Creepy Weirdo Ninja Forest Land

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Ninja Crusade: Land of Seed and Blossom - Creepy Weirdo Ninja Forest Land

The Land of Seed and Blossom is exotic, dangerous and very much unlike the Izou Empire. It was conquered some four centuries ago and has been mocked as weak and cowardly ever since, but its ninja remain terrifying in their power over nature, life and death. The claims that a Blossom ninja can kill a healthy man with a single touch are not far exaggerated, but the Land of Seed and Blossom has always been a peaceful place...until recently. The local people not hate their ninja, certainly not the way many in the Empire do. They embrace them. The ninja are looked to for leadership and expertise. They can often go without need for disguise, in those areas not ruled by the occupying Izou. However, the Izou stranglehold has been tightening, as the Emperor tries to weed out their ninja, and it's led to a general dissent among the Blossom and even a desire for uprising.

The Blossom ninja clans also aren't usually at each other's throats, again unlike the Izou. They work together for the most part, like a family - albeit a rather dysfunctional family. The reason is in the origins of the two nations. The Izou Empire was born in blood and battle, and is ruled over by a single absolute leader. They are used to competing for power, to rule by an arbitary and unpredictable authority. The Blossom clans were born out of need, to help preserve the Blossom people and their culture. They help to run the government and the nation. To the Blossom, ninja are teachers and shamans that keep the nation balanced, spiritually speaking. Their history, as they tell it, is one of Seven Catastrophes, each birthing a ninja clan.

Legends of the Catastrophes are passed down in traditional stories and are the basis of Immortalism, the central religion of the Land of Seed and Blossom. This history is not one of exact dates, but always is in the same order, no matter who tells it. The First Catastrophe was the Invention of Man. At the dawning of time, humans crept out of the se and lived as wild beasts - the worst of beasts, in fact. They murdered each other, ate each other, thought of little but survival and the pleasure of the kill. In their infancy, they threatened to destroy themselves. This was solved by the coming to the Land of Lu Dongbin, the first Immortal. Legend says that his skin was a deep, crimson red, and that he had many arms which wielded many weapons, and eyes of diamond. He had power over the fires of life, mesmerizing those humans that met him. He could turn mountains into crystal with a mere touch. He was a god to these humans, and he showed them a look at a new world.

Lu Dongbin's first great act was to implant a mystical jewel into the forehead of each human, opening their third eye to the flow of chi. This gave them language and emotional stability, inventing the ideas of tradition and culture. Under Lu Dongbin's teachings, the BLossom people established territory, invented education and etiquette and became somewhat civilized. Some refused to kneel to the Immortal, rejecting civilization and peace. These people fled west, it is said, to found the lands that would become Izou and the Land of Five Blades, so violent and conflicted. Once Lu Dongbin was certain he had taught the Blossom people all his most vital lessons, he left to find adventure. He did not, however, leave his people alone and unguided. He imbused a chosen few with a bit of his divine power. These would be the first ninja in the world, the Shouka Clan. Theirs was the futy of embedding the Birthstone into the forehead of every newborn, a tradition that has survived to this day. These ninja are now known as the Crystal Bearers, the bringers of Lu Dongbin's blessings.

The Second Catastrophe was the Plague of Trees. The people became confident and polite, but they found a land ot the east, the Untamed Wilds, which were full of trees and wild beasts. This was fine, when humans too were beasts, but now, they needed food, shelter and protection from the deadly jungle predators. The beasts of the jungle killed man each day, and starvation killed more. It was enough to drive people from the Land, but many were far too sick even to travel, due to toxins and poisonous fruits from the Untamed Wilds. Thus came the second Immortal, Iron Crutch Li. He appeared to be a man with dark skin, who walked with an iron crutch. He hide among the people, pretending to fear the wild and helping to care for the sick and hurt. He was touched by the unity of the Blossom people in these terrible conditions, and so he revealed his true nature - a man of bright green skin, with a beard of vines and hair of autumn leaves.

Iron Crutch Li taught the Blossom how to live as one with the land, how to cultivate food in the jungle and to carve away the dangerous places. He taught them agriculture and how to use it. He also taught them how to found cillages and cities, turning the Land of Seed and Blossom into a nation rather than a collection of disparate tribes. He took on apprentices, teaching them the arts of making potions and the pursuit of immortalty. Thus were born the Bamboo Alchemists, who went on to cure many diseases and began a golden age of prosperity. He also told the ninja that more immortals would come, when the people again had to be set on the right path.

The Third Catastrophe was the Culling of the Lambs. With peace and happiness came the invention of Caste and a boom in childbirth. Having a large family was seen as a sign of wealth and status, with some having as many as twenty children. Due to the medical advances of Iron Crutch Li, the people lived longer and had no fear of death. There was a danger of imbalance and overpopulation, which would ruin the Land. Thus came Zhongli Quan, whose skin was black as oil and whose face was painted with a skull. He appeared in the center of the Land in a great explosion. He told the Blossom that they had wasted the bounty they had been given. He whirled his fan, which was made of fire, and in one wave he destroyed an entire city and all who lived within.

Zhongli Quan wandered the land, striking those that would take from others to become stronger. He knew that honor could not be gained by draining the land of its resources. Instead, he called on the people to practice filial piety. They must respect age above all - for the eldest would have the most descendants, as their children bore children. Yet with this respect must be a law: no parents should have more than two children at any given time - only once their children had grown to raise their own families could more children be had. The eldest man and eldest woman would be at the top of this hiearchy, leading the government. Zhongli Quan did not kill alone. He found a man, Yakyubyo, whom he entrusted with the duty of culling the unworthy. This man and his Kouhei Clan were given the power of disease, should another purge ever be needed. Thus was the clan of Yakyubyo's Pox founded, with the best of all warriors. Fear of them was enough to teach the Blossoms temperance in reproduction.

The Fourth Catastrophe was the Calming of the Dead. Life had returned to normal, but the people were fearful. They had buried so many dead in the wake of Zhongli Quan's wrath and the aggression of Yakyubyo's Pox. The ground overflowed with death, the land stinking of rot and pestilence. Perhaps draining the life from the earth or the hungle, some of the bodies rose by night to cause horror and chaos. The ninja fought these zombies, but this was only a temporary solution. It was an enemy that the Crystal Bearers could not negotiate with, that the Bamboo Alchemists could not cure and that the Yakyubyo's Pox could not destroy.

Thus came Zhang Guo, who rode in backwards upon his white mule, playing a lute. He had no teeth, no pupils in his eyes and he spoke only in a whisper. It is said that he rode his mule through a field of the dead and was left untouched by their grasps. Thus, he cam eto put order to what was broken, calming the dead with his magic song. He taught the Blossom the proper funeral rites - more than just burying the dead or leaving them to be devoured by beasts. He used his necromantic power to play a song that sent the dead back to their eternal sleep. He called for those willing to keep watch over the dead, founding the Phantom Voices. These ninja he taught the death rites to and spread them through the Land to oversee funerals and dispose of the dead. Thus, the Land was cleansed of death and the future made brighter.

The Fifth Catastrophe was the Poisoned Bodies. Decades came and went in peace, but the Land was made insular. The Blossom people slowly began to look outside their own world, to see what other nations had to offer. To ensure their safety, the Elders sent forth emissaries to other cultures. Meanwhile, many outsiders came to visit the Land and experience its joys. Somewhere in this time, a young boy named Fa contracted a wasting disease from one of these foreigners. It is commonly believed that this disease was caused by the Slithering Gods, given their ambitions and proximity, but there is little proof. The Bamboo Alchemists could find no cure for this sickness, for it was too strong for them. It soon spread across the Land, killing thousands. Without help, the Land would be doomed, for the people had no resistance to this plague.

When things were at their worst, a woman appeared. She was the fifth Immortal, LAdy He Xiangu, who was beautiful and fair of skin, with long red robes, and she carried a lotus flower. She demanded to meet the first carrier of what was called the Fa Disease. She took the boy and kissed his Birthstone, filling with magic which cured him easily. However, to cure the entire Land was too much even for an Immortal, so she chose certain women, honing their purity of body and spirit that they too might make the cure to Fa Disease within their chi. She granted mastery over the blood, forming the Sisterhood of Blood, and when she was finished, she walked into the Ouka River and vanished. It was in this time that the Bamboo Herbalists broke off from the Bamboo Alchemists, leaving the Land for the Izou. Any other clan would have been very weakened, but there had always been many Alchemists and they lost no apparent power in the split.

The Sixth Catastrophe was the Loss of Joy. This came when the Izou were no longer content with their borders. Their power grew such that the Land could not resist them. War spread across the world, as the Empire attacked all of its neighbors at once. The Blossom stood strong and were able to push the invaders back for a time, using walls of wood and crystal and wielding plague, blood and death. The people rejoiced, confident that the ninja could always protect them, and for years, there was no sign of further aggression. No one saw it coming when the Land of Five Blades and the Izou worked together to attack. The power of the ninja was nearly halved in an instant, and many cities and monuments were destroyed in the battles - particularly the Seiseki Temples, where once the Birthstone Imbuing ceremonies had been held.

It was not long before the Elders were forced to surrender. The Izou and Five Blades armies occupied several cities and sectioned off much of hte land, and there was nothing even the ninja could do to stop them. Lan Caihe, the Sixth Immortal, came son after - but in secret, and not with intent to call the attention of the enemy. They chose instead to help the people. Caihe appeared as human, but entirely asexual, with neither male nor female features. The spirits of the people were at their lowest, and Lan Caihe taught them that they must always celebrate their culture, despite any failures or sadness. Born of their teachings were the Splendid Chameleons. Lan Caihe taught the ninja to manipulate their bodies in many ways, to amuse the people. The ninja traveled the lands, bringing happiness in a time of despair. The Izou thought their spirits broken, but they were wrong.

The Seventh Catastrophe came a mere 200 years ago - the Wild Infestation. A species of insect, the suu, came out of the Untamed Wilds and attacked the Land. Search parties were sent to destroy suu nests, but none were ever found. The suu devoured vegetation and stored food quicly. The nation was blighted, and many died of starvation or turned to terrible acts for a taste of food. The Emperor called away many of his armies for lack of food, supplementing the occupation with Five Blades warriors.

Han Xiang, the Seventh Immortal, emerged from the wilds. He was a man composed entirely of suu insects, and he gave power over the suu to a single family, the first Immortal ever to choose only one bloodline for their gifts. His appearance was not to teach a lesson, however. His goal was simple: incite unrest in the Land. The people needed to drive out death and hunger and oppression, but they were too beaten to do so alone. With control of the suu, however, they might do it. It is said that this would be the final gift to the ninja, and that the seventh Immortal split himslef into suu, to hide within the bodies of those who would be the Grim Creepers. Thus, the planning could begin for a new world.

The Eighth Catastrophe is coming. Change is slow in the Land, even with the new clan born two centuries ago. The Izou remain strong in occupation, as the Elders have commanded peace. Both male and female Elder were descended from the crystal Bearers, and have always favored nonviolence...until the Elder male, Ge Hong, died peacefully in his sleep. A new Elder was needed, and after an exhaustive search, one of Yakyubyo's Pox came forward to claim the title. This man, Sunzi, pushes for uprising constantly. To him, it is necessary to remain a nation at all. The other Elder, Mei Chin, preached peace and softens his words, leaving him unable to effective implement change. However, Sunzi turned many against this peace...and eventually, Mei Chin was assassinated.

The new female Elder, Wang Anyi of the Splendid Chameleons, agrees with Sunzi that the people must rebel against the Izou. Together, they have given word to begin preparation to evict the Izou army from Seed and Blossom. This, the Blossom Uprising, has put the land into a great state of change. The Blossom ninja are not hiding from a hunting army - they are waging a guerrilla war against an occupying force. They favor surprise attacks, bombings and other guerrilla tactics. So far, however, the Izou have proved too numerous and difficult to defeat outright. The Blossom are now awaiting an eighth Immortal, to cement the Uprising as correct and to bless them, that it might succeed in cleansing the land of enemies.

You might think that the Blossom Uprising and the Lotus Coalition would be allies against the Izou army. However, the Blossom people are proud and rather xenophobic. To them, an Izou ninja is no different than an Izou soldier. The Uprising is to cleanse all outsiders from their land - every last one. Not only this, but the Lotus have noticed the Uprising and have been using it as a decoy to draw attention away from their efforts. They have planted evidence exaggerating the number of soldiers and assassinations of the Uprising, forcing the Emperor to commit more troops to the Land of Seed and Blossom. This has allowed them to launch several surprise attacks on the Izou successfully, at the cost of the Blossom. That's not to say they could never work toegether - but it would take a lot of patience to reach a national-scale alliance. Otherwise, it's all on the individual. Even the Sisterhood of Blood, the most peaceful of the Blossom ninja clans, has had to deal with bloody ninja conflict on the Izou border for centuries - no one's exactly looking at any Izou as friends.

Blossom ninja are, to a great extent, chosen from birth. as the Birthstone Imbuing ceremony is performed by the Crystla Bearers, a shimmer can be seen in the jewel if the child is destined to be ninja. The brighter the shimmer, the more powerful they will be. Typically, such a child is left with their family, but watched over by ninja as they grow - usually the same Crystal Bearers that implanted the Birthstone. When they come of age, they are given a chance to join one of the seven clans. No Blossom would dare refuse. If a ninja offers power, you take it. Period. Gifts given by the Immortals are rare, and to refuse it to be cursed by the clan that offered the gift. A Crystal Bearer might rmeove your ability to manipulate chi, while Yakyubyo's Pox might kill you.

