Ninja Crusade: Second Edition: Truth and Lies by Mors Rattus
Ninja CopOriginal SA post
Ninja Crusade 2e - Truth and Lies: Ninja Cop
Like the last book, the two clan focuses are told via in-character lectures. The first focus is on the Will of Iron. It is about a student in the clan studying under the clan's masters. The student has no assigned identity so I'll call them 'she'. Our first lecturer is the man called Justice's Blade, Hagane Katikata. He's an old man who once served as the leader of Imperial law enforcement, and he was extremely good at it. His name still terrifies criminals. While old, he is muscular and active, and he has given away almost all of his possessions since the Crusade began. He is an extremely strict and unrelenting teacher, and his students almost invariably become leaders in the clan. He has a strange sense of humor and a terrible hatred of criminals.
Our initiate is late, but Justice's Blade decides to let her stay as long as she doesn't break any other rules. He admits this is harsh, but that's how he does. He begins with a lecture on himself. He was once the High Marshal of the Empire and Chief Arbiter of the laws of the Empire, and he still uses the old forms of law which praise the Emperor and his divine justice - even as he fights against the Empire. This is because he hopes that one day the Empire will return to its old ways. Justice, however, is something more than even the Emperor - more than any person. It is what makes humans human, what makes them a society rather than a collection of tents. Society cannot exist without law and order. The birth of the Hagane is proof.
Once, you see, there was a village in the Land of Five Blades that was utter anarchy. Murder and theft were rampant, the mayor lived in opulence and innocents suffered without cause. This changed when one warrior tried to establish his own form of order. He attempted to claim the title of magistrate and impose law, but the peasants were too scared to help. The mayor laughed at him and had him beaten and left in the garbage heap. He stayed there, meditating as his wounds mended. He could not take on the whole village himself, not when the law was corrupted. And thus he had his revelation, as he stared at his sword. The blade was steel - strong, capable of perfection. To bring law and order, he must take up that strength and take on the burden of enforcing the law himself. He trained for months to perfect his skills, gathering ot him those he knew to be honest and just. They made forges in the mountains, making weapons as they trained their bodies and mimds. For a two-day period remembered as the Forging, the man and his warriors stalked the roofs of the ivllage, slaughtering bandits and thieves with their new blades and jutsu. The mayor tried to escape by disguise on a boat, but they were waiting for him. The boat burned, with all aboard trapped on it.
The warriors brought law and order, and slowly widened the lands they protected. Many villages heard about their justice and asked for their help and protection. Others refused them, but still appreciated their ability to keep lands secure. This newborn Will of Iron had to remove a few wicked towns from the map, but not many - only when the towns threatened to currupt those around them. The law must be enforced equally, or it means nothing. Since then, the Hanage have served to render judgment, necessary and unpopular. They are secret, but their judgments are public, to send a message to would-be lawbreakers about the risks. Law, they know, supplements desire and natural impulse. All crime is driven by desire, rational or not. To give in to these desires is unethical and undisciplined. Thus, the Will of Iron focus on discipline above all things. They hone their bodies by training and their minds by pholosophy and debate.
But where does the law come from? Who makes them, and what makes following them just? Once, the answer was simple. The Will of Iron served the Empire, following the Imperial code of justice and supplementing the work of the guards and magistrates when needed. Many worked as judges, even hunting other ninja when they broke the laws of the Empire. That was the simpler, easier time. However, when the Ninja Crusade was declared, the clan was shocked. They had never been traitors - but they were hunted all the same. The idea of a law declaring existence illegal, for no reason other than your very nature, is unsound and tyrannical, not just. Justice's Blade denounced the Emperor's actions in court, and was imprisoned for it. He chose not to resist. In prison, he was visted by his brother Kotsei, the new High Marshal. He was given a choice: renounce his clan and serve the new law, or be executed as a traitor. His brother told him he believed this was just, and when Justice's Blade told him he was wrong, his only reply was 'well, one of us isn't in prison.' And so, Justice's Blade escaped, forswearing his loyalty to the Emperor and his brother.
What, incidentlaly, is the code of the Will of Iron? That'd be the Tao of Steel!
- To let one crime go unnoticed is to perpetuate lawlessness.
- With the law on your side, you never have to stand up to your enemies; they will have to stand up to you.
- When your heart and your mind are linked, trust your instincts and accept the consequences. Let justice stand with you and you will persevere.
- Punish the wicked above all else.
- Stopping a crime is meaningless if the criminal can commit it again.
- Nothing is truly absolute: A man may be greedy but legitimate, angry but in control, slothful but full of meaning, prideful but not wicked, kind but hateful, and noble but evil.
- One mistake can lead to major crimes.
- Steel bends but must not break; the same must be true for the law.
- All methods must be considered to preserve order; anything less invites failure and chaos.
- Be as strong in your sword arm as you are in your judgment; mete both out swiftly and ruthlessly.
- A starving innocent is tragic, but a fat criminal is an outrage.
- Fear not failure in yourself but failure in your duty, for your duty is with the people.
- To tolerate a crime today weakens the resolve to enforce the law tomorrow.
Justice's Blade takes our student for a walk. He explains that now is a perilous time, and no clan truly loves the Hagane, for all have suffered when they came to enforce law on ninja criminals. Once, they were respected by the people, but no longer. Now, they must depend on the other clans to survive, seeking aid from the criminals they once fought. It's hard to work alongside murderers, say, even if they hold the knowledge oyu need to complete your mission. Justice's Blade knows that he's old-fashioned and cannot accept some of the compromises that are now needed. He knows that some despise him for his former service to the Emperor, that even others of the clan feel he committed crimes to carry out the law. However, he must exist, to preserve the traditions of the past. He tells the student that honor and justice must never be sacrificed to politics and greed. The principles of the clan are as true now as they were when it was founded, and while they may be criminals, their only crime is to love the Empire so much that they want to save it rather than let it damn itself.
Then he tells an old clan fable, to explain where the will to fight for justice comes from. Once, a clan elder named Masako had to make a terrible choice. He lamented over it, but at last had to side with the law, even though it pained him greatly. The Hagane had never been deputized by the Emperor, though some individuals were. They were seen as aids by some and vigilantes by others. Masako was an idealist that wanted to use his skills for the good of the Empire. He was an amazing warrior and ninja, and swore to serve the magistrate of the city of Oido. For years, he served as the blade of law in the corrupt parts of the city, killing traitors and criminals who were too powerful for the magistrate to touch. Still, he could not get rid of all lawbreaking. His master, the magistrate, then gave him a list of names to kill, telling him they were murderers and thieves. Masako did it, but when he found the last name, he found the magistrate's own guards waiting, ready to kill himself. The man thanked him for his justice, and then committed suicide. Masako demanded an explanation from his master, and was told that he was too honorable to do what needed to be done - he'd never have agreed to eliminating the competition or stealing food shipments to increase the need for the magistrate to take power. Thus, he had spared Masako's honor and lied to him to help him save face and achieve a perfect city. Masako, however, saw himself as having betrayed the law. He rejected the offers of treasure in payment, and instead killed the magistrate.
