include balance versus imbalance, which the book characterizes as being about "karmic debt" and passions versus entropy. It never really explains what it means by balance and imbalance, except in terms of Yin and Yang. Which...well, I suppose it could be worse. Oh, and another bite at westerners, this time from the omniscient OOC narration.
Then, a more understandable one: Tradition versus change. Which the book has so far been portraying as East versus West, but now it tells us that young kuei-jin often like the changes brought in. Which is not really seen anywhere else in the book.
Destiny versus Joss - joss being, again, 'luck.' In terms of the game...well, free will versus fate doesn't actually seem to play a part, and the book moves on quickly to Group versus Individual. Which...I guess has been slightly focused on in that the wu are meant to be loyal to each other above themselves, but the book has again not talked about it much.
And now we get East versus West, which gets much more text. It talks about tradition versus change again, and also:
Kindred of the East posted:
Never ones to escape the karmic order of things, the Children of Caine espouse free will; the challange of long-accepted ideals; florid, purple tales of personal woe and damnation; and the tragedy of being trapped in an endless night.
Kuei-jin don't give a damn about all that overwrought angst-ridden bullshit. Their unlives are ones of horror, true, but they all know that, ultimately, they are locked outside the cycle of life and death. Whether they actively pursue their own reintegration into the Great Cycle or approach unlife as the blackest of terrors is a personal choice.
Which is...well, I'm not actually sure where the conflict is here, beyond a jab at Vampire being angsty and whiny. We are also reminded that Kuei-Jin (and Vampire as a whole) have 'the pecking order' as a theme, which is just a reminder that there's always someone who can crush you like a bug, yadda yadda. Morality and Redemption versus Damnation also seem to contradict that quote above.
We are also told that Kuei-jin stories should be exotic.
Kindred of the East posted:
The shen of the Middle Kingdom may not even superficially resemble their Western counterparts. Politics among them is certainly different, as are the customs and practices of every individual the players encounter. Even relations with street people and "mundanes" should leave the characters' wu with a sense of curiosity and awe.
The Middle Kingdom is large, vicious and fraught with peril. It is not a place for boorish Westerners - or boorish Easterners! Making every event memorable and subtly (or blatantly) strange goes a long way towards building the mystique of the East.
Then, after a digression on how Asia is also amazingl violent and on conflicts between supernatural groups, we're told that Asia should always be mysterious and unknown to everyone but the ST. You know, whatever, I like mysteries. But still, this is...something. After this, a fairly boring chapter on the powers of other magical critters in Asia, who all eventually got their own books - hengeyokai, mages, hsien (read: changelings-ish), spirits, ghosts and the like. Oh, and hunters. Japan's government funds a team of technologically advanced monster hunters.
And that's it for the book! Finally done!
Now, tell me - is it time for Gypsy, or shall we take a short break to examine the history of the world of Theah and the completely insane alien-ridden backstory of 7th Sea, the game about playing a swashbuckling hero?