However, if the Birthstone shows enough power, the ninja may ask for the child straight away. Parents are heavily encouraged, traditionally, to give away their child. The child is never lied to - they are told that the Immortals ahve chosen them and they have been taken from their normal life. When they become adults, they may choose to seek out and reconnect with their birth parents, knowing that they have received the best possible preparation for the wars to come.

From the moment a ninja joins a clan, they have a new, expansive family. They leave their past and usually their birth surname behind, taking the clan name or an entirely new one. Like the Izou, the BLossom ninja follow a master/student relationship, and most teachers never take on more than three students at a time - there are no sensei teaching entire villages. Students, to the Blossom, are family first and ninja trainee second. They must be given as much love and attention as your own child. Students are often housed with their teacher, doing errands in exchange for meals and training. Secondly, there just aren't a ton of ninja, compared to before the coming of the Izou. There aren't that many students available today, as many Blossom are killed or begin to believe the Imperial propaganda, that their own civilization is primitive and backwards.

For the Blossoms, community and family are vital. Even before a child knows their own name, they understand their place in the family. Most Blossoms see themselves as part of a larger organism - the community. Travelers often find that the Blossoms lack individuality, compared to the Izou...but it comes from the way the nations were bor, One was born on the backs of the conquered, the other on the bones of its own people. For the Blossom, togetherness is what keeps them alive. Knowing that family and the elders are the most important keeps them going. Family, as they define it, is more than blood. Your friends are an extended family, your teachers, everyone in your village is, to a greater or lesser extent, your family. Beyond that, your province, then the nation. You are a vital piece in the puzzle that is the Land of Seed and Blossom. This internal loyalty means that even the most antagonistic clans have a bond of unity that does not exist among the Izou ninja or even Izou society as a whole. You squabble with family, sure, but ultimately you aren't true enemies.

Immortalism is a very powerful faith among the Blossoms. They go to shrines to pray to the seven Immortals that are known and to pray for the coming of the Eighth, perhaps final, Immortal. These shrines are sacred, kept in every village, and travelers have been killed for even leaning on the buildings for too long. Sacred places must be respected. It's not just faith, either. The tradition of imbuing the Birthstone grants a bit of the spirit of the Immortals to your soul. Even the least of the Blossom citizens will, if not killed, live to well into their 130th year or more before they die, and on average they tend to live about 30% longer than any other land's people. With this age, they know, comes knowledge. Blossom society respects age above all else, and they believe that age brings wisdom. Crimes against the elderly are punished far more harshly than other crimes, especially if the victim is influential. This is also why the Land is ruled over by the eldest man and eldest woman still living. Blossom ninja can expect to, on average, live to around 160 - or twice that, for Bamboo Alchemists. This means that ninja are often seen as agents of the Immortals and revered by the people. If a ninja needs food or a bed, they can get it. They must be careful not to take advantage too much, however, for fear of turning hte people against Immortalism and towards the Izou.

The idea of Class as a hierarchy in the way the Izou use it does not exist within the Blossoms. They believe that all are born equal, with ninja only slightly ahead due to chi manipulation. It is on the individual to determine what Caste they will become, rising or falling over the course of their life rather than being a single Class from birth. If your parents rose to a high Caste, however, you are expected to at least match and ideally surpass them if possible. Falling short of your predecessors brings shame to your family and friends. This drives most people to at least try, but also prompts those born to lower caste families to try and remain at that level, so they do not overburden their children. Ninja, too, are bound by caste. They are at a slight remove from society, sure, which prevents their birth families from being dishonored by their actions, but they must still better themselves or be seen as weak by their clan.

The Blossom recgonize six Castes. First is the Gatherer caste. Every citizen is born a Gatherer, and most do not remain so unless they are children or have no goals whatsoever. The dutiy of a Gatherer is to see to basic necessities - farming, basic commerce and gathering resources. They are rarely left to do so alone, and are not seen as adults. A physically adult person that remains a Gatherer is usually seen as crippled, mentally deficient or criminally lacking in motivation unless they have a very strong reason. Ninja of the Gatherer caste are almost certianly children, as the clans push their students to excel early. Those that cannot make it beyond this Caste are doomed to be poor ninja at best, and Yakyubyo's Pox has been known to just kill such students.

The next caste is the Family Bearer caste. Family Bearers are adults by societal tradition, having passed a series of trials to prove responsibility, integrity, strength and ingenuity. Children tend to prepare for these trials around age 13, and the actual tests vary by region and are influenced by local Immortal legends. In Grim Creeper land, for example, a child may have to put on a glove full of fire ants to resist the poison, while a Phantom Voice village may require them go on a spirit quest into the forest, with only ghosts to guide them home. Once the trials are complete, you are an adult and a Family Bearer. You may now own property and work without constant supervision, as well as get married and have kids. When you get married, you will be given a bit of land and some cattle. Marriage and having kids is heavily encouraged but not mandatory. All ninja are expected to at least reach the Family Bearer caste.

Some citizens remain Family Bearers forever - basically, peasants. Some, however, are not complacent, and aspire to the Hunter caste. Being a Hunter is more than just going out with a spear - you can train for years to try and hit the level of a Hunter. Typically, one must prove triumphant over much larger prey than yourself and share it with your village in a big celebration. Hunters always carry a trophy of their first kill, and can easily be spotted by that trophy. Many believe that one cannot be a true warrior until they reach the Hunter caste, and the skills taught to reach the caste are very useful for a ninja. Yakyubyo's Pox is noted for its very large number of Hunters.

To leave the Land of Seed and Blossom, you must rise to Adventurer caste. You must have succeeded on several large hunts to prove yourself. Once you do, you may now wander as you like in the Land and beyond. Your Birthstone also sparkles to show others that your journey has no destination. Leaving the Land is a huge deal for a Blossom, exhilirating and terrifying. In another land, you have no family, few friends, and must represent all Blossoms. Some choose to go, but many never do, instead only going to different parts of the Land, or into the Untamed Wilds...ideally with a ninja guide, given the dangers there. Ninja of the Adventurer caste tend to be worldly and hard to trick, and often more tolerant of Izou ninja than most, or at least less likely to start fights with them. Understanding other people is a vital Adventurer skill, after all.

Once one has become experienced and wise, one can reach for the Advisor caste, reputed to be what Adventurers become when their journey is finished. Many, however, skip directly to Advisor - it's not hard, if your life has been eventful. Advisors have the duty of guiding the young. They are the generals, strategists and community leaders. They ensure all proper rituals are observed, including the Birthstone tradition and the rites of passage to rise or fall in Caste. This is as high as you can go if you are not the eldest person in your community, and it's a highly respected Caste. Many ninja strive to reach this level, earning a position of power in their clan.

The Chief caste belongs exclusively to the eldest in a community, who rules over the village, town or city. They answer only to the Elders...and there is a price. The Chief can rarely live a normal life. The people are constantly around them, adoring and serving them, and they muts create a legacy that their children must strive to live up to. Chiefs often make loose alliances with their neighbors, but can easily be rivals, too. They look to their Advisors to help them choose how to act and how to gain and control territory, but ultimately, decisions are their responsibility. They trade the freedom of trael for a leadership role.

It cannot, however, be said that the Izou have not influenced the Blossoms. They've been around for 750 years, and run the nation for almost half that time. Other nations often see the Blossoms as cowards, having peacefully surrendered in 326 IE, after a decade of war. However, the Blossoms are proud that they, alone of all nations, have never been the aggressor in any way whatsoever. For a long time, the Izou and Blossom ninja were always fighting each other, and this is one of the many reasons that hte Blossoms don't especially care to help the Lotus Coalition. After all, in the invasion of the Land, it was the Izou ninja who did the worst to the people. While the Blossoms have been strong, over all, in retaining their beliefs and culture, many have come to follow the Izou belief system. More and more children have no faith in the Immortals and little respect for their elders. Some families have even chosen not to have their children implanted with a Birthstone, hoping it will make the Izou soldiers treat them better.

Even the Elders' leadership has been more often figurehead than actual, as the Emperor is assumed by many to command all 'important' decisions for them. The Blossom mostly continue to look to the Elders for aid, however, and in truth the Emperor seems to care very little for the general goings-on of the people as long as his armies are still in order and the Izou still own the land. However, there has been some recent bleed of hostility towards ninja. It's one of the many reasons that the Elders and ninja decided that the Uprising's time had come - if left too much longer, the ninja might have lost the support of the people. Their goal now is to take the Land back from the Izou, using the Ninja Crusade as a distraction. Each clan has their own agenda, of course, but all agree: the Izou must be removed, once and for all, even if it means total war.

Next time: Clans of Seed and Blossom

Yes We Are All Weirdos

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Ninja Crusade: Land of Seed and Blossom - Yes We Are All Weirdos

One note - unlike the Izou, there aren't really any minor clans in the Land of Seed and Blossom. When your main clans are all divinely inspired and minor clans have no Immortal backing, well, that happens. The few that have sprung up either left the Land or got absorbed into another clan.

The Bamboo Alchemists are also known as the Ika Clan, the Alchemists and the Shamans. They practice Frog and Wildcat styles, and share the Way of Caring Hands with the Bamboo Herbalists. They get +1 Athletics, +1 Crafts, +1 Holistics and +1 Marksman, along with +1 Yin ki. The Ika were the second clan of Seed and Blossom, and not long after the first, the Crystal Bearers. They came from a time of war and disease, and they were the healers the people needed. They became shamans, neutral in all conflict, perfecting their healing potions. It lasted a long time, until the clan split. When the Izou came, one group of Ika decided to join them in an effort to expand their expertise and get new ingredients. The other half of the Ika chose to remain behind, having all the Untamed Wilds to explore and needing no stolen lands.

The two camps formed a rift, and the group that would become the Bamboo Herbalists left for the Izou. The remaining Ika held strong to their traditions, but also became increasingly hostile and xenophobic. Rather than thrillseekers, they took the name Bamboo Alchemists and became recluses. Now, the Alchemists have been called from hiding to aid the rest of the Blossom ninja in taking back their land. Like the Bamboo Herbalists, they have practiced body modification to prolong their lives, but they use a much different recipe. They call on the power within their Birthstones, which gives them greater insight into Immortalism. Their healing expertise is also extremely valuable if the Uprising is to succeed.

The Bamboo Alchemists primarily live in the southeastern Hougo Range of mountains, but also have small hideouts across the Land. They use any jutsu they can to protect their territories - quicksand, explosive traps, illusions, even magnetic shifts. The people in their lands are usually healthier than those of other areas because the ninja come in the night, healing them by stealth. They are still the shamans of the people, after all. In times of extreme need or unique disease, they can also be summoned by burying a mixture of bodily fluids from the diseased patient. Beyond that, they spend most of their time hiding as hermits, trying to become immortal. They meditate and drink mystic potions to strengthen their bodies, and they study combat, but primarily for self-defense. Young Alchemists begin by taking in a mixture of rare herbs to prepare them for the poisons they must take later, to increase lifespan. To become a full ninja, they must spend an entire week in meditation, despite the pains of hunger, thirst and poison. The Bamboo Herbalists still think of their cousins as potential allies, but the Bamboo Alchemists see them as deserters and traitors to the Land, and hate them beyond measure. Now, the two clans fight when they meet, mostly because the Alchemists desperately want to kill their traitorous cousins.

The Ika are of mixed views about their decision to aid the Uprising. They very much understand the desire to push out the soldiers of the Izou, whom they believe taint the land itself with their presence. However, they don't especially like working with other clans - particularly Yakyubyo's Pox, whom they see as their diametric opposite. They have not gotten along in centuries, after all. So for now, they reluctantly help, but desperately hope for the arrival of the next Immortal, who can tell them if that is actually correct or not.

The Gift of the Ika infuses their bodies with Yin, extending their lifespan and making them very flexible. They age only one year for every two years that pass due to a constant ingestion of special potions. They also get +1 Initiative, +1 Athletics for flexibility and do not need to breathe. Their Trigger is their xenophobia. The Alchemists have isolated themselves away, and they hate and fear the unknown. The party gains 1 Karma when their aversion to people and things not of the Land of Seed and Blossom becomes a major problem.

Their potential Contacts are: Oki Seishiro (Survival), a man who has whatever herb or ingredient you need...but never for free. Oye Utemaru (Discipline), a monk who stands on one leg in the ruins of his village, refusing to move until the Izou leave. No Nanami (Intimidation), a legal expert who knows how to use the Izou's own laws against them. Ika Meiji (Persuade), an Alchemist often sent into the Izou lands to trade with Herbalists, perhaps out of Elder practicality. Kanda Ruka (Travel), a village fur dealer who often spends her time on the road. Ando Io (Crafts), a warrior famous for the paintings she does in the blood of defeated Izou soldiers. Their Bonds:

The Crystal Bearers are also called the Shouka Clan, the Keepers and the Jewelers. They practice Rhino and Snake styles, along with their unique Way of Shards jutsu. They get +1 Crafts, +1 Intuition, +1 Might and +1 Perception, and their choice of +1 Yin or Yang. They are the clan that most embodies the Land of Seed and Blossom, the first ninja of the Land and the priests who ran the now-ruined Seiseki Temples. Once, every parent sought them out for the Birthstone Imbuing ceremony, which ties the child to the Land and all its people. They were the nation's most beloved ninja. When the Izou came, they were its first defenders, using their mastery of crystal to fight back. Ultimately, they failed, losing many vcillages and eventually even the Seiseki Temples. Now, the Bearers are spread thing. They still do their work, but are hunted by the Izou, who know that if the clan were to reassemble, they could easily provoke the nation into uprising.