Then he retired to the wilderness, where he worked to fight bandits and petty crime. Oidi had days of rioting after the death of the magistrate, then their governor, but it soon returned to normal. This is not, however, a lesson in futility. Masako was a good Will of Iron ninja, who served law faithfully. His only fault was serving another man blindly. He cleaned up a city and was a good lawman until his eventual death. He is to be commended for serving the law over his own desires.
We end with Justice's Blade sending the student to a man named Ono, ordering her to return only when she can tell him how many laws truly exist in the world.
Next time: Iron lands.
Make SwordOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2e - Truth and Lies: Make Sword
We join our student as she meets with Ono. Just Ono - he has no other name. He was the smallest (but not youngest) of seven children, and he was kept at home at the forge while his brothers became ninja warriors outside. All of them died, and at last Ono was sent to be the family warrior. He mastered studying while working at the forge, and he is still most at home there. He wears very little clothing and has a massive hammer and anvil tattoo on his back. He does own a set of very light, expertly made armor, though. While he is reclusive, he enjoys having people hang out while he's working, even though he rarely speaks. He likes to listen to stories and songs, and has a soft spot for those who are mistreated due to their appearance.
He is also born and bred Iron Province. He explains that the locals are functional - they don't make more than they need, and are proud of it. They respect the law, though once the land was divided and lawless. That was when the Will of Iron were young, and two other clans made their home in the mountains, and were lawless and cruel. As the Will grew, they realized that they had to protect the local villagers, too, and taught them to make better arms and armor, and how to fight. They destroyed the clans that lived in Iron Province, absorbing them and teaching them to respect the law. In exchange, they learned to master the province, forging it into what it is today. Eventually, the Izou came, and the Will tried to fight them. They failed, and the Iron Province was conquered. They could have kept fighting...but it would have had no meaning, for the Emperor was a generous conqueror and under him, the land prospered. That they must now fight the Empire is a tragedy, but justice must be brought to the Empire.
Ono gets to work making a plow as he talks. He explains that the metal of the land is strong, and it must be approached correctly, or even an expertly made piece will break, while a ruined one can stand strong. The ore must be made in tune with your soul, and wielded the same way. The clan attempts to emulate iron, fluid like heated ore and light as steel, but heavy as iron when they strike. However, steel is not rigid and unbending. The Will of Iron just allows others to believe they are, because this makes them underestimated. Yes, it may seem they are always watching, like spies. This is both true and false. Yes, the Will watch people. However, constantly watching is not effective on its own - you become so focused on what you watch that you do not notice the cries of those in pain next door. People cannot be supervised constantly - the Strands may try that, but the Will believe in freedom. They believe freedom is compatible with law.
To find guilt, they must use different methods than just watching everyone constantly. You can follow a known criminal to see what they're up to...but why not pay a local beggar that knows the guy to tell you if the guy's done a crime? Think about why a crime is done, rather than just blanketing an area blindly. Motive and detail can help you greatly. Use all your skills, including knowledge and martial skill, to be effective. Ono admits he has another secret - one that people like Justice's Blade hate. Crimes have different depths. If you only have time to stop one crime, don't pick the beggar on a street where begging isn't allowed if you could be stopping an assassin going for your lord. Some crimes are worse than others, and a modern Hagane must understand that. Further, mitigating circumstances exist, and so does mercy. A man that steals from a beggar may be greedy, but you don't need to kill him when you can reeducate him. A man trying to murder his daughter's abusive husband should be stopped - but so should the husband. The law is the law, but you are the one that decides how to enforce it.
Ono then takes the student to deliver the plow. They stop after, to rest at a temple. He tells a story about Justice's Scales, once leader of the clan, who did many great things. She was a sculptor, fighter and singer of great skill, and very wise, as well as a friend of her Emperor from childhood. This attracted to her a demon lord, Ozuku - an oni of immense size, with metal horns and three tongues, who craved the flesh of those with pure heart. She could satisfy his hunger for years, after all, and he kidnapped her. As he prepared to cook her Justice's Scales asked him why he wanted to eat her so badly. He explains that she will feed him for a thousand years, and she asks what she has done to deserve this punishment from such a noble lord.
The oni is flattered, and he explains that her nobility will soothe him. She asks what causes his pain and hunger, and he explains that he cannot stand to eat normal food, but still must eat, and only the pure can soothe his stomach. Justice's Scales listened to the demon's laments, soothing him with her words. She was found the next morning, holding a small box. She explained that the demon had shrunk in the night as he confessed his sins, until it was only the size of a frog, and was sleeping in the box now. This story, we are told, is why the Hagane must be virtuous and idealistic. Virtue can lead to amazing feats - binding a demon with your words, or holding off bandits for hours. Virtue sustains.
We then get another story to illustrate this virtue. A Will of Iron and a Grasping Shadow cross in the road, and they bump into each other. The Hagane apologizes, but the Shadow is enraged and lashes out, starting a three day battle. At the end of the third day, the Hagane is defeated and about to die, but the Shadow offers to spare him in exchange for one favor in the future, which must be done. The Hagane agrees. Years later, the Shadow's village is raided by soldiers, and the Shadow calls on the Will to come and protect his family to the death and cover their retreat. He expects the Hagane to renege or attack, but the man just nods and goes to do it. The Shadow is so shamed by this that once his family makes it to the forest, he goes back to fight alongside the Will of Iron before they both die. This is the power of righteousness.
Then they talk about the temple they have stopped outside, Shirin Cha, where the first Will of Iron wrote the Tao of Steel. The temple is built into a series of caverns where he trained and made weapons, and the first laws of the clan are written on bronze plates there. At one point the Empire seized the temple, until twenty ninjas gave their lives to collapse some caves on the invaders and save the main temple by sealing it forever. Now, it has been hidden in the mountainside until it can be opened once more, and it is believed that a number of elders exist in suspended animation via meditation within.
A valley nearby is called Honor's Regret, and you can see a pair of warrior ghosts always fighting there. See, there used to be a Will of Iron who had to bring his son to justice, for the son had killed his wife when he discovered she had not been faithful. They hated and were disappointed in each other, and they died facing each other in the valley, but their souls cannot rest. Walking through the valley fills anyone with negative emotions and hatred, and sometimes the Will of Iron will lure foes there to thin them out...but only if they have the discipline to resist the hatred themselves.
Ono admits that not all crimes can be easily forgiven - but they also do not all deserve death. The clan knows this, so they developed a method by which they could deal with those that were redeemable but not easily let off. These men were not always weak, and could be quite dangerous...so they made a dark sorcery of last resort. This is the Repeating Prison. Those who are imprisoned are placed in great casks full of herbs in potions, then put in a cell. The cask sends the prisoner into a semi-conscious state in which they are, by magic, made to relive their crime from every possible angle, to learn about what they have done and why it was wrong. Even within the clan, the Repeating Prison is very controversial, and it is kept extremely secret because, were its existence to be revealed, it would also come out that a number of nobles and other clans' ninja are kept there...and that could lose the Hagane the support of the Lotus Coalition. To protect the clan, the elders have deemed it necessary to keep the prison's mere existence a secret.
Ono then sends the student on to her next instructor.
Next time: How to be iron.
Clan TiesOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2e - Truth and Lies: Clan Ties
Our new insttructor is Chuushin Naomi. She is a woman in her early 30s, very intelligent and extremely powerful. She wields an immense tetsubo and is ruthless in her enforcement of law. Even the rest of the clan is afraid of her, and she has no patience for weakness of resolve or compromise. She especially hates those who betray their honor out of convienience. She explains to our student her backstory - her father was Chuushin Namon, a ranking Warden of Equilibrium, and she was raised to study balance, duality and being a good Chuushin girl. She might have become as soft as her family, had the clan not betrayed her father. He was accused of being a traitor because he gave more food than he was meant to to local peasant villages, out of a belief that the weak should be strengthened and the strong weakened - Chuushin dogma. However, this meant that a Recoiling Serpent was unable to divert some of that food to feed his own villages. The Serpents murdered Naomi's parents, and when she went to get the clan to take vengeance, they told her the matter was settled by a small fee and the promise of no more assassinations ofr ten years, declaring that the death served the clan.
Naomi was, of course, enraged. She fled the clan, seeking out the Will of Iron. It took her a while - the clan has never really advertised its presence, because a criminal who is stopped solely by being watched is not taught anything. The Will always work better as enforcement than deterrent. Naomi resolved to get their attention by camping out in an Iron Province village. She was propositioned and nearly killed the guy who did it, except that a Will of Iron ninja showed up, beat the man down for his sexual predation, and then killed him. He then fled, but Noami chased him across the city and forced him to listen as she introduced herself and explained she wanted to join the clan. And...well, she did, eventually. She has kept her name because she is not afraid to hide her origins, even though she is truly loyal to the Hagane entirely.
Now, Naomi explains to our student what it means to be Will of Iron. She explains that you must serve a cause greater than yourself. It is more than something you do for the strength to get by - the law is bigger. She tells a story of a village she went to once, which was basically anarchist libertarians - the only law was you were free to do anything you want. She then explains why that's bullshit - it meant someone strong could beat up someone else just for feeling like it, but that doesn't entitle them to do whatever they want without regard for consequences. That's just ridiculous. That is why the Will must exist - to be the reminder that there is someone to stop you, if you do the crime but are not caught. They enforce order in order to preserve peace and protect the common good, doing what no one else should need to do so that no one else has to be a victim.
However, there is no absolute, in fallible law. Even the Tao of Steel must be broken on occasion, whatever Justice's Blade may say - and he knows it, having done it. All aspects of a crime and its situation must be considered. If a man sells weapons to criminals, he might argue that he is not a criminal himself - he doesn't do anything with the tools himself. And what about his agents of transport, or those who make the weapons? Are they guilty? There isn't an easy answer. Some Will even lock themselves away to try and understand the true meaning of guilt. However, these are situations you run into in real life, and you have to be ready to decide. Naomi says that when she ran into this, she stopped the weapons convoy and let the servants choose to flee or fight her and die, and did not pursue any who fled. She convinced the smiths to turn their skills to other, more honorable uses...by threatening them and burning down the weapons forges. She executed the merchant, who was beyond redemption and was the cause of the entire prblem.
To enforce justice, sometimes the clan must act dishonorably. This is their burden, taken so others need not do so. Some believe it arrogant of them, but it requires great fortitude - they knowingly tarnish their own souls to bring peace and good. If anyone could do it better, they'd have stepped up by now. The clan does not profit from its work (ideally) and does not use it to extend their borders. They serve an ideal greater than themselves. They choose to be hated, despised, mocked, even killed for serving the greater good. And they do it knowingly and willingly, without hesitation.
Naomi then begins teaching the student how to fight, and how to fight in ways that are not predictable. She also mentions not being a fan of Justice's Blade, whom she believes is a coward these days that refuses to go out and do things besides teach, even if he was once respectable. Anyway. She says that to be Will of Iron is to train all aspects of the mind and body, to be both a fighter and an academic. By day, they train their bodies to fight and be strong, while by night they study ancient texts of law and scholarship. This is not a reprieve - failure in one's studies is as bad if not worse than failure in one's physical training. Those that enforce law must not be stupid. From there, initiates are trained in small groups on how to spot the signs of guilt and crime. The clan loves its initiates - and so it is very hard on them. Students are expects to be able to defend their beliefs on how law must be implemented, and be willing to fight their fellows over disagreements. This produces less infighting than one might expect - it teaches combat skill and allows them to work out their aggressions safely, as well as teaching them to be willing to fight for what they believe in.
The Sentaka are a group within the clan who specialize in hunting down the worst, most vicious and most dangerous criminals - often other ninja. They are the elite warriors of the clan, driven by total determination. They do not ever rest when on a mission, are utterly fearless, and would go into the hells to catch their quarry. They are the greatest warriors of the clan, but often cited as a problem by other ninja clans. After all, they have been used to capture ninja in the past, regardless of how those ninjas' own clans viewed their crimes. The Sentaka are not loved by any outside the Will of Iron.