Many citizens believe the Crystal Bearers lead the Blossom Uprising. They are incorrect. The Shouka were scattered into many small, disunited collectives, unable to gather under any banner until the Elders supported them. The Elders, until recently, believed that the Crystal Bearers gathering in number would lead to the Izou crushing everyone. Their only refuge is the ruins of the old Seiseki Temples, and those are almost always under Izou watch. Now, the Crystal Bearers serve as advisors to Yakyubyo's Pox, who are the true leaders of the Uprising.

Life as a Crystal Bearer is life in hiding. Even though their home province is one of the largest, they mostly travel in small groups or live in tiny, hidden villages. Their domain is known for crystal trees and crystal-encased fruits, used as markers to warn trespassers to turn back. Most of these areas are still around the Seiseki Ruins, but the Izou have been instructed to kill any Shouka ninja on sight. Tradition holds that the Shouka can be summoned with a doll made of crystal intertwined with the hair of a child, hung from your door. Most commonly, this is done for the Birthstone ceremony, but also to get their advice or have them perform a marriage. In secret, the Jewelers practice the deadly art of crystal control, which is another reason the Izou hunt them. They are finally growing again as a clan, however, as true patriots flock to the banner of the nation's most beloved ninja.

The Uprising represents a new chance for the Crystal Bearers. Right now, they merely advise, but they hope that by the end, they will lead. To do that, they must regain their former power and knock the Pox from their role as leaders. They hope to be the heroes of the Uprising, looking for chances to strike great blows against the Izou. They know that afterwards, another Catastrophe will surely come, as they always do - probably an all-out war between ninja, because the Pox will likely not back down without a fight. They see themselves as having no choice but to prepare for that day and hope it will not come as badly as they fear.

The Gift of the Shouka lies in their strong ties to the elements and the power of the Birthstones. They get one Basic Elemental jutsu tied to their Birthstone for free. (Diamond for Earth, Onyx for Metal, Emerald for Wood, Opal for Water, Ruby for Fire.) Their status also allows them to reduce all penalties from Embarrassed by 1. Their Trigger is that they are scatteed and fragmented. They are individually revered, but many believe them to be doomed to split into lesser clans or Ronin. The party gains 1 Karma when people ignore their sage advice due to this stigma.

Their potential Contacts are: Oishi Toshie (Empathy), a beloved and revered midwife of the clan. Mukai Fuuko (Crafts), a gemcutter who specializes in producing ritual gems for the clan. Shouka Yasuo (Perception), a clan member who is fascinated by looking into the souls of those he meets. Arata Ano (Might), a barren woman who offered herself to the warriors of Uprising as a concubine and was instead made a warrior who has now proven her great skill. Murai Michinaga (Holistics), a master of healing potions who works to ensure the warriors survive the front. Ozaki Shumei (Speed), an advisor who is great at making sure his plans are chosen by always being the first to explain his plan. Their Bonds:

The Grim Creepers are also known as the Warawara Clan, the Creepers and the Bugs. They practice Mantis and Spider styles, and their jutsu is the Way of the Hive Body. They get +1 Fighting, +1 Intimidation, +1 Stealth and +1 Survival, and +1 Yang Ki. They are the youngest of the Blossom ninja clans, born only two centuries ago when the insects known as suu invaded the Land. They used their unique jutsu, taught by the Immortal Han Xiang, to lure the suu and capture them, destroying most but saving a small number of their own use. They spent years cultivating the bugs, hiding them in their own bodies.

The suu are filled with ki and allowed to harmlessly live within the ninja, feeding off blood with no ill effect. This does deform them and make them move in disgusting, insectile ways, however, which can easily give them away and has turned several Blossom communities against them. You might wonder why a clan would pick such a dangerous route to power. The answer is easy: the Warawara are rebels and insurgents, and have been since their formation. They bred the suu within themselves as weapons against the Izou. They serve the Uprising now primarily as spies and assassins, with the aid of their tiny insect friends.

The Creepers mostly live, these days, in the forests around cities, usually in underground villages in secret tunnels. Their domain is usually only notable for a lack of non-suu insects, as the suu and Warawara are both quite territorial and eat any bugs that drop in. The Grim Creepers have never been treated as demigods, unlike the other clans. They were simply made to free the Land from the Izou. However, people are known to leave bugs along in their territory - it's never clear if an insect is random or part of a ninja colony. They are born to rebellion, and most of them are born to the clan as well. These initiates are implanted with a queen suu at birth, which kills about every third child. The young ninja then learn much about insects and particularly the suu as they breed, feed and train the bugs. When they are properly skilled in martial arts and properly hateful of the Izou, the rest of the colony is added to their prepared bodies.

The Warawara have spent two centuries preparing for this very moment. They were never able to get the other clans to support the idea of rebellion, largely because of how new and young they were as a clan. Not until the Elders called for it, anyway. Now, they willingly and enthusiastically serve the Uprising. When it is over, they will look to expand, so that one day they can be as beloved by the people as the other Blossom clans.

The Gift of the Warawara is the colony of thousands of tiny suu in their body. They reduce all Poisoned and Diseased conditions by 1, as the bugs protect them, and they get +4 Movement from their lighter, buggy odies. They may also release bugs from any orifice and can open up any point on their body at will to release said bugs, to use their bug-related jutsu. Their Trigger is that even in the Land of Seed and Blossom, they are notably creepy as fuck. They have raspy voices due to bugs in their throats, they have insects crawling all over them, they're often hunched or deformed. The party gains 1 Karma when their outward appearance causes problems.

Their potential Contacts: Iseri Noriyuki (Fortitude), formerly a respected Hunter who is now deeply addicted to the drugs he uses to keep himself going. Kawahara En (Intimidation), an Izou Executioner that has taken a liking to the Creepers, though he'll still fight other Blossom ninja. Hokama Chiho (Perception), a lookout for the Uprising who speaks in a dialect that may or may not derive from the Land of Exalted Flame. Handa Shihi (Travel), a wilderness guide whom the suu will not attack. Warawara Kijuro (Knowledge), a bug expert that studies the suu for new subspecies in the hopes of learning new jutsu. Seto Harumi (Fighting), a Hunter who fights primarily to entertain others and has had relatively few real fights. Their Bonds:

The Phantom Voices are also known as the Tomurai Clan, the Guides and the Phantoms. They practice Crane and Dragon styles, and their jutsu is the Way of Denied Repose. They get +1 Discipline, +1 Empathy, +1 Knowledge and +1 Speed, along with +1 Yin. The Phantom Voices are the clan of the Land of Seed and Blossom most drawn to death, and they know it is just a part of life. They are from the southern lands, drawn from tribes that were the first to believe in an afterlife and to learn the customs of funeral. Now, the fear of going to a hell or becoming a walking corpse instead of going to heaven is normal, but it began with the Phantoms, who lead the people to a better spiritual place. They keep the traditions of corpses and funerals now, developing a limited ability to communicate with the dead. Their numbers grew to the point that, before the Izou came, one or two lived in every village.

When the Izou attacked, they brought with them the idea of corpse-handlers and Untouchables. The Phantoms were either ignores or dirven away, called on now only by those still faithful to the old ways. During the Uprising, however, they have returned to their old communities. They want to help rid the land of the occupation, and they have begun turning their jutsu from tools of communication and purity into weapons in order to do so.

The Phantom Voices don't really subscribe to the idea of territory. They have their own hidden villages, sure, but have little need to control land. Some believe it is still their place to only really interact with others during times of mourning, while others are enraged about the discarding of Blossom tradition under the Izou. Visitors to their domains may find illusory graveyards used as camouflage. Their training method is very different from other ninja, using weeks at a time of meditation and eating dead flesh in order to attune themselves to the dead. Their rituals allow them to mix their minds with spirits, until they can hear the whispers of ghosts on the wind. Once they are full ninja, they also work to maintain large libraries of Blossom history, law and geography. They can be called on for a funeral by leaving a decorative bowl containing the deceased's name on your doorstep. Their funerals for the sinful usually involve grinding the corpse to dust and spreading it over consecrated land, while purer spirits can be buried with proper feng shui to let them rise to heaven. The Phantom Voices and Living Chronicle are frequent rivals, as the rather imperialist Chronicle tend to feel entitled to ancient scriptures that the Tomurai keep sacred. Both sides have killed over this before.

The Tomurai have attempted to be the voice of reason for the Uprising. It hasn't really worked. They believe that the Izou ninja are nto the enemy, and that a truce can be reached with the Lotus Coalition. They hear the screams of the dead and the ancestors that ask for peace. But in the meantime, they just keep track of events and keep themselves ready to aid their fellow ninja on the path to heaven, serving as best they can.

The Gift of the Tomurai is their defense of the secrets and traditions of the Land. They get +1 Travel when journeying in the Land of Seed and Blossom and +1 Knowledge for Blossom history. They also reduce the penalties of Confused by 1, due to their security in their knowledge. Their Trigger is that they are taught from youth that to speak too loudly is wrong, as it ignores the voices of the dead. Because of this, they rarely speak, and when they do, it is barely above a whisper. The party gains 1 Karma when their silence is perceived as overly contemplative or judgmental and makes others uneasy.

Their potential Contacts: Morioka Asako (Crafts), a friendly wagon-maker who smiles a lot at people she meets and carries a big hammer. Nakatomi Reizo (Discipline), an Adventurer that loves to lead the way into new lands. Sugita Yoichi (Empathy), an Advisor who is known for his ability to read just about anyone. Tomurai Katsuhito (Perform), a ninja renowned for using funny faces in place of speech. Kano Michi (Marksman), a farmer who is renowned for killing any predators before they can even threaten her herd. Kuroda Sachi (Intuition), a gambler whose rivals often end up dead. Their Bonds:

Next time: The Sisterhood of Blood, the Splendid Chameleons and Yakubyo's Pox. Honestly, the Creepers are probably not the creepiest of these clans.

Maybe Disease Murder Ninjas Weren't The Best Idea

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Ninja Crusade: Land of Seed and Blossom - Maybe Disease Murder Ninjas Weren't The Best Idea

The Sisterhood of Blood are also known as the Ketsueki Clan, the Sisters and the Bleeders. They practice Eagle and Horse styles, and their unique jutsu is the Way of Vital Currents. They get +1 Empathy, +1 Fortitude, +1 Persuade and +1 Travel, as well as +1 Yang. Sickness, birth defects and deformations have been a constant for the Blossom people - and many others in the world. However, centuries ago, there was one that was far worse, resulting in thousands of stillbirths. Children that were born developed severe mental disorders and were often born without limbs. That is when the Fifth Immortal came, forming the Ketsueki Clan out of women with the purest of hearts. By the use of special alchemy and ki manipulation, they mastered controlling their own blood, including the power to flush out the impurities that could affect childbirth.

The Sisters found that the Blossom, whether from prolonged exposure to the Untamed Wilds or due to some strange attack by Yakubyo's Pox, had acquired a blood disease, particularly those in the eastern parts of the Land. They traveled the land as medicine women, curing this disease with their own blood. Thus the Sisterhood of Blood were born, accepting other women into training to protect the Land and its fertility. Some people still carry this blood sickness, the Fa Disease, and so the clan remains. This truth, however, was learned only after the Izou occupation, when the Sisters began to get pushed out of some villages. It was found that in the places they could not go, fertility problems became more prevalent. The Uprising, they know, is not just for freedom for those living, but for those yet unborn, to be able to be born healthy. Thus, they are the most altruistic of the Blossom clans.

Members of the Sisterhood tend to look and act entirely like normal people. They find that being close to the people helps them aid the land, and as well as working with new mothers to cleanse their children of bloodborne disease, they also give advice on how to live prosperously. They work with young lovers to ensure their relationships are strong, advise families on how to stay together, tell everyone how to prosper under Izou oppression. Their land tends to be dangerous - they are altruists, but fiercely portective ones. They use traps that can drain the blood from intruders, marked only by the presence of bloodless animal corpses. They can be summoned to aid you by splashing a mixture of blood and milk on your door. They train a lot in how to control their own blood flow. After mastering this, they begin to understand the blood around them, including the blood of animals, the sap of trees and the rivers of the Land itself. They consider themselves the guardians of all these things, and despite their terrifying power, they strive to maintain peace. By tradition, all members of the Sisterhood are women.

The Sisterhood of Blood tend to be at the back of the Uprising, both physically and metaphoriclaly. They tend to prefer ranged combat...but more than that, they dislike the brutality that is often wielded against the Izou. They have tried to get the Elders to listen to their views on this, but it has not worked in the slightest. They back the Elders and their decision, being entirely loyal to the Blossom, but they have also begun to take expeditions into Izou, to find Izou ninja that can help them end the war peacefully.

The Gift of the Ketsueki is total control over their own blood. They reduce all penalties from Bleeding by 1, and are even able to convert their own blood into ki. It is painful, but whenever they take 4 or more physical damage at once, they instantly gain 2 ki (with type of their choice). Their Trigger is their extreme reliance on peaceful methods. Other clans often see them as all talk, refusing to ever get their hands dirty. The party gains 1 Karma when they choose pacifism when action is required.