The clan's elders are their great champions. They are able to recite entire legal volumes from memory, and know much about the criminal underworld. Their jutsu is strong, their minds sharp. The main responsibility of an elder in the Will of Iron, beyond running trials and organizing the clan, is training the next generation. Each elder is unique in experience, and being trained by an elder tends to form a deep bond between mentor and student, as well as, often, between fellow students of the same elder. The greatest elder, the leader of the clan, is the Justice. The Justice manages all disputes that cannot be solved within the clan, and those who bear the title often take on a secondary part of the name to mark themselves as unique. Justice's Blade is the current Justice, having followed Justice's Scales, who followed Justice's Measure. Justice's Blade is a great warrior...though he rarely fights these days. The Justice is more than just a speaker of law - they are the law. When they speak, it is after great contemplation, because any ruling they make might have effects on thousands. Their rulings apply across the entire clan, and they are precise as a result. Even though Naomi dislikes Justice's Blade, she acknowledges that he is the wisest of the clan.
As for other clans...ell, the Bamboo Herballists are excellent healers and fighters. However, their strength comes from unnatural chemicals rather than their own natural abilities, which the clan does not really approve of. The Blazing Dancers are extremely passionate and very good fighters, but they are very rebellious and often challenge the need for order solely to get a thrill. They'd be better allies if they could be as intense about the law as they are about fun. The Grasping Shadows and the Will of Iron fundamentally conflict. The Shadows believe they know what is best for all, but are innately self-serving and treacherous, while the Will of Iron serve order and society.
The Hidden Strands are interesting, because if the world had been different, they might have been what the Will became. They are manipulators without peer, able to run extremely long-term plans...and if the Will had chosen to manipulate society to bring order, well, it would not be just. Law is enforced where needed, but society must not be twisted to serve law. Law exists to benefit society. Still, the Will work well with the Strands. They disagree on a hell of a lot, but they agree on the need for order, and the Strands are not nearly as weak as they can seem.
The Living Chronicle don't realy make sense to many Will of Iron. They are altruists in recording history fort the future...but that goal is not essential to the fight with the Izou. They need to fight as well as record. The Pack of the Black Moon are almost beautifully simple, with a primal sense of law. They have an uncomplicated, admirable life...but they need to embrace modernity before their children starve for lack of game. However, they are worthy. The Recoiling Serpents...well, they are dangerous. Very dangerous. Warriors with skill but no conscience, willing to do anything for revenge - often revenge fifteenfold.
The Virtuous Body Gardeners are admirable in the lengths they go to for self-improvement, and they have great passion. However, they do not share their abilities, and they have a deep contempt for the law, which keeps them from being excellent allies, even though the Will believe in freedom as strongly as the Gardeners do. The Wardens of Equilibrium are excellent manipulators and debaters, but their actual goals are nearly incomprehensible. They claim to support balance, but live in extravagant wealth while others are in poverty, and so many other things they do are similarly uneven.
As for the Empire? Well...arguably, the Empire is the enemy. And arguably, the Empire is the clan's beloved but sadly fallen child, which must be made strong once more. And both are true. Much has been lost about the time when the clan served the Empire. Now? The Izou fight without honor or kindness. Perhaps the great empire Justice's Blade once served is long dead, and only its corpse still moves. But the mission is the mission. Serve order, serve peace, serve the world. And the Coalition? For all its faults, it must be made to work. It brings together many people with many interests, all trying to come together for the same goal. No wonder there are arguments - people can barely agree on anything, let alone things as important as governance. But it can achieve truly great things when it is working as intended. Teamwork has kept the clans alive now.
And so, we end with Naomi taking the student on a mission to go hunt down a vicious murderer.
Next time: One Strand
The Worst PeopleOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2e - Truth and Lies: The Worst People
For this one, I'm going to assume our trainee is male. Aynway, we open with him at the end of his tougi, his clan test of worthiness. He is sobbing and terrified. A woman has come to him and told him that while she doesn't want to, she will cause him great pain if he does not obey her entirely. Her name is Hasekura Nanami. She is one of the most creative of the Hidden Strands, and she demands respect. Shge's barely over 30, but everyone knows she is an amazing strategist with a knack for creative murders. She serves as an extremely high class escort to many nobles, using her position to root out secrets and corrupt the Empire's nobility. She also collects children for training, and is often responsible for the challenges of each year's tougi, which determines who can actually join the clan. She is rather sadistic and takes a joy in all of her plotting and planning.
She has been following our initiate's life from birth, and was actually present for that birth. The initiate is from a family that has produced Strand ninja for centuries - mostly the first and secondborn, who usually end up having to kill one another to pass the tougi. She says that there is no right or wrong way to feel about the tougi and what had to be done. She has prepared for this one for years, monitoring every moment. It's rare that only one student survives, but she believes this shows great potential. The tougi, after all, is a tool to teach lessons. Pain, survival, hatred - these teach far more than any person might be able to.
The initiate, we are told, has been born to be in the clan, and that is why he was not taken to be part of it immediately. Only orphans and those without special rank get that. Being a noble does not make the initiate better, however - rather, it makes them more useful as part of society if allowed to grow up with nobility. Lower classes are not inferior - merely less able to use their status to control things. All children taken by the Strands become ninja, taught far beyond even nobles get. Noble children, however, live a life that is predetermined. Everything about their upbringing is orchestrated - in the initiate's case, by Nanami herself. She watched over his growth, tested him to see if he could survive poison as a baby, controlled how his family treated him and how he was raised. She recites some events from his childhood and how those that tried to harm him were punished for it, and implies she caused that.
She then explains that this is how all students with potential are treated, and she saw his potential very young indeed. She also says that few ever get to meet their steward kafu, as the ninja that crafts your pre-Strands life is called, in person. She thought he could benefit from it. It was approved by the Masters of the clan, but only if she could test her theory - and that is why the tougi the initiate went through was so vicious and nasty even by Strands standards. Only one tougi is held per season, each designed to teach unique lessons and predict which initiates will be successful ninja. Summer tougi are excellent for endurance challenges due to the intense heat, while autumn is an excellent time for traps. Winter is another endurance test from the cold - and spring? Spring is a lovely time for biological and chemical warfare, and Nanami prefers it. (Of course, the initiate had some advantages, having been exposed to the poisons and diseases used in earlier life.)
Nanami explains that every challenge the initiate could face in a tougi is potentially deadly - especially rival ninjas, captured and told they can only escape through the initiates. This is because the real purpose of hte tougi is to test ruthlessness, resilience and how one deals with other ninja. Ruthless action is rewarded - taking the lead, betraying those that trust you when it benefits you, removing anyone that is a liability. Even those you have grown up with are tools to discard as you need, as the initiate has done - betrayed every single other member of the group, though it pained him to do so. She reveals that he didn't have to - she'd written it in the letter, yes, but that was to see if he would do it. That he has has convinced her that he is truly worthy.
She then has the initiate think on the power and influence he wielded over the other initiates - especially his childhood friend Nao, and the gain for his family now that she has died. Then, while he thinks on this with his eyes closed, she traps him in a cage, naked and unarmed. She says that the lesson here is that you should never trust someone - and should always know that you can lose everything, if you make the wrong decision or hesitate. Even she herself cannot be trusted. Perhaps especially her.
She then wakes him the next day, having failed to escape the cage, despite injuring himself on the bars. Nanami explains that this is good - the pain he feels is something to endure. Enemies will harm you, but survival instinct must defeat this pain. She then gives him a knife and explains that he must cut himself to the point where he can take no more pain, but must survive it. He fails the first night - not deep enough. The second night, he does much better, because he has gone unfed and will not be released until he does it. Nanami approves, having taught him the pain that he can do to himself, and that now he must learn both how to cause and to avoid it. Pain is the best teacher in the world - except for hatred. She knows the initiate hates her. This is good, as long as the hate can be controlled. Hate must be used, not obeyed. All things in the Strands are aobut control. Loss of control is the ultimate failure. She leaves, returning the next day to find the initiate's hatred is weaker than his need to survive by obedience - and that's good. He needs the clan. She tells him he exists solely by the clan's will - and without it, he will die alone. He accepts, and she frees him, to head to his next teacher.
Next time: This time he gets beaten up.
Giant AssholeOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2e - Truth and Lies: Giant Asshole
Our new trainer is Asaito Ganryu, a warrior of the Strands who is noted to have pure Asaito blood dating all the way back. He is undefeated in any battle, despite all efforts, and is one of the best martial arts trainers in the clan. However, he only ever takes one student at a time. He knows, completely and totally, that he is superior to anyone he meets. He is not subtle in the slightest, but everything he does is deliberate. In the rare instances when he doesn't get his way, he gets angry quickly. He is young, but extremely powerful within the clan.
He brings the initiate into his dojo and is very mean about it. He explains that he doesn't care to pretend to niceness - his dojo is a place of total honesty, you see. No lies. He then slaps the kid across the face, to see what he'll do. The initiate doesn't even try to block. Ganryu is no impressed. He isn't sure why Nanami sent the kid to him, except to teach him focus. Nanami was his kafu as well, he explains. They then fight for a bit as training, and beats the shit out of the kid. He is very unimpressed. Then he starts explaining the origin of the clan.
Few know the origins of the Asaito - but they claim, internally, to be the first ninja, though only those of pure Asaito blood are usually taught this. The first of them was Ganryu's ancestor, Asaito Kazu, a trusted advisor to the Orime king who worked to benefit his own family and the wealthy, though only Kazu had any true power among the Asaito. He knew that to empower himself and them, he'd need something special. He traveled the land, and there he saw the poor and downtrodden. He had little care for them, but he did notice a hunger among them, and that sent him home to think. However, then his caravan was attacked by a silver dragon that killed everyone except Kazu. It spoke to him, telling him he had been chosen to carry a burden - to free the people from unjust rule with a magic it would teach.
And so Kazu returned home and taught his family how to manipulate ki. They used the silk they made and other threads to command this power subtly, and Kazu taught other, more common families, how to use ki as well. This and his cunning and use of surprise allowed him to lead the Orime Rebellion. Other clans fear the Asaito for this reason - they were born of betrayal. Big heroes? Sure. They saved the poor and needy from injustice. However, Kazu personally murdered many of his former friends - even his king. The Asaito had a heavy burden indeed. In the Mercenary Wars, they profited, becoming the Hidden Strands of Fate, striking from nowhere and fading just as quickly. They became experts at murder, equal even to the Hrasping Shadows, and became leaders among the ninja clans - though from the shadows, with manipulation. Only the Slithering Gods could resist them.
The Asaito thus claim to have turned the other clans against the Slithering Gods, claiming they had great numbers and were planning to conquer the land. When the Slithering Gods proved too much to defeat, the Asaito orchestrated the alliance between the ninja and the noble forces that would eventually become the Izou, insinuating themselves into the noble and warrior classes. And that is why the Strands control the world. The Ninja Crusade is, of course, merely a temporary hurdle, soon to be ended. Ganryu is certain of that. He is also happy that the initiate is not, in fact, dead.
The next day they keep training - in betrayal, now, and why it is important. It is the key to survival. Even allies and friends must be watched carefully, and one must never be fearful of giving or accepting a challenge. But ultimtely, in all things, it's about power. Power through fear is easy, obvious. It is a powerful motivator...but the fear of death and injury is too easily gained and lost, with even the right opening or hidden weapon turning the tide. A Strand knows death waits behind every mistake. Competition and danger are everywhere, and sometimes even a friend must die for you to succeed. Mourn in secret and move on. Behind fear is the power of choice. Officially, no one in the Empire has the right or power to choose their destiny. One's fate is determined by one's birth. This is a tool to use to your advantage, even as it limits you. As you gain power, however, you gain more freedom, so long as you are careful.
The final use of power is protection. However, that is more than just protecting your property and home. Above all others is the ability to protect those oyu care about. Yes, the Strands are seen as selfish, but they are one and all concerned with protecting things. Their families, the clan, their honor. Sometimes they even have a strong conscience. The important thing is that they can protect what they love - and for that, they need power. Without power, these things can be taken or destroyed. No matter what happens, no matter what issues are between Strand ninja, there is no threat they will not unite against and destroy. If you do not help your fellow Strands against the enemy, you are the enemy.
Now the real training begins, with Ganryu teaching the initiate how to fight a faster, stronger foe. Physical training, he says, is as important as social manipulation, even if not all Strands agree with that. Understanding how the foe moves and thinks is vital. He also makes a lot of vision puns, because he blinded the initiate with a quick eye strike. (Temporarily.) The job, he explains, is not to destroy the foe, most of the time. Outlasting them works just as well, most of the time. Keeping the foe off balance is vital. Throughout all this, Ganryu keeps beating the shit out of the initiate and mocking him. This is because he is showing that an opponent blinded by anger cannot fight effectively. Emotions must be controlled and contained to be a proper STrand fighter. This, too, is power: the power to control the fight. Ganryu ends by saying he expects the initiate to try and murder him pretty much constantly, and will be disappointed if this does not happen, but also that he is certain the kid will not succeed.