Their potential Contacts: Ketsueki Take (Holistics), the best of the clan when it comes to the health of children or pregnant women. Takata Kyuwa (Intimidation), a young Chief leading a young village, always looking for an Advisor he can really trust. Shiraki Koko (Crafts), a woman who restores war-damaged works of art. Koike Haruka (Knowledge), a woman that travels the land keeping record of health so the Elders have documentation. Masaki Motoyasu (Might), a firefighter renowned for his ability to carry more water than anyone. Oki Benjiro (Fighting), a strong man who protects travelers. Their Bonds:

The Splend Chameleons are also known as the Idou Clan, the Chameleons and the Shifters. They practice Bear and Sloth styles, and their unique jutsu is the Way of Molded Bones. They get +1 Deception, +1 Fortitude, +1 Intimidation and +1 Perform, as well as +1 Yang. The Blossom have always loved art and expression, once renowned for their sculpture above all else...until a new art was created. A number of alchemists followed the ways of the Sixth Immortal, experimenting with ki on their own skin and bones. They ingested special minerals and sap, to make them flexible, and inhaled the smoke of sacred woods, finishing it off with a concoction of gold and jade that gave them total control over their entire bodies. These, the Chameleons, then began to perform across the nation with their mastery of contortionism. This became the art of the Blossom, as viewed by other lands - freaks, body-changers. However, to the Blossom and the Chameleons specifically, this is art, not abomination.

When the Izou came, the Chameleons made statues that portrayed defiance against them. The Izou tried to get rid of them, branding their work as eyesores and the Chameleons as criminals. They were forced into hiding, andm uch beauty was forever lost. Now, with the Uprising, the clan has returned to its old ways. They tend to be somewhat less aggressive than other clans, usually focusing on pranks or sneak attacks. They see themselves as artists first, warriors a distant second, after all - but they'll fight nonetheless.

Splendid Chameleon villages are always beautiful and mysterious. They shape the forest itself into living sculptures, along with anything they create. The Idou are also noted for strange hairstyles, often deliberately misshapen or asymmetric, as well as commonly having piercings and limbs that are longer than normal. They are also known for, quote, "celebratory orgies where the ninja switch genders constantly throughout." So that's a thing. They can be summoned by hanging bushels of red berries over your door, and mostly you call them in celebration times, to make the party better. Initiates are taught for years how to appreciate art, and how to manipulate their bodies and environments only after that. Most are born into their clan and begin practicing body modification around the age of three. Doing it later in life takes a week-long, extremely painful ritual involving the ingestion of terrible poisons, which many die from.

The Splendid Chameleons use their abilities as best they can to infiltrate the Izou, hiding as soldiers or officials and using their position to further the Uprising. They have run into both the Virtuous Body Gardeners and the Blazing Dancers, who tend to claim to have superior art. These meetings tend to turn into huge parties, but the Chameleons take a special pleasure in knocking their Izou counterparts down and showing them up, as well.

The Gift of the Idou is their ability to control their own bodies and the art they make. They get their choice of +1 to all Crafts checks or +1 to Perform, chosen at chargen, and lower the penalties from Broken and Injured by 1. Their Trigger is that, in comparison to other ninja, they are extremely loud and boisterous. The party gains 1 Karma when they just can't help but be the center of attention and it causes problems.

Their potential Contacts: Omori Yugoro (Deception), a Blossom spy who has even removed his Birthstone to better infiltrate the Izou. Fukuda Ton (Crafts), a talented sake brewer. Idou Sen (Persuade), a pickup artist who excels in using her skills to pick up both men and women. Nakao Rii (Perform), a beautiful storyteller whose stories are very, very good. Kawamoto Gekko (Marksman), an Izou soldier who has Uprising sympathies and might be able to be turned. Eto Romi (Athletics), a woman who is one of the fastest runners in the Land. Their Bonds:

Yakubyo's Pox are also known as the Kouhei Clan, the Pox and the Sick Men. They practice Spider and Tiger styles and their jutsu is the Way of Unending Blight. They get +1 Athletics, +1 Fighting, +1 Holistics and +1 Survival, as well as +1 Yin. They come from a time when the people had grown too plentiful, too lazy and self-obsessed. They lacked the food to sustain their numbers. Yakubyo was the male Elder at the time, and he was told by the Third Immortal to gather warriors. Yakubyo was sick and cancerous, but he learned to use this to his advantage, crafting jutsu that gave power over disease.

The clan was made of those who had not fallen to exces, and they trained for decades to make the people realize their shame. They unlocked their ki, bringing death and disease to the people, summonign swarms of locusts and horrible plagues. This was Yakubyo's Pox, the ninja who called the people back from becoming like the Izou are. Now, they continue to lurk in the dark, ready to cull the herd if they must. In the current complacent climate, they are the leaders of the Uprising, fully backing the plan to rid the land of the Izou once and for all.

The Kouhei make their home in hidden villages in the boggier parts of the Land, where every step is dangerous due to all the poisonous plants and diseased insects. Locals tend to develop immunities to the many sicknesses from birth. To call upon the Pox, one drinks rat's blood and then prayers into a campfire, to be carried to the clan by pestilent winds. As for what they do when not out killing - well, they train. All the time. They don't grow food, as their wards supply it in tribute. All of their time is spent preparing for battle or developing new diseases to use as weapons. Usually, they test these on prisoners of war, but will kidnap people if they have no better options. Some even experiment on themselves. By tradition, all of Yakubyo's Pox are men. Women who have tried to join have always died a slow, disease-ridden death, no matter how they prepared.

Yakubyo's Pox are very straightforward, and have a very simple set of goals. Kill Izou soldiers, Izou ninja and anyone that gets in the way. The Crusade's just an excuse for refugees to come to their lands - and those refugees should be killed, too. Their main focus is on the Uprising, and they lead it, though they obey the Elders in all things, obviously. They are the front line, and proud of it.

The Gift of the Kouhei is hteir constant battle-readiness. To join the clan, one must defeat one hundred warriors and kill one hundred beasts. They get +1 Health, are immune to the Diseased condition entirely, and get to choose a weapon Quality at chargen, gaining +1 when using a weapon with that Quality. Their Trigger is that, well, they're...trigger-happy. They love fighting and they hate having to wait. They pace a lot, even sweat, when they have nothing to do. The party gains 1 Karma when they give in to this urge at the worst of times.

Their potential Contacts: Kouhei Toyokuni (Stealth), a master hunter of the clan who can bring down just about anything - and knows it. Nagako Sadako (Perception), an expert alchemist who can recall all the ingredients of any potion she tastes. Namiki Kanzaburo (Crafts), a tatoo artist whose attention to detail and care in laying down Caste markings are both famous. Kurogane Kuniko (Survival), a woman who raises animals and uses them as therapy pets for shellshocked ninja. Omura Izo (Holistics), a master of disease and medicine who alerts the Pox when he believes people are dying of illness. Shouka Yuma (Intuition), a major Crystal Bearer in charge of naming all local children. Their Bonds:

Next time: Wood Geography

Lands of Seed and Blossom

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Ninja Crusade: Land of Seed and Blossom - Lands of Seed and Blossom

The seven provinces of Seed and Blossom are kind of a revolving door of Izou rulership. Generals and garrisons are swapped out quickly - sometimes monthly. The clans, meanwhile, spread themselves out to focus on strategic points in taking back their land, using their knowledge of the area as a weapon. The first province is Hiroki Province, or Dust Province. It was the first to be attacked by the Izou, and the place where the First Immortal came. It was ruled over, in theory, by the Crystal Bearers - and that is why it was attacked first, as they were the leaders of the nation. The area is warm, wet and humid, and much of its natural resources have been entirely stripped from the land. Several species are either wiped out or have left the area, and the people of the province are the poorest in the entire Land. Constant war has ravaged the land, but it can still be managed with hard work.

However, the locals are also the most loyal to the old ways of the Blossom and to the Uprising. Even in the smallest village there are hidden shrines to the Immortals, despite the heavy Izou presence. They villagers act as the Crystal Bearers have advised them to - they are smiling, accomodating, friendly...right up until the moment they can best help the ninja. The ninja show themselves when needed, but prefer to remain hidden from the invaders whenever possible. The old rite to call them still works, but these days it's mostly easier to just talk to the Shouka representative in your village, since the clan has put a contact into just about every community in the province. While they are subtle, they are the clan with the strongest ties to their people, and they work hard to protect them out of their intense need to fulfill the duties given by the Immortals.

Trespassers will be warned of danger by crystalline cocoons around plants or corpses. While the Bearers are not as violent as some, their lack of numbers means they need to guard themselves well, and it's usually safer to avoid the wild places where they lay their traps and just summon them by other methods. They are neighbored on the east by the Splendid Chameleons, who make no real encroachments, and on the south by the Sisterhood of Blood. The Sisterhood and the Bearers often argue over ideals, but because both are clans that favor negotiation, they don't usually come into violent conflict.

One of the most important landmarks in the area is the Seiseki Ruins, where Lu Dongbin first emerged. (It is said that, when a citizen has been deemed worthy by the Shouka, they can be taken to the very place Lu Dongbin first stood, and will see a path before them that leads three miles. Walking it is said to enrich the soul deeply.) Once, the ruins were home to a massive city, which people across the Land made pilgrimages to for the Birthstone rituals. However, the Izou took it as an obvious target, and thanks to the Izou cannon and ninja, it fell. Now, it is a small town surrounded by rubble and ruin. Now, it is still a place of pilgrimage, but for journeys of mourning and loss.

One of the few towns in the province to remain prosperous is Shojo no Me, the Virgin's Eye, which lies between Shitashii Lake and the Shin'yuu River. Local history claims the town was born of those rejected by other areas, but that a beautiful virgin came to town - perhaps an avatar of the Fifth Immortal - who charmed all the local men but who would take no stolen goods as gifts. This turned the town around, pushing out the criminals and bringing in much tourism. However, the women of the town were very jealous of her, and she was eventually murdered by her handmaiden, with her eyes torn from her head and thrown into a well. The end, no moral! The town is doing well, however. It is believed the water supply is enchanted by the woman's energy, and a single sip is said to reduce the signs of age by several years. (Not that this is attractive to all Blossoms, given their respect for age.)

The Jishin Fort is the largest garrison in the province - and, indeed, the entire nation. It is a tower of iron and steal in the midst of a now-barren landscape, a massive spiral-shaped symbol of oppression. Vast resources have been used to make the fort, which is now both a noble embassy and a training center for newly arrived soldiers. The cultural education offered is only partially accurate, but it's better than nothing. The fort is surrounded by oil refineries, weapons plants and factories, now largely self-sustaining. Worst of all, for the Blossom people, is the Birthstone removal service, which is offered to any Blossom citizen that wants it. This is sacrilege to the Shouka - removal of the Birthstone is a punishment for criminals, and then only the worst, after all. However, the fort has withstood several attacks and infiltrations by the Crystal Bearers that want to destroy it, and at this point, its destruction is fairly low on the Uprising priority list until a new method is found.

Kokuso Chitai Province, aka the Breadbasket Province, is full of many rivers and inhabited by the Sisterhood of Blood, who keep the land clean and fertile. Its small jungles and rainforests are separated by large areas of grassland, and most of the locals practice hunting, fhsing or farming, with most trade done in barter rather than Izou coin. The villages are mostly along the rivers or the coastline. The Sisterhood encourage people to avoid the border they share with Yakubyo's Pox, as they dislike the disease-causing clan. They respect them, but avoid them if possible...which isn't always doable, as they must sometimes serve as intermediaries between the Bearers and the Pox. Both sides quietly resent them for this, but the Sisterhood will do whatever they can to prevent war between those two clans, even if they find the Pox rash and shortsighted. The Blossom people have always seen the Sisterhood as bringers of good tidings, and the discovery that the Fa Disease is not totally eradicated has only cemented their belief that the Sisters are deeply needed. The Sisters work to help guide the lives of their people and give good advice. In their lands, men are not looked down on, but women are distinctly encouraged towards independence and power.

The biggest city of the area is Xianguqui, where the Fifth Immortal first arrived. It is home to 20,000 people and is mainly a giant marketplace for the local farmers and fishermen. Yo ucan get almost anything you want there, either in the bustling farmer's market or the equally bustling (and gender-neutral) red light district. There is also an Adventurers Guild - a meeting place for the Adventurer Caste to trade information and rumors, as well as stay in one of several inns or taverns. Outside the market is the home of the Council of Three, who lead the Sisterhood of Blood and have great power in the province. The Ketsueki have strings just about everywhere, and they work hard to keep the city beautiful and self-sufficient. As a result, few are poor there. The area is also used as a meeting ground between the Crystal Bearers and Sisterhood of Blood, to maintain good relations as much as possible, as well as to trade medicines and information. It is rumored that they are working together to make their own version of the Uprising more effective, but so far no one has proof of this.

Mori Hogosha, on the other hand, is a thousand-strong village in the rainforest. It's still lightly traveled, as the road becomes a swamp during the rainy season. However, the Sisterhood and their mastery of water prevents much damage and ensures the floods are mostly beneficial. During the rainy season, the village mostly practices hunting and gathering in the jungle, where many animals live. Once the Two Dragons Bridge opens once more, however, there's a huge celebration and it becomes a great place to pick up weapons and armor. The area sits near Izou territory - specifically the Oak Leaf Province, once known as Treeside, and the loss is still felt there.