Next time: Jerks about clans
At Least This One's Mostly An Asshole To Other ClansOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2e: Truth and Lies - At Least This One's Mostly An Asshole To Other Clans
Our next tutor is Ishikawa Ryota, a master of politics. He has infiltrated the Izou courts, and he and those like him are the ones that keep the idea that not all ninja are evil alive and well. He manipulates nobles easily, swaying them to the side of the ninja. He dresses very expensively, and while he is not young, he looks it due to his jutsus. He is charming, friendly and easy to get along with, very good at stroking egos...but when he wants something, he is not afraid to say so, or to persuade others to give it to him. He is also more than capable of committing bloody murder with a kindly smile. He tells the initiate that when the boy first came, his inclination was to let the nobility kill him, because he was sick of hearing about Nnami and Ganryu. However, he could see potential, and he chose to take the boy on as his student - without Nanami ever asking him to or wanting him to. She was apparently quite upset by this.
Ryota explains that Nanami is wrong - noble blood does make you superior, even to other ninja in the clan who lack it. You see, the birthright it ocmes with is something everyone wants, and the power it grants is easily wasted unless you learn how to use it. He also explains that Ganryu is an idiot who should learn to think before hitting people. Still, manners are very important and he reminds the initiate to listen to teachers, as he goes on to explain why the Strands are the true leaders of the clans. The reason is simple: they lie. They lie very well and very often. No matter what, they can spin a situation so they're on top and in charge. They tell people what they want to hear and know how to tell when others are trying to do the same. The initiate has not yet mastered this art, due to blunt and graceless former teachers who did not understand complex lies.
He has the student begin by telling white lies, and is impressed when the boy picks a scandalous rumor of a far-off province - a good way to kepe a lie from being discovered. However, it is imperfect. A true master must always study the court rosters and their families, for the boy picked a shogun having an affair with a niece who could not exist - because the shogun was an only child. Always important to make sure the person you lie to won't know that kind of thing. The goal of these lies is to alter perceptions and control people without need for jutsu or magic - just an understanding of people. A good lie should contain some amoint of truth, to give it more impact - and more weight, if challenged. Of course, sometimes you must create the truth, manipulating the situation so that your lie is not a lie. That's still a matter of control and power over the situation. Always be ready to protect your lies as if they were your own children.
Ryota explains that most members of the Strands have no Asaito blood whatsoever. Sometimes, those who do are known as Dragon-Blooded, but frankly, only they really care. Yes, Ganryu braged about it constantly, but it honestly does not matter. It is the families with power that have been brought into the clan who are the most important, because they have a vital job - to manipulate the law of the nation in service to the clan. They are the ones who keep the Strands safe, who make their schemes possible. Every class is important...but it is in the nobility that the Strands thrive, and those Strands that are nobles are the heart of the clan, bringing it wealth and power, and fighting the war in the Izou courts. However, they must never believe themselves more important than the clan. That is the height of foolishness. Everyone must work to fight the Crusade, and your own power is less important than, say, opposing legislation that perpetuates anti-ninja sentiments. You must argue with politicians, yes, but any noble could do that. A Strand must work in the system to neutralize the greatest threats - assassination, for example, or sabotage of paperwork. A ninja must not be held back by sympathy or compassion, as a normal politician might be.
Yes, the Lotus Coalition is important. The Strands demanded to join because even they could not fight the Crusade alone - and because they knew that without them, the Coalition would fail utterly. At the time, the Wardens led the Coalition, and their words were too idealistic. Ryota is cynical, and believes that true unity is impossible. The Lotus Coalition is small, because most clans still don't trust it and will not give most of their members to it. The Strands were not, at first, invited to join. The other clans feared their honesty in being liars and traitors. All ninja are liars and traitors, of course, but the Strands are better at it - and so it is common sense to fear them. However, they would not allow themselves to be left to die. So they were persistent, manipulating the other clans and making deals with them, orchestrating it so that the Strands could come in and help save the day, or so that certain leaders were eliminated, until at last they were brought in to the Coalition - a great feat, given how no one actually wanted them there.
Ryota than explains the other clans. The Bamboo Herbalists are idiot savants - stupid, mindless heroes who also possess the greatest medical minds in the world. Their power is immense, but they squander their gifts with daredevil stunts and idiotic acts. The Blazing Dancers are passionate, powerful, emotional people - but they have very little depth. They are mere cannon fodder, but they refuse to acknowledge this and continue to try and fight centuries of Strand propaganda among the ocmmoners. They won't succeed. The Grasping Shadows...well, they were the second ninjas to exist, after the Strands. They were once bodyguards and assassins for the Strands, and frankly they still are. The two clans have been allies for a long, long time. They know much of each others' sins, but would never throw each other away for a short-term gain - it'd be far too costly, as each could destroy the other. Eventually, this situation must end. But not today.
The Living Chronicle are...around. They contribute little of value. However, always be polite to them so they don't write down anything bad about you. The Pack of the Black Moon can be easily spotted - they're the smelly ones with hick accents. They are easily manipulated due to their lack of understanding of the world, and making friends with them is suggested because they are idiotically loyal once befriended. The Recoiling Serpents are to be respected - they are as ruthless as the Strands, if perhaps blinded too often by vengeance rather than survival. The Serpents are a good smokescreen to blame for things you'd rather not be caught doing, as they are the only clan more hated and feared than the Strands.
The Virtuous Body Gardeners are idiots drawing attnetion to themselves, pathetic fools trying to impress people with more than they really are. They want respect, but all they have done is paint a target on their own backs. The Wardens of Eqiulibrium are a worthy but ridiculiyus clan. Like the Strands, they are easily able to betray, with their need for false balance.However, their actions are an easy tool to accomplish your goals - just make someone appear unbalanced and let the Wardens take care of them. Be their advisors and you will command them. As for the Will of Iron? They're fools, least of all the clans. Their concept of justice is hilariously stupid, an excuse for them to kill as they wish. They are no different, at heart, than the Izou. Just make sure you are never their target. Once the Crusade is over, they will be destroyed entirely.
Ryota ends by explaining that tone and inflection and expression are all far more impor tant than the content of someone's words, in understanding them and controlling them. He could easily have been lying throughout his lecture, or at least manipulating the initiate to get him to agree. After all, he isn't exactly of high opinion towards the Lotus. However, he reminds the initiate that no matter how stupid the Lotus Coalition appears, they are dangerous - that many ninja around is a powder keg waiting to go off. You have to be sure to aim it at the Empire.
Next time: I hate these people.
More horrible people.Original SA post Ninja Crusade 2e: Truth and Lies - More horrible people.