The coast is home to Iriai, or Sunset, a fishing town noted for..well, beautiful sunsets and extremely good art, especially art done by some Sisters in the blood of animals. It's a tourist town, insofar as anywhere in the Land of Seed and Blossom is, and in this area, the Uprising is mostly an afterthought. The place is basically an artist's commune, ruled over by Koukon, the greatest artist of the Sisters. At this point, she is a slave to her inspiration. When she isn't painting, she is watching out for other artists and giving them advice. She still attends to the rituals of the clan, but is not much for fighting any more. Her work is especially focused on life and the depiction of women as both strong and sexual beings. The area is also a port for fishing and minor trade, but while the Lost Island is close, the Sisters leave that to the Pox.

The Lost Island has been fought over since time immemorial by the Blossoms and the Land of Five Blades. No one is certain what's actually on the island, due its powerful magical barriers, and neither country has actually landed on the beaches. The magic and the rock formations have destroyed all ships sent there so far. The Blossom, however, believe the island is the home of the Immortals. They seek the place to gain the guidance of the Immortals, in the hopes that this will make the Uprising stronger.

Hanei Province is the home of Yakubyo's Pox, and from there, they manage their three great goals: control the Blossom population, find a way to get to Lost Island, and kill the Izou. Unsurprisingly, the place is a very violent area. They neighbor the Sisterhood of Blood, whom they respect deeply but could not be more different from. Men in the Pox lands are required by Izou mandate to join the Citizens Militia for five years when they turn 18, as the Izou believe the local 'savages' should police themselves. Refusal or failure to pass physical training is usually lethal. The Izou didn't keep the Pox from taking over, however - and that was a mistake. They just gave distinguished members of the Militia land and pensions. The Pox are happy to subvert the Militia and use them to help kill more Izou when they can get away with it. After all, the Pox don't just want the Izou gone - they want genocide.

Women in Hanei are taught to be homemakers first - but to do so, they are expected to master several martial arts techniques, so they can defend their homes. The Pox do not look down on their women - they just don't let them become ninja. (As a result, women in Pox lands are known to leave for Sisterhood rule. This is accepted as normal.) Most of the population is rural, living in villages run by the Citizen's Militia. There are very few cities in the territory, and there's a lot of hostile jungles between settlements. Even the best roads are stalked by predators, and the Pox are rumored to use the wild lands to experiment on diseases and their uses against humans. They also strictly maintain control over how many children you can have. Those who go over two children find the 'extras' murdered or kidnapped.

The only city of the province is Yuuki, which is also the capital of the Land asa a whole and the former home of the Elders. Right now, it's mainly a walled compound full of Advisors protecting the Capital Tower. This area is full of sickly, tainted chi, which is favored by the Pox ninja, after all. The area is also home to Kai Shik Theater and Tavern, run by the titular Kai Shik, a Splendid Chameleon who runs an acting troupe to entertain the locals. He spies on the Izou soldiers in the area, who quite like the theater, and tries to avoid direct conflicts. The Outer Ring of the city, outside the walls, is a patchwork nightmare of urban sprawl, a defensive buffer to protect the central tower. Danger and chaos reign here - slaving, black markets and crime. The Militia patrol the area, but there's nowhere near enough of them. The neighborhoods mostly police themselves with 'gangs' of justice-enforcers who all have different rules. The area is also home to the Militia training grounds, where the Pox and Militia practice combat and especially amphibious assault training. The training is intense and sometimes lethal.

Shinde Shizukana Province is claimed by the Phantom Voices, who maintain the cemetaries and graveyards. They used to spread across the whole land, but they've mostly retreated to their strongholds to hide from the Izou. The area is excellent farmland, though it is occasionally raided by Izou soldiers. However, there aren't that many villages, and the ninja ones are especially well-hidden, and usually resemble graveyards with houses interspersed. The locals are at ease with this, but even Blossoms of other provinces tend to be initially wary. The burials are of the Pure Ones, people who don't need full ritual purification. The rituals are long, arduous and involve more work the worse a person was. Criminals usually get their corpses skinned and fed to wolves, then their bones ground to dust and spread over holy land. The less corrupt instead are cremated with peach tree oil and scattered. The bodies of the Pure Ones, however, are kept intact and are seen as good luck to be around.

The primary city of the region is Tengoko no Jundo, or Heavenly Purity. It's at the center of the province, near the holy Suikokyu Lake. It's hard to reach except by boat, and even after the Izou invasion, it has been kept well-defended. The city appears to be a massive, sprawling graveyard along the lakeside, with each building surrounded by headstones of the Pure Ones. Some are evne built into the cliff faces that surround the city or on rocks out in the lake. A thin layer of mist usually covers the area even by day, and gets thicker by night. The city is friendly to those allied to the Phantom Voices, but it's hard to get to it at all if you aren't. The roads and boats are carefully watched, and unwanted guests are diverted by ninja magic. The city is where most Phantom Voices train, at the Temple of Passage, and as a result the city is believed to be the most pure location in the entire southern half of the nation. Outsiders rarely get to see it at all.

The lake, Suikokyu, is the largest in the entire Land and is the heart of the Phantom Voice territories. It is believed to purify all those around it, and it is a lake covered in fog and full of good, rich fishing. By night, the fog gets so thick that you can't even cross the lake at all. The waters are unusually calm and smooth, even in bad weather, and the Voices hold it as their holiest natural site, with only Tengoko no Jundo being a holier place at all. As a result, it is often the place where the ashes and dust of the violent dead are strewn.

Midori Province (Green Province, yes) is the home of the Bamboo Alchemists, and most of it isn't actually green. About half is made of the Hougo Range of mountains, though there are forests at the base. The loyal Ika have retreated into the mountains since the Izou takeover and the clan's split. They live as hermits, emerging to heal the sick or help people but otherwise rarely seen. They can sense the sickness of the land wherever they go, however. They have made the Hougos their own, using the steep paths and difficult ascent to protect themselves, as well as trapping the caves and tunnels they hide within. They are pretty much the main occupants of the mountains - the rest of the population mostly lives away from them. Those that do live in the mountains, however, live in bountiful natural safe areas, protected from harm and disease by the Alchemists. These are the only people that know the safe paths through the mountains, but they rarely leave, and tend to be as xenophobic as their ninja masters.

The Midori border has actually expanded, however, now that the Ika are starting to come down to join the Uprising. Their potions and tea leaf divinations have told them it is time to claim more land. The Phantom Voices have been happy to give up some of their territory to the clan, but the Grim Creepers were not. However, even with the Alchemists not at the strength they once held, they were more than enough to cow the young clan into obedience.

Within the mountains is a place known as Chinmoku no Dangai, the Cliffs of Silence, where a rogue Oni was killed by the Fourth Immortal. It is said that the Oni's blood drained all life from the cliff, and there is certainly a hundred-foot area in which the air does not move, ever, and in which no plant can grow. Small animals die within an hour of touching its dead earth, and even the undead avoid it. It is a chi-dead zone. Despite this, the Ika have found a use for the place - it is a good gathering spot if you want to avoid detection, as no sensory jutsu can operate within its bounds. It also makes a good place to practice meditation rituals without the distractions of the world around you. It also makes a decent punishment for trainees that over-rely on their jutsu abilities. The Phantom Voices also sometimes visit it to study its mysteries, for they know that the Fourth Immortal could easily have cleaned it up but chose not to.

The most notable town in the area is Jujihoka, or Crossfire Point. It isn't really notable for size, but it is the center of a bitter war between four different clans. Jujihoka is the only place that the Akasuta flower grows, and that flower can cure any illness, poison or disease. This makes a great tension - everyone wants it. The Bamboo Alchemists desire it for obvious reasons and took the town quickly when the flower was discovered. However, it was in Grim Creeper territory, and they didn't like to give it up. While the two clans have been trying to make nice since, the town is something they still fight over - violently, at times. The Splendid Chameleons, meanwhile, claim they should own the town because of the beauty the flower brings. However, they care more about the townsfolk, who live in constant fear of ninja battles. They are a strong people who do not use the flower for anyone that asks, but without a defender, they will have to submit eventually. Yakubyo's Pox also want to control the flower so that it cannot be used against them and can give them a tool to cure the Fa Disease without need for the Sisterhood of Blood.

The Jikuyuu Monastery is also in the area, home to the Jikuyuu Monks. These are an order of usually peaceful Immortalists that have chosen to remove themselves from the outside world and the social pressure of rising in Caste. They take oaths of celibacy, sobriety and pacifism, but train constantly in self-defense techniques to keep their compound safe. They are rumored to exist on a more spiritual plane, becoming closer to the Immortals and gaining visions from them. The monasteryh as existed since the Second Immortal came, and it has always successfully predicted the coming of the next Immortal. Even the ninja cannot foretell the future like the mountain monks. The monastery has been kept secret from the Izou so far, and its monks are the most devout people in the entire Land. To lose them would be terrifying. The Ika have protected the monastery by illusion, to guard against anyone that does not already know exactly where it is - even other clans, in case they defected.

Toguchi Province, or Doorway Province, is the home of the Warawara Clan, though they've not had much time to carve it out. They claim an area of rocky plains, grassland and forest, most of which none of the other clans wanted in the first place. They have slowly expanded, taking lands that were once Bamboo Alchemist, but have since stabilized and don't want to expand further, except to retake Jujihoka. The see the Izou occupation as a much higher priority than interclan disputes, though. Their forests are rough and dense, left largely wild. There's a number of roads that lead into the Untamed Wilds, of course, and while the Izou patrol constantly, the Creepers monitor them to be sure their hospitality isn't taken advantage of. For their own travel, they use the Dakupasu - underground roads made of old lava tubes, caves and underground rivers. These have been modified enough to move a cart, if it's small, and the ninja can use them to quickly cross the province without the Izou noticing. Of course, there are still bottomless chasms and underground rivers to deal with, so travel without a Creeper guide is ill-advised. (Wilderness travel is cery difficult, due to the Creeper love for pit traps, especially those with dangerous animals or punji sticks.)

The province is, in theory, fertile. However, the suu are extremely territorial insects and eat any other bug that comes into their territory, which drastically reduces the amount of pollination that can happen. Crops should thrive, in theory, but few do except along the Ouka river, where cherry trees grow shockingly well. The forested areas are less affected by this than the grasslands, as the trees can pollinate largely without insects and are allowed to grow wild, as the clan lives mostly underground, in their city-networks. The province itself is populated less than any clan's land but the Pox - there's a few towns and villages, but not many, due to the poor crop growth. They do producve fine cherry wines, however, and excellent minerals from the clan's excavations.

The largest city in Creeper land is Yokoso Kagushi, the Hidden Welcome. It's one of the most audacious projects ever undertaken in Seed annd Blossom, and it'd have utterly failed if the Splendid Chameleons had not come to help in exchange for safe passage and friendship. It's central in the province and connected to several other small towns by the Dakupasu. The entire city is underground, built into a number of branching cavern hubs, with most of its entrances and paths concealed. It's very hard to actually enter the city itself from above ground if you don't know where oyu're going. This is the headwuarters of the Warawara, but they also maintain housing for their civilians and traders, and the caves are actually full of buildings rather than the more normal carved-out homes of other Warawara underground towns. Half of the cavern has access to a freshwater lake that is used to provide water to the city, and which balances the Yin chi of the city itself with a powerful Yang.

Entering the Untamed Wilds requires the approval of the Chameleons of the Creepers. The Chameleons enforce strict but unrwritten rules, and they punish them harshly when broken. The Creepers will happily warn people if they're about to fuck up and cross the Idou, however. They can be scary, but they really only have two requirements to get into the Wilds. They demand tribute, first of all. They often have food shortages, so they use the passage as a way to get food from travelers - enough for the travelers and every ninja they meet, typically in the form of a bag of rice. Money or other items of value are accepted only if the traveler has no food to share. The second requirement is that a traveler must be accompanied by a Grim Creeper guide. They see the Wilds as a sort of homeland, given the suu came from there, and they like to travel it. Being guides gives them a good excuse, and that's why they insist on it. Only one ninja can guide a group of travelers at a time, but they maintain a relay system, to allow each new ninja to demand tribute if they choose and to get some time on the road. Lucky travelers get an experienced guide early and don't have to deal with all the passing between ninja.

Nejireta Tsuri Province is the home of the Splendid Chameleons. They are a joyous clan, lighting up the lives of those they interact iwth, but they are also able to use their strange contortionist talents to fight the Izou.They are ninja, after all, before they are entertainers. The province itself is cared for rather like a garden, with no overgrowth or wild decay. There are many fruit orchards, and the land is healthy and fertile, far more than anywhere else but Sisterhood territory. The local villages specialize in fruit and alcohol trading, and what they produce is exceptionally valuable. However, the rest of the land is not great for farming - it's mostly lumber wood.

The Idou demand respect for the Untamed Wilds, however, and forbid any unauthorized logging. Arrangements must be made in advance to cut down trees, usually in exchange for alliances or gifts of valuable art or weapons. The Chameleon villages are hidden among the trees, using the terrain to hide their strange, sculpture-like buildings well. These are known as the ten-mura, or sky villages, because they are often built into living trees. Most do have traditional housing near the best of the trees, but not all. The Idou also grow special trees around stone and metal, known as the Kuiaratame no Kessaku - the Masterpiece of Repentance. That is because they take a human being that has broken their laws and put them into the tree, usually in an uncomfortable position, before sealing them in with thestone and metal. They can be released only by the total destruction of the prison, which is usually quite dangerous to the prisoner. Those that harm innocents or dishonor the clan massively are generally left in these prisons until they starve to death.

The most beautiful city of the province, even the entire Land, is Hareyakana Karafuto, Radiant Craft. It is in the geographical center of the province, so while it is concealed, it is easy to get to if you know where it is. The woods around it are carefully crafted to be so thick as to be impassable without ninja help. Indeed, the city is built from the forest itself, in the way of Idou architecture. The primary difference is that there are no ground-based structures at all - the entire city is built into the 50-odd ten-mura that currently make up the city. (Even more are being built yearly.) The tallest is 200 feet high, and is the home of the Chameleon clan leadership as well as where young students train. Each of the ten-mura is a work of art, but is also constructed for defense. The walkways that connect them can be either retracted or dropped, while the walkways around the trees themselves are designed to allow for stones to be rolled off onto attackers. The ten-mura are also built so that the frame can survive the tree being burned. However, none of these defenses have ever been needed - no enemy has ever found the city.

The Idou see themselves as the benevolent protectors of the Untamed Wilds, and a trip through Idou lands into them means dealing with their rules. They are generally peaceful about it, as long as the land is respected, however, and collateral damage isn't too blatant. While most of the time permission is sought in Idou villages, any Chameleon ninja may, technically, grant permission to enter as long as an oath to respect the land is performed and the traveler is deemed worthy. Most travelers are also given one or two Chameleon escorts, who will harp on the importance of admiring and caring for the land, then leave after a few days (and secretly tail the group to see how they act while 'alone'). Those that break the oath will likely be attacked.

The greatest construction of the Splend Chameleons is Kiri to Ni Ho To, the Tower of Mist and Fire, which sits on a small island near the coast. It appears to be a giant lighthouse of weathered, stacked stone that should collapse easily - but in the two years it's been standing, the many waves have never harmed it. It just appeared one night. While many Izou and peasants believe the thing was made by magic, the truth is the Chameleons built it out of quarried stone carefully manipulated by jutsu to appear weathered and rough. The Izou have tried to tear it down twice and have investigated its supernatural nature once; all three expeditions failed because the ships sank or the crews vanished mysteriously. Within the tower is a secret passage into a concealed cave system under the island, used by the Chameleons to hide in and put out the lighthouse when the Izou drop by. They are actively trying to maintain the illusion that the thing is a magical ghost lighthouse.

The Untamed Wilds themselves are mostly pristine wilderness, and even when under threat of attack, the Blossom people do not make many incursions into them en masse. They could, if they wanted, but deliberately choose not to, and punish those who try. Passage into the Wilds is a mark of adulthood, and visitors are often there to explore and fight beasts to prove their worth. Some go seeking out medicinal plants or mystical animals, while others hunt for ancestral ruins (which, so far, have not proven to exist at all). The region is extremely diverse, and there are many kinds of plant and animal, including a shocking number of large, deadly and carnivorous plants. Travel in the are is extremely limited, especially without a Creeper or Chameleon guide. So far, all attempts to access the wilderness by sea have either failed or been immediately set upon by the forces of nature and forced to flee. The constant storms of the Arashi Sea don't exactly help, either. Only the Land of Exalted Flame has ever managed to gain enough of a foothold to make a permanent settlement.

That settlement is Honshiken, who made it in an effort to explore the world. Many Blossoms consider the place a desecration or even an act of war, especially as the residents have razed entire sections of jungle for lumber and farmland. Only this total destruction has allowed the place to survive with only limited animal harassment. The local ninja were attacked when they tried to investigate and driven off before a full assessment could be made. The clans agree that the colony is a blight on the perfect savagery of the Wilds. However, while they've made a few raids to test it and see how strong it is, no one has returned from any of these attempts. A fullscale assault is coming, but many fear going in blind.

Next time: Mechanics!

How 2 Ninja

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Ninja Crusade: Land of Seed and Blossom - How 2 Ninja

Mechanically, Blossom ninja remain largely identical to Izou ninja. However, Steps 1 and 2 differ somewhat. Step 1 is mostly a reskin - each of the elements is reskinned as your Birthstone and gives a slightly different set of stat boosts, and they also give a few more selections you can pick for Gift/Trigger for each one. Step 2, however, replaces Profession with Caste. You can select any of the Castes except Gatherer - all full ninja are at least Family Bearer, after all. Note that your actual IC caste can shift during play much more easily than a Profession might, though, and you can take Chief Caste even if you aren't actually a Chief - you might be a next in line for the job, say. We also get a few new afflictions for step 4, like being a carrier for Fa Disease or having no Birthstone.

We also get some new fighting styles! Frog Style focuses on movement, a mix of rushes and distance combat, and low damage whittling.
Wall Launch
Level 1: You can use Athletics as a secondary skill when attacking to get +1 per level to the attack, as long as you have a sturdy surface to jump off.
Level 2: When making such an attack, you also get a full Move action.
Level 3: Select an environment type. When making such an attack in that environment (for example, urban or swamps), you get an additional +2.

Expert Dodger
Level 1: You may spend 1 Dynamic Action to get +1 to all Dodge checks for the Round, up to (Level) times per Round.
Level 2: You get +1 Marksman to Counterattack immediately when you Dodge.
Level 3: Pick a specific kind of weapon, such as swords or unarmed. You get +2 to Dodging attacks from that kind of weapon.

Poison Training
Level 1-3: +1 Holistics per level when dealing with Poisoned conditions or when using Alchemy to make poisons.

Rhino Style: Up close, heavy rushdown and knocking the foe off balance. Not so good at ranged combat.
Destabilizing Strikes
Level 1: With a Boost, you may instantly apply send your foe back (Might+5) feet, forcing them to make an Athletic+Speed check to avoid knockdown.
Level 2: Double the distance.
Level 3: You do +2 damage to prone targets.

Pushing Through the Wind
Level 1: Attackers get -3 to hit you instead of -2 when you Sprint, and you do +2 damage rather than +1 on your followup attack.
Level 2: You can Dodge normally while Sprinting.
Level 3: You get Armor 2 while Sprinting.

Thick Hide
Level 1-3: You reduce the penalties for wearing Armor by (Level*2).

Sloth Style: Slow, calculated combat. Very tactical.
Calculated Movements
Level 1: When acting after Initiative 5, you get +1 per level to attacks.
Level 2: When acting after Initiative 4, you ignore up to 2 levels of Armor.
Level 3: When acting after Initiative 3, you cause Slowed 1 when you hit on top of normal damage.

Slow and Strong
Level 1: You may sacrifice 2 Initiative to get +1 damage for the Round, up to (Level) times per Round.
Level 2: When acting at Initiative 5 or after, your Actions cannot be Interrupted.
Level 3: When acting at Initiative 4 or after, you get +1 damage.

In the Trees
Level 1-3: You get +1 Athletics per level when in the wilds.

Spider Style: Attack with every part of your body. Every part.
Deceptive Movements
Level 1: You get +1 Deception per level for Feints.
Level 2: You may make one free Feint per Round.
Level 3: If you successfully Feint, you get +4 to the followup attack rather than +2.

Spider STriking
Level 1-3: You may equip one extra weapon per level simultaneously, as long as each shares at least one Quality and is a small weapon. You also do +1 damage per additional weapon.

8 Legs Strike At Once
Level 1-3: You may spend 1 Dynamic Action to get +1 to your next attack per opponent, capped at (Level*3). You can do this only once per Round. If facing a Squad, The GM decides how many squaddies are fighting you for this. Against a Legion, you get the maximum bonus automatically.

Next time: New jutsu!

The Terrifying Power of Creepy Ninja Land

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Ninja Crusade: Land of Seed and Blossom - The Terrifying Power of Creepy Ninja Land

The Way of Denied Repose is the Earth-elemental jutsu of the Phantom Voices, focused on...well, necromancy and death manipulation. On a boost during activation, you get +1 Persuade when dealing with the dead. On a Backfire, you get -2 to your next check due to spiritual disfavor.
Basic Jutsu
Death Immunity (Yin+Discipline): The next time this Scene you'd hit Health 0, you instead hit Health 1. You may spend 1 Yin to use this reflexively.
Death State (Yin+Discipline): You enter a trance state, appearing dead. Your blood stops flowing and your heart stops beating, your skin becomes pale. You are fully aware of everything, but can neither move nor react. This lasts for several days or until you choose to end it.
Reanimate Beast (Yang+Survival): You touch a dead animal and animate it as a zombie. No time limit on how long it's been dead. It has the statistics it had in life, but must have appropriate body parts to use some abilities - no feathers means your zombie bird can't fly, no paws means your zombie cat can't scratch. The zombie remains animate for several minutes. A corpse can only ever be animated this way once. On a Boost, it appears alive while animated.
Shallow Grave (Yang+Survival): You make an opening in the earth the size of a person. Once someting is thrown in, it instantly fills back up with dirt.
Voice on the Wind (Yin+Intuition): You can see, speak with and fully understand nearby spirits. On a Boost, you also get +2 to track spirits for the Scene.

Median Jutsu
Death Gaze (Yin+Intimidation): You look into the eyes of a corpse or skull and sense the last moments before the owner's death.
Corpse Disposal (Yin+Crafts): You turn a corpse into dust instantly. This only works on true corpses - a living person, even in Death State, is immune.
Corpse Recreation (Yang+Crafts): You return a corpse to its original state, even if it has been utterly destroyed, turned to ash or dusted with Corpse Disposal.
Reanimate Person (Yang+Empathy): You must have Reanimate Beast and Death Gaze. You create a human zombie from a corpse. If they died within the past six hours, they retain their knowledge and personality from life. Otherwise, they are mindless. If used to fight, they have either the target's stats in life but at -3 to all checks, or have the stats of a mob of Average Citizens. This lasts for several minutes.
The Dead Know Secrets (Yin+Persuade): You must have Voice on the Wind. You ask the local spirits for information on the target, reading their aura and listening in on them. They relay the information to you when the scene ends, giving you +2 to mental attacks on the target for several days.

Advanced Jutsu
Audience with the Ancestors (Yin+Persuade): You must have The Dead Know Secrets. You spend 20 minutes reciting a sacred mantra to summon the ancestors. Once they arrive, you may ask them a number of questions, and they'll answer to their best of their knowledge. They know many things, but are not omniscient.
Hoard Jutsu (Yang+Crafts): You must have Reanimate Person. You use this before using Reanimate Person or Reanimate Beast to animate a number of zombies at once.
Infuse Corpse (Yang+Persuade): You must have Death Gaze. You infuse a corpse with Yang. Any time in the next ten minutes, you may spend an Action to make it explode, doing 4 damage that ignores 2 Armor to everyone in Close Range. If you do not ignite it in that time, the body disintegrates tracelessly.
Reanimate Self (Yang+Discipline): You must have Death Immunity, Death State and Reanimate Person. You place a piece of your soul into your Birthstone. You must this before you are killed or die. When you die or are killed, you remain aware of your surroundings but cannot move, and may instantly revive yourself at any time in the next six hours. Any lost major organs or limbs are restored. You return with the Revived 5 condition, giving -1 to all checks and preventing you from molding Yang ki while you have it. This Condition cannot be removed or lowered by Holistics.
Spirit Shock (Yang+Marksman): You must have The Dead Know Secrets. You release a wave of spirit energy, using the activation as an attack hitting everyone and everything in Near range for 2 damage, which is unblockable.

Way of the Hive Body is the Wood-elemental jutsu of the Grim Creepers, which hollows out their bodies for the suu. On a Boost during activation, you get +2 to the next Hive Body activation. On a Backfire, your bugs eat some of you and you get a cumulative -1 Fortitude penalty.
Basic Jutsu
Bug Bomb (Yang+Discipline): You make one of your suu the size of a fist, then have it fly over to something. You may make an Action to have it explode, doing 2 damage to a 10 foot radius, which ignores Armor. However, it is big and slow, so you may need to make a Stealth check to hide it if you want to use it as a trap. On a Boost, the suu stays small so you don't have to do that.
Empowered by the Hive (Yang+Fortitude): You draw on the power of the suu within, binding them into your body and gaining +2 Strength and +2 Initiative for several rounds or until you choose to release the suu.
Gifted Wings (Yang+Survival): You send the suu into your hands and feet, allowing you to hover a good distance off the ground and move at +5 Movement. While hovering, you get +1 to Dodge but cannot hold weapons because your hands are full of bugs. This lasts for the scene or Battle.
Under the Skin (Yin+Stealth): You plant one of your bugs inside the target with a touch. It lowers the target's Initiative by 1 for several hours and is undetectable.
Words in the Sky (Yin+Crafts): You emit a stream of bugs that you can send to a location nearby, where they form into kanji. You can have them be small and personal, or be large enough to be visible in the sky for several miles.