Our final 'teacher' is Yuhura Hikari, a Strand messenger who travels in the guise of a noble. She uses this to deliver important packages and keep an eye on key areas to prevent rivals from going after them. She is extremely influential, with great pull on many major Strand leaders. She dresses to make her noble status obvious to anyone looking at her, and while she is young, she demands respect. Loudly and frequently. She is condescending, loud and obnoxious at all times unless sharing secrets with her friends or on a mission where she has to be quiet.
The initiate has been ordered to travel with her, and she wants him to spend more time enjoying his trips. She's been all over Silk Belt Province, which she views as her home, as well as other parts of the empire. She is here to bring the initiate to his next assignment, having done well in the courts of Tennokiba. She explains that she can be so loud and brash because she's hiding in plain sight, manipulating the expectations of others. The carriage is taking them to deliver messages on their journey, and she epxlains that a noble is a wonderful messenger, because it makes traveling easy and comfortable, and no one ever suspects it. Not that the job is easy - often, murder must be done to get information. Travel is safe on roads, but heading to hidden villages is less safe, and sometimes being loud and tough is all you can do to keep bandits off your back. But hey, it gets you access to deep and powerful secrets, which are the best secrets. Hell, just controlling when certain deliveries arrive or don't arrive at all is a very powerful tool. A messenger must be trusted...but they are still Strands, with all that entails.
Tennokiba is a terrible and annoying city, and Hikari hates it. It's a mass of secrets and depravity, where the criminals and politicians are often the same people. Corruption is rampant, and the STrands manipulate it to make the clan prosper...but often, it feels like Tennokiba is corrupt solely for the sake of corruption, as there are too many manipulators around and too few victims. By day, of course, it's a beautiful city of the Empire...but by night, it is a murderous cesspool. It was originally founded as neutral gorund between clans, to allow negotiation and discussion and dirty dealing. The name, meaning Heaven's Teeth, is because Heaven has been known to devour those who made the wrong choice. As the Strands were experts at deals, they quickly took control of Tennokiba, though it maintained its open neutrality officially. The Grasping Shadows could easily be blamed for many of the unpersonings that happen there, but the Strands are happy to use the city to get other clans to do terrible things so they don't have to, as well. Now, the city is the only real place a ninja can still get a job working for politicians - and even that's not totally safe any more. Tennokiba has broken free of its controls, and now even the Strands are just part of its great, terrible machinery rather than steering it. But it does, at least, have excellent taverns and drug dens. The red light district is one of the best in the world.
The next stop is Kaiko Village, the best silk producers in the province and the central village of the Strands' thread-creating operations. It must be kept safe, fat and happy, so the clan maintains its silk. Nowhere else has better silk, or silk more easily imbued with ki. The people spend their entire lives caring for, raising, harvesting and even eating silkworm larva. The cost of all this, however, is that much of the money made off the silk goes to fund the Emperor's crusade. However, it's also the home to the best threads for the Strands - for example, White Virgin thread, made only from the hair of elderly women who have never had sex. Such threads are extremely potent, as are the 100-Year Threads, which are soaked in blood for ten decades, to dye them red. The blood, of course, is from the clan's enemies.
From Kaiko, they head on to Jikankei, a city of artists. It was once the home of Tatagami, who carved the Imperial Throne and then dismembered himself out of depression. It is also the site of the death of Tetsu Chiyo, who defended the town from many ninja and has been the focus of Imperial propaganda since the Crusade began. They are now home to the Chiyo Force, an all-women battalion that is expert in the sword and hunts down ninjas. The city is also home to the Juuichi Library, where the clan (and often the Emperor) have kept vital historic texts that could not be trusted to the Living Chronicle. The clan's texts are prophecies - or rather, plans laid out centuries ago by the Strands which have culminations yet to come. Hikari, however, thinks the place is extremely boring and not worth going to because of how much they hate ninja.
The true destination, she reveals, is the port city Unmeishi. It is the main port used to trade with the Land of Mountains and Valleys, major allies of the Empire. It is also a good place to learn languages and meet people from across the world, while being rather less sinister and corrupt than Tennokiba. It is also known as the Sister of Fate, because the Strands have such control there. Many training facilities are spread through the city, and it is connected to a number of hidden villages. The clan mostly uses it to choke out the northern supply lines in order to strain ties between the Mountains and Valleys and the Emperor, at the request of the Lotus Coalition - a plan that Hikari thinks is surprisingly farsighted of them.
Then she reveals she lied - her cargo, a letter, was instead meant to go to a temple, not Unmeishi. She then attempts to murder the initiate so that she can take his place and deliver the letter. The two fight, and the initiate emerges victorious. She dares him to kill her, but he chooses to, instead, just tie her up, take the letter and leave her cursing and spitting. We end with the initiate meeting again with Nanami, who compliments him on taking the letter and not letting Hikari be the one to arrive. The letter, in fact, was a map to the temple and invitation for either the initiate or anyone that could take the letter from him to attend this meeting. Hikari wanted to steal it, but failed, though Nanami is surprised she came out of it alive. She reveals that she is one of the three masters of the Hidden Strands. The others are Master Whisper, the eldest member of the clan and its best strategist, and Master Hayari, her teacher and the leader of the triumvirate. Togeterh, they rule the Hidden Strands and plan its moves. Nanami invites the initiate to join her as her student directly, so she me reveal the truth about the Strands their involvement in the Crusade.
That's where the story ends, but you will recall the truth from the core: the Strands started the Crusade by orchestrating the murders of the Emperor's family. They claim to have killed the leaders of the clan that ordered this, but they're still the Hidden Strands and probably still think the situation can be controlled. As you might have noticed throughout this running narrative, the Strands have a history of believing themselves to be in control of situations and a tendency to believe everyone else is an idiot. They are also, uh, not very correct about that kind of thing, most of the time.
Next time: Mechanics.
You can also be horrible.Original SA post Ninja Crusade 2e: Truth and Lies - You can also be horrible.
First, we get some new Temperaments (Sadistic/Fire, Treacherous/Metal), new Focus (Bounty Hunter/Warrior) and new Afflictions (Sole Survivor/Civil Discord, Hidden Strands only). But you're here for the fighting styles! Deer Style is a defensively focused martial art, designed to render opponents unable to harm you before you take them out. It focuses on blocks and damage avoidance, and often uses sai. OFfensively, they tend to hit hard, but not often.
Levels 1-3: When you successfully Block, you deal 1 physical damage per level to your attacker.
Level 1: You may take a -4 penalty to your attack in order to do 4 damage on a hit.
Level 2: Your attack penalty when using Fatal Blow is reduced by 1 per successful Block made in the Round you use it.
Level 3: The penalty is reduced by 2 per Block now.