Median Jutsu
Barrier Devourer (Yin+Survival): You make your suu eat an object in your way. They deal 2 damge per Round to any non-living target, ignoring Armor, until it is destroyed. In combat, this can be used to disarm or destroy armor, but this requires a Marksman+Speed check at -2 and cannot harm enchanted, magical or master-crafted weapons. On a Boost, the suu do 4 damage per Round, devouring twice as fast.
Insect Cloud (Yang+Intimidation): You must have Words in the Sky. You summon several thousand suu and expel them from all orifices into a cloud that covers a decent area. They obscure vision and crawl into the ears, noses and mouths of anyone in range. Everyone gets -2 to all checks except Grapple and jutsu activation, except for you. This lasts for several Rounds. On a Boost, victims must also make a Fortitude check each Round to avoid gaining cumulative Poisoned 1.
Insect Spiral (Yang+Marksma): You fire a torrent of suu that descend on a foe in Near range, doing 2 damage and forcing a Fortitude check to avoid another 2 damage from poison.
Mask of Insects (Yin+Fortitude): Your suu erupt out of your body, revealing a mixture of blood, bone and viscera that crawl with insects. Anyone looking must make a Discipline+Empathy check to against fear or take 1 mental damage and Afraid 1. On a Boost, they take Afraid 3 instead.
Track the Female (Yin+Perception): You must have Under the Skin. You now inject female suu using Under the Skin, allowing the male suu within you to track the pheromones they produce. You may track anyone marked by Under the Skin within several miles, wherever they go.

Advanced Jutsu
Into Your Heart (Yang+Survival): You must have Under the Skin. Your embedded suu may now crawl into the enemy's heart and make them like you. This deals 1 mental damage and causes both Convinced 1 and Confused 1. On a Boost, both conditions are level 2 instead.
Ki-Gobblers (Yin+Intimidation): You must have Barrier Devourer. You send a cloud of suu to attack someone with the activation check. The suu deal 1 physical and 1 mental damage, ignoring up to 2 Armor, and destroy 1 Yin or 1 Yang ki. On a Boost, you gain the ki from the target.
Multiply Attack (Yang+Intimidation): You must have Under the Skin and Insect Cloud. You cause the implanted suu from Under the Skin to multiple a thousandfold inside the target, doing 3 physical damage that cannot be negated in any way, then causes Bruised 1 and Deprived 1 as the bugs burrow out and leave.
Swarm Form (Yang+Fortitude): You must have Gifted Wings. You turn into a swarm of a thousand suu and fly off. You can enter areas humans cannot in this form, obviously, and can evade most attacks outright. You may speak with the sound of a thousand buzzing wings, can move at (Movement*3) and can fly as high as any insect. If even a single suu survives, you cannot be killed, though loss of large portions of the swarm may result in scars or missing limbs. You also get +2 Intimidation for the scene.
10,000 Eyes (Yin+Perception): You must have Words in the Sky. You send hundreds of thousands of suu in all directions for several miles. You may use their hearing and vision as you please for the scene, and they can get into anywhere a bug can get into.

The Way of Molded Bones is the Fire-elemental jutsu of the Splendid Chameleons, which allows them to manipulate their own flesh and bones. On a Boost during activation, you get a cumulative +1 Athletics bonus. On a Backfire, you take either 1 physical damage that can't be negated in any way or Bruised 1.
Basic Jutsu
Bending Body (Yang+Athletics): You can contort yourself impossibly. You get +2 Athletics to release yourself from any bindings and can fit into very small spaces. This lasts for the entire scene. If used in Battle, you get +1 to Parry or Dodge checks for one Round.
Bone Capture (Yin+Fortitude): You spontaneously sprout bones through your skin as a Defense when someone attacks you. These entangle the attacker's weapon or limb, and you are now in a Grapple. The bones retract when the Grapple ends or you choose to release the enemy. On a Boost, you disarm the foe when the bones retract.
Defense of Holes (Yin+Speed): You create holes in your body to allow attacks to pass through. You get +2 to Defense checks against Ranged weapons and +1 against all other physical attacks for several Rounds.
Malleable Flesh (Yang+Perform): Your skin becomes malleable, allowing you to alter your appearance. You get your choice of +1 to Persuade or Intimidate, depending on how you alter your features and appearance. The changes remain in place for up to half a day, but you probably want a mirror while doing the reshaping.
Stretch Attack (Yang+Fighting): You attack with the activation check by having stretchy Dhalsim limbs, which can hit out to Near Range and deal +1 damage. After the activation attack, the stretchy limbs remain for the Scene or Battle.

Median Jutsu
Bone Weapons (Yang+Fortitude): You must have Bone Capture. You erupt a weapon made of bone into your hand. You can make any type of weapon you want, and it gets the Piercing quality on top of its normal ones.
Change of Face (Yang+Crafts): You must have Malleable Flesh. You instantly mold your face into someone else's. By touching their face, you can even take on their exact features, skin tone, speech patterns and accent. However, they must be the same gender as you. (It specifically notes gender rather than sex, so that could be interesting. However, the game seems to think the two terms are synonymous.)
Flesh Servant (Yang+Crafts): You must have Stretch Attack. You pull off a body part and turn it into a small creature under your control. A hand might become a spider or mouse, a leg might be a dog. The more limbs you pull off, the more mass it has. You can use the servant to attack, deliver messages or just do whatever you want, really. If it is defeated, it falls limp and you need to go retrieve it. If it is destroyed, you lose the limbs involved permanently.
Mend Wounds (Yin+Fortitude): You must have Bending Body. You instantly heal yourself, regaining 3 Health and getting a decent bonus against Poison, Disease and Pain for the Battle.
Sweet Fragrances (Yin+Persuade): You infuse your pores with ki, releasing a sweet-scented pheromone. Anyone within a wide area who inhales the fumes must make a Fortitude check against poison. On a failure, they get -2 to all checks for several rounds, or -3 to resist seduction, as the pheromones lower inhibitions as well.

Advanced Jutsu
Bone for Blood (Yang+Intimidation): You must have Bone Weapons. For the rest of the Battle, any time you are physically attacked, you fire off a boney spike at the attacker, who must make a Defense check or take 1 damage. On a Boost, the Defense check gets harder.
Clone Technique (Yang+Fortitude): You remove a strip of skin from your body that grows into a clone of you within a Round and is under your control. It has your exact skills and abilities. If it is destroyed apart from you, you learn all the information it learned. In combat, it acts on its own Initiative but is at -2 to all combat checks. If you make more than one, the penalty increases by 1 per additional clone and applies to all of them. The clone has its own ki but starts with 0 ki, though it can mold ki and use jutsu. However, any jutsu usage requires it to spend 1 Ki of the appropriate type on type of anything else.
Flesh Stealing Technique (Yin+Crafts): You must have Mend Wounds. On your next attack, you can swap damage for causing the Injured condition, 1-for-1, to a max of 5. Any damage you swapped is restored to you as Health, lowering conditions, or regrowing lost limbs, as you choose.
Gender Switch (Yin or Yang+Fortitude): You must have Change of Face. You instantly change your sex. This is permanent until you use this again. 1 Ki must be spent when activating; Yang is used to become male, Yin female. The change is not illusory or superficial, and is total.
Putrid Stench (Yin+Persuade): You must have Sweet Fragrances. This functions similarly, but instead causes a rancid aroma. Animals flee immediately unless their owner commands them to stay. People in the cloud must make a Fortitude check against poison or take Dazed 2 and become unable to do anything but flee as well.

The Way of Shards is the Earth-elemental jutsu of the Crystal Bearers. On a Boost during activation, you get a +1 bonus to your Birthstone Gift for the scene. On a Backfire, you either take 1 mental damage or Confused 1.
Basic Jutsu
Birthstone Knowledge (Yin+Perception): You peer into a Birthstone and instantly learn the owner's name, immediate intentions, wants, needs and desires. You get +2 to social checks against the owner.
Crystal Weapon (Yang+Crafts): You create a crystalline weapon in your hands. It is essentially unbreakable but vanishes when you no longer need it. You get +1 to all checks with it, but no one else can wield it at all.
Focused Journey (Yang+Perception): Your Birthstone gives you the correct path. Each time you use this, you get +1 to checks during the Ocean or River stage of a Journey.
Swirling Eyes (Yin+Perception): You look into the target's eyes. They resist with Discipline+Speed, and if they fail, they get Confused 2 due to the swirling and shining in your eyes.
Swirling Shards (Yang+Crafts): You make a swirling cloud of crystal in the air around you, giving +1 to Block for several rounds. You may fire the crystals at foes for 2 damage with Marksman+Intuition, but each time you do it eats a Round of defensive bonus.

Median Jutsu
The Crystal Within (Yang+Fortitude): Your skin peels off and you become a being of pure crystal. In this form, you get a decent amount of extra Health and +1 to Fortitude and Stealth.
Reflection Stance (Yin+Perception): You must have Shimmering Barrier. You surround yourself and your target with a number of crystal mirrors that show your image. The target cannot tell you from the reflections, giving you +4 to combat checks against them and +4 Initiative. If the foe attacks the mirrors, they break after 3 damage, with each broken mirror reducing your bonus by 1. However, you may defend against attacks on the mirrors as if they targeted you normally.
Shimmering Barrier (Yang+Crafts): You must have Swirling Shards. You make a reflective crystal barrier that can be quite long. You can use it to stop attacks or seal entries, and the wall has a decent amount of Health. If it is struck with a ranged attack and any of the attacker's dice are a 1, the attack is also reflected at the attacker, who must now defend against it. This does not apply to melee attacks.
Spikes From Below (Yang+Marksman): You must have Swirling Shards. You turn the earth under someone into crystal shards as an attack with the activation. The ground shifts enough that the target may Dodge, but only Dodge or jutsu may be used to Defend. If the attack hits, it does 3 damage and the crystals lodge in the skin, giving -2 Initiative for the Round.
Window to the Soul (Yin+Perception): You must have Birthstone Knowledge. By peering into a Birthstone, you may see everything the target has seen, said or done in the last few days.

Advanced Jutsu
Encase (Yin+Crafts): You must have Shimmering Barrier. You can encase just about any target in a crystal cocoon - a person, an animal, a fireball. You instantly cover the target in a carapace of crystal up to 200 feet square. Anything inside is perserved agelessly (but safely) for several days, and you can reapply during that time. The cocoon cannot be broken from inside. From outside, has 20 Health and Armor 4, and too much force may damage the contents.
Imbue Birthstone (Yang+Perception): You must have Window to the Soul. You choose a gem and cut based on the target's personality and implant the gem in their forehead. This is painful for a moment, but painless after. If the target is willing, this can be done to adults. (It can be done to unwilling children.) This removes the target's Elemental nature and replaces it with a Birthstone. This ritual is very culturally important and is not done lightly.
Lights in the Sky (Yin+Perception): You release crystal molecules into the sky, making the area glitter and shine. No one who lacks a Birthstone may Mold or spend Ki for several rounds, and the difficulty of jutsu activation increases by 1 for everyone but you if you want it to.
Release True Power (Yang+Perception): You must have Imbue Birthstone. You release the seal on your Birthstone, causing your skin to glow and your eyes to become the same kind of jewel. You heal all damage, lower all Conditions by 2 and get +4 to all combat checks and +2 to all non-combat checks for the scene. You may freely use any jutsu and get +3 to the activation check, and you automatically resist all fear effects. When this ends, you get Recovering 3, which causes -2 to all checks and cannot be lowered by Holistics.
Spikes from Above (Yang+Marksman): You must have Swirling Shards. You grow large crystal spikes from the ground that fire into the air and explode into shards. Anyone within a wide area takes 3 damage and Bleeding 1 if they fail their Defense. Crystal Bearers are immune to this.

The Way of Unending Blight is the Metal-elemental disease jutsu of the Yakubyo's Pox. On a Boost, you may raise or lower the Diseased condition of someone in Near range by 1. On a Backfire, you get a cumulative -1 Might penalty.
Basic Jutsu
Aura of Sickness (Yin+Crafts): You become eerie and hard to be around. You get +1 Intimidation and may automatically cause Afraid 1 on Boosts.
Disease Dissolution (Yin+Holistics): With a touch, you instantly cure any sickness, removing all Diseased conditions from the target. They also get +2 to resist new Disease conditions for one day. If you use this on a sickness made by Pox Creation, however, this only reduces the Condition by 1 per use and cannot be used more than once per session for that purpose.
Overwhelm Poison (Yin+Fortitude): You fill yourself with sickness, removing all Poison conditions. On a Boost, you also remove Dosed conditions.
Sense Disease (Yin+Intuition): You can detect sickness within a few miles, no matter how weak it is. You can't pinpoint the source or type, but get +2 Survival to track it down.
Spoil Technique (Yang+Crafts): You spoil food or perishable goods with a look. Spoiled food that is eaten requires a Fortitude check to avoid gaining Diseased. On a Boost, you may affect a room, silo or other large amount of food at once.

Median Jutsu
Plague Transference Gem (Yin+Holistics): You must have Disease Dissolution. You remove the sickness from a target, placing it in a magical crystal similar to a Birthstone. The target is healthy, and you may touch the crystal to someone to give them the sickness the original subject had, at the same level as the original subject. It is noted that the Pox have farms of sick people to make powerful sickness gems.
Rotting Technique (Yin+Crafts): You degrade something normally nonperishable, such as stone or metal. This causes -1 to use the target for several uses. On a Boost, the penalty is -2. (For a wall or suit of armor, this would reduce Armor for several strikes against it, while a weapon would get the penalty on attacks due to rust, say.)
Secret Carrier (Yin+Holistics): You must have Disease Dissolution. You may suppress the effects of a target's Diseased condition for the scene. For the next few days, anyone they come in contact with must make a Fortitude check to avoid gaining the same disease within a few days after that. When the duration ends, the target regains their Diseased condition at double the level and effects.
Sick Lung Blast (Yang+Marksman): You must have Spoil Technique. You inhale all local bacteria, then exhale a blast of diseased wind as an attack with the activation. This hits anyone in a 20-foot cone in front of you, forcing a Fortitude check to avoid 2 damage and Diseased 1.
Sick STrength (Yang+Fortitude): You must have Overwhelm Poison. You absorb the target's disease to gain physical strength. When near anyone with Diseased or Poisoned, you may take a deep breath to absorb the disease. For each condition level you take in, you get +1 to combat checks and +1 damage, capped by Yang. This lasts for several Rounds.

Advanced Jutsu
Corrupted Land (Yin+Survival): You must have Sick Strength. You kneel and pound the earth, tainting a wide area with diseased ki. Trees wither and die, the ground cracks, the air becomes stale, water evaporates instantly. This removes any Elemental bonuses of ninja in the area and givs +2 difficulty to any jutsu affecting the environment directly.
The Dead Tree (Yang+Survival): You must have Corrupted Land. If you activate this while Corrupted Land is active, the effects extend up to a several mile radius, rendering an entire area basically uninhabitable. However, if you use this, you automatically lose all Contacts, as you are shunned by anyone that isn't of the Pox.
Pox Creation (Yang+Holistics): You must have Plague Transference Gem and Secret Carrier. You may create a new disease via 3 days of chanting and dancing, imbuing it into a gem. You choose a number of -2 penalties, Level 1 conditions and 1-damagehits, which then get applied to the victim. The disease takes several dies to take full effect after that, becoming two Diseased 5 conditions. One will not fade until the other is totally gone. This is usually fatal to those who do not give the Pox enough tribute to be cured, and the disease is automatically contagious.
Sick Cloud (Yang+Might): You must have Plague Transference Gem. You crush a plague gem, releasing the sickness in a cloud that hits everyone in Near rang of you instantly, automatically causing Diseased 2 in anyone that has to breathe.
Temple of Death (Yin+Holistics): You must have Sense Disease. You meditate, extending your senses out several miles, pinpointing anyone that has a sickness. You may remove their Diseased conditions and heal yourself of damage or conditions of any kind equal to the level of Diseased cured.

The Way of Vital Currents is the Water-elemental jutsu of the Sisterhood of Blood, which manipulates blood. On a Boost during activation, you get +1 to Intuition. On a Backfire, you get cumulative -1 Perception for the scene.
Basic Jutsu
Adrenaline Technique (Yang+Fortitude): You boost your bloodflow, getting +1 Athletics and +1 Might. You may spend 1 Yang to use this on someone besides yourself.
Blood Darts (Yang+Marksman): You draw blood from your fingers, making a number of kunai that get Brutal on top of their normal Qualities. The darts leave only small bloodstains on impact.
Perfect Cleansing (Yang+Fortitude): You cleanse the blood of the target, lowering Poisoned, Dosed or Diseased conditions and giving +3 Fortitude against Blossom-born poisons and diseases for a day.
Sense Bleeding (Yin+Perception): You can sense bleeding within half a mile, thoug not the cause or severity. You may follow your sense to the location of a source with an Intuition+Perception check. This lasts for the scene.
Stop the Flow (Yin+Discipline): You remove any Bleeding conditions in a decent area, and damage cannot be converted into Bleeding for the rest of the scene.

Median Jutsu
Blood Whip (Yang+Fortitude): You must have Blood Darts. You form a 7-foot whip of blood from your palm. On a Boost while using it, you may automatically cause Knockdown or Disarm.
Draining Trap (Yin+Survival): You must have Sense Bleeding. You trap a decent area you can see. Anyone passing through it must make a Fortitude check or get Bleeding 1 and -2 to all physical rolls for the scene.
Draw Out Blood (Yang+Discipline): You must have Stop the Flow. You draw blood from the living or freshly dead. You may draw as much as you like from the dead. On the living, you cause Bleeding 1 and 1 damage with a touch, and the Bleeding goes up by 1 per Round.
Hideous Blood Mask (Yin+Intimidation): You must have Sense Bleeding. You open the pores of your neck and face, drawing out a layer of blood to cover them. Anyone who sees you while you have the blood mask must make a check against fear or get Afraid 2.
Sacrifice to the Land (Yang+Survival): When you kill someone, you may use this to tap into their passing to replenish the land's ki. All taps on the environment are reset. On a Boost, all friendly ninja in Near range also get +1 Yang.

Advanced Jutsu
Bending Blood to Will (Yin+Discipline): you must have Draw Out Blood. You manipulate the target's blood. For several hours, you totally control them and they can only vaguely recall what they do with a Knowledge+Discipline check. If you force them to harm an Ally or loved one, they get an immediate Empathy+Discipline check against your Yin+Discipline to break free. You do not have fine motor control, so the target gets -2 to all physical rolls while controlled, and you do not know what they are thinking or access their memories. However, you can see through their eyes.
Blood Form (Yang+Fortitude): You must have Adrenaline Technique. You transform into a pool of blood and viscera. You can move at half Movement, are immune to physical damage and may flow anywhere that a liquid could. If you enter a body of water, you fuse with the current and move at triple Movement while in the water.
Blood Mist (Yang+Crafts): You must have Perfect Cleansing. You collect blood in your throat and expel it as a red mist over everything in Near range, causing Sensory Loss 3 to anyone in the blood fog. Also, anyone in it must make a Might check to not drop their weapon or Speed check not to fall over if on a flat surface. You are immune to all effects of your own fog.
Leech Touch (Yin+Fortitude): You must have Hideous Blood Mask. When you hit with unarmed strikes, you drain blood out of the foe and use it to heal yourself. This lasts for one minute and gives you +1 Fighting while active. You heal any damage you cause with unarmed attacks, but cannot go above your max Health.
Sacrifice to the Ancestors (Yin+Survival): You must have Sacrifice to the Land. You call out to the ancestors for aid. For the rest of the Battle, any time anyone takes physical damage - ally or enemy - your party gains 1 Karma.

Next time: Celestial Bats, Boars and Frogs.

The Animals Aren't Body Horror

posted by Mors Rattus Original SA post

Ninja Crusade: Land of Seed and Blossom - The Animals Aren't Body Horror

Bats are a Wood-elemental Celestial Beast whose skill is Perception. See, the Celestial Bat is a master of observation, noticing things no one else does and eavesdropping by habit. They are often used by their summoners as spies and info gatherers, and generally are found flying around their summoner, napping in a pocket or out on a scouting mission. Their Trigger is that while they are excellent scouts and spies, even the best can crack. The party gains 1 Karma when the animal fumbles a stealth mission.

The example Major Animal is a Warrior, Hoshiko. He's about twice the size of a normal bat and vaguely humanoid. He is obsessed with learning gossip and news, and will do anything he can to get it - buy it, trade it, listen for it. He is one of the stealthiest of animals, able to become semi-invisible at will. He's also very friendly and chatty, and can spend hours talking about just about anything before getting bored and wandering away. Only once he leaves does it become clear that he learned much and revealed little. He prefers summoners that are skilled at conversation, and who can either give him valuable information or juicy gossip, or who can manipulate his conversation to get valuable info out of him...though that's not something that happens often. He has 6 Health, 11 Psyche, 5 dice to attack, 8 to defend, Initiative 8, 2 Actions per Round, Armor 1, Damage +0 and 1 Dynamic Action, plus 5 dice in various knowledge and survival skills. He's Speed (+), Stealth (+), Fighting (-) - Hoshiko's an excellent flier that is a master of evading battle, but is not actually a very good fighter. He knows any four jutsu of Beasts or Movement, focusing on extrasensory ones. He can also tell lies instantly, and is able to teach the Deception Proof jutsu even to non-Will of Iron. When he must fight, he can swoop in and go for the eyes, causing Sensory Loss 2 if he does damage.

Legend has it that the Greater Bats have wings so broad as to blot out the sun. This happened during hte Fifth Catastrophe, on top of the spreading of Fa Disease. It's said that the ninja came together and defeated the Greater Bat Suzu in a unified assault that brought peace to many conflicts. Suzu still seeks revenge on the Blossoms for that.

Boars are Metal-elemental and their skill is Intimidation. No one is as stubborn or scary as they are. They are huge, hulking beasts that can end battles before they start, and can teach others how to best intimidate. They are more level-headed than rams tend to be, but are extremely set in their ways. In a farming community it's easy for them to be ignored, but not in other, more urban places. Their Trigger is how stubborn they are - they may not be prone to outbursts, but they will happily sit there uselessly for hours waiting for you to apologize for some slight. The party gains 1 Karma when a disagreement halts progress and causes issues.

The example Major Animal is the Master known as Imasu the Bold. He's a giant humanoid boar, one of the largest boars - around 21 feet tall, and proud to brag about it. He likes being the center of attention, appears to have given himself his own title and is extremely confident. He's super, super muscular, has a long braided beard and wields a giant iron club. His eyes also glow, and he breathes smoke. He boasts that he's never lost, and the truth is that he rarely even fights - most are frightened away by his appearance. When he actively tries to scare someone, legend has it that he has made entire armies faint. Some believe he made these legends up himself, however. To gain his loyalty, a Summoner must be willing to stand against overwhelming odds without flinching, and he especially likes those who stand up for what they believe in even at risk of their own lives and reputations. He has 30 Health, 15 Psyche, 10 dice to attack, 8 to defend, Initiative 2, 2 Actions, Armor 2, Damage +2 and 1 Dynamic Action, plus 5 dice on a variety of physical skills. He is Might (++), Fighting (+), Speed (-), Crafts (-) - he's a skilled warrior and you aren't going to win a contest of strength, but he's slow and easily caught by traps. He knows five jutsu from the Warrior, Survival and Metal. He also knows pretty much all of the Blunt, Rhino and Wildcat styles, and he's immune to Afraid, Knockout, Poison and Embarrassed. While in his presence, his summoner gets +2 to resist those.

The Greater Boars were very powerful in the Plague of Trees period, and in fact the Land of Seed and Blossom was briefly ruled by Shingen the Large, who stood as tall as the highest tree and was once worshipped as a god in the Land. The Third Catastrophe saw his boar minions hunted near to extinction, however, and in the end, Shingen left. He has always wanted to return and reclaim his worshippers, however.

Frogs are Water-elemental and their skill is Holistics. They come in many shapes and sizes, and they know all about poison, as they are often poisonous themselves. They also knopw all about antidotes. They tend to be grumpy and mean unless bribed with meals of bugs, however. The Grim Creepers aren't fond of them, because they especially love the taste of suu. Their Trigger is that they work for food, and running out is bad. The party gains 1 Karma when the frog leaves you in a lurch because you ran out of the bribe.

The example Major Animal is the Warrior Ran. She is a frog about as big as a lion, striped in blue and green. She is the best jumper in the entirety of the Land, and she is a huge busybody. She prefers to hide, despite her size, and is shockingly good at it. She also has a seat on her back that you can ride on. She loves following the soap opera that is human life, and is a compulsive gambler who likes to bet on whether people will break up or not. She's not above nudging people along to keep her money, but most people aren't prone to listening to a giant talking frog, so she's become very good at sneaking around. To get a pact with her, you must have love in her heart. She's often got crushes on her Summoners, but is too shy to mention it and instead prefers to help them find a human lover. She is very bad at doing this. She can also be charmed by a kiss or by showing your love to other humans with grand gestures. She refuses to ever work with Yakubyo's Pox. She has Health 8, PSyche 7, 6 dice to attack, 7 to defend, Initiative 7, 1 Action, Armor 1, Damage +1 and 1 Dynamic Action. She also has 5 dice to anumber of physical and social skills. She is Athletics (+), Speed (+), Fighting (-), Deception (-) - she's fast and nimble, but not a trained fighter and rather gullible. She knows Tiger's Leap, plus four jutsu of Water and Survival. In fact, every jump she makes has Tiger's Leap on it automatically. In her presence, the summoner can use it even if they don't have the jutsu, and if they do, they get +2 to activate it. She can carry only one rider at a time, but since each jump is a mile, she moves very fast. It takes a Might+Travel check not to fall off, however, when she makes her longer jumps. If this is used for a Journey, you can skip every other stage.

Greater Frogs are believed to have prophetic dreams. They tend to have Birthstones, and they use them to sense the flow of the universe. No Greater Frog has ever been summoned to Earth - somehow, their connection to the Frog Realm makes this impossible. However, it is believed that if one were to do so, they could control everyone with a Birthstone with ease.

The book ends on an adventure.Basically, it focuses on the icty of Kiheki, one of the Izou-controlled cities, and could be urn by either Blossom or Izou ninja, or both. The idea is that the two forces both show up to fuck with the Empire and wander into a ninja battle as bandits attack. The ideal is that the two sides befriend each other and try and build some kind of alliance...assuming the Izou helped save a bunch of Blossom lives. If not, well, there will be problems.

The End!

Remaining books: Firebrands (Blazing Dancers and Body Gardeners), Truth and Lies (Will of Iron and Hidden Strands), Clan Pack #1 (three minor clans).