Level 1: When you get a Boost on a successful Block, you may give the attacker's weapon the Fragile quality. If you do it a second time to the same weapon, that weapon breaks.
Level 2: You now replace a Quality with Fragile rather than adding it, and the wielder also gets -1 to use the weapon.
Level 3: You now just instantly break the weapon, and when you do, the attacker takes 1 damage.
Silkworm Style is practiced almost exclusively by the Hidden STrands, mostly because it is built around using threads to fight. It focuses largely on close combat takedowns and quick entanglement, because the style has very little in the way of ability to actually take a hit.
Level 1: On a Boost while grappling someone, you may entangle them with strands, reducing their Actions for the round by 1. If they are knocked to 0 Actions, they become prone and unable to move. This penalty ends once the cocoon is attacked twice by a Sharp weapon, cutting the threads.
Level 2: The target also gets -1 to all Actions and Reactions while entangled in the cocoon.
Level 3: The cocoon can take four attacks from a Sharp weapon before it breaks.
Level 1: You get +1 per level to Grab Action and Grab Defense rolls.
Level 2: You deal +1 damage while in a Grab.
Level 3: You can grapple with two different targets in Close range at once.
Level 1: On a Boost during a Block, you may immediately cause a Grab. You get +1 to Initiate Grab Actions.
Level 2: You now only need two successes rather than a full Boost to use the level 1 ability, and the Initiate Grab bonus rises to +2.
Level 3: Now you only need one success rather than two, and the bonus rises to +3.
We also get some new 99 Styles. Precious Strands is a Hidden Strands-exclusive style, designed around utilizing one of the clan's three special kinds of thread. Even the best Strand can only ever learn one of the three technique trees, because mixing the threads is forbidden and deeply offensive to the nature of the threads and their uniqueness.
Level 1: You get special red threads soaked for a century in the blood of the clan's enemies. Attacks and jutsu using these threads ignore one level of Armor per level.
Level 2: When attacking a non-living target with the threads, you double any damage dealt.
Level 3: Damage is now tripled against non-living targets rather than doubled.
Black Widow's Thread
Level 1: You get special black threads made from the hair of widows whose hair was never cut until their deaths, then soaked in the tears of the innocent. Attacks and jutsus using these threads do +1 damage per level.
Level 2: You get +2 Intimidation during Battle.
Level 3: Attacks or jutsus using these threads cause Bleeding 2 any time they deal damage.
White Virgin Thread
Level 1: You get special white threads made from the hair of elder virgins. You get +1 to all activation checks for Basic jutsus of the Way of Spun Threads.
Level 2: Your bonus also applies to Median Jutsu of the Way of Spun Threads.
Level 3: Your bonus also applies to Advanced Jutsu of the Way of Spun Threads, and your threads are now entirely unbreakable.
Sentaka is the other 99 Style - Will of Iron exclusive, this time. It is the special training given to those members of the clan who hunt down mass murderers, serial killers and rogue ninja. It is like Summoning in that it's rank-based as well as level-based, with level 2 only available at Rank 3 and level 3 at Rank 5. When a Sentaka is given a duty, they msut complete before they return with the proof, and will only be given a new mission once all evidence has been corroborated. They generally get harder missions each time, and these are longterm, ongoing jobs which are considered to take precedence over even Lotus Coalition missions, should the two conflict.
Level 1: You get +1 to activation checks for Basic jutsu of the Way of Heaven's Judgement, and you may double your Rank bonus to social interactions within the clan. At rank 2, you get Sentaka Reputation as an 'Ally'. When you need anyone, even a platoon of Izou soldiers, to follow your orders for the greater good, you may mark the Owe Favor box and they will obey, so long as it is in pursuit of your assigned target and done only once per story. At the end of the story, you clear the box.
Level 2: You get +1 to activation checks for Median jutsu of the Way of Heaven's Judgment, and you may add your Rank to any Fighting checks made against your assigned target. At rank 4, you automatically succeed against any fear, poison or trap checks. Further, you may use Sentaka Reputation twice per story.
Level 3: You may spend 1 Yin to instantly know if your assigned target is within ten miles, and if so, in which direction. You may spend 1 Yang to get +10 Movement while pursuing your assigned target.
Next time: New jutsus and Animals.
Magic powers.Original SA post Ninja Crusade 2e: Truth and Lies - Magic powers.
The Way of Metal gets some new jutsus.
Conductor (Yin+Fortitude): You activate this to conduct energy through yourself. When targeted by an energy attack, such as fire or lightning, you absorb it into your body. For every 2 damage you would have taken, you instead gain 1 Health, to a max of your maximum Health. This lasts for a number of absorptions.
Detect Ore (Yin+Intuition): You may sense the presence of any metal within 300 feet, and you know what kind of metal it is. On a Boost, you detect out to 600 feet.
Metal Immunity (Yin+Fortitude): You harden your skin, and it shines metallically. You automatically halve any damage you would otherwise have taken from any metal weapon or Metal-aspected jutsu.
Spiked Barrage (Yang+Marksman): You must have Sharpen Blade. You hurl a piece of metal and it becomes hundreds of tiny shards. The defender must make three Defense checks against your activation, taking 2 damage for each one they get hit by. You may, if you have no piece of metal, use this on any armor you are wearing, permanently reducing its Armor rating by 1. You can use someone else's armor this way at a -2 penalty.
Iron Warrior (Yin+Fortitude): You must have The Metal Within and Metal Immunity. Blades erupt out of your skin. You are considered armed with Paired weapons and get +2 to all combat actions, +2 damage and +1 Dynamic Action per Round.
Magnetic Storm (Yang+Might): You must have Spiked Barrage and Magnetic Propulsion. You affect the magnetic energies around you within a 500 foot radius. Anything that has even a little metal in it and weighs less than 1000 pounds begins to spiral around the area. All metal weapons are disarmed, pieces of armor is stripped away, someone in full metal armor will get dragged through the air. Anyone in the area must make a Dodge at -2 or take 2 damage from random debris. You may spend a Dynamic Action to spin things faster, forcing another check, at any point during the Round.
As does the Way of Heaven's Judgment.
Punish the Guilty (Yang+Empathy): You must have Sense the Guilty. You can only use this against those who have a Mark or who you have sensed the guilt of. You get +1 Fighting and do +2 damage against them for the rest of the Battle. If they have a Mark, double these bonuses.
Biting Tongue Technique (Yin+Empathy): You must have Deception Proof. The target suffers a cumulative Pain 1 condition each time they tell a lie to a straightforward question. A clever liar can roll Intuition+Deception against your activation to avoid the damage by bending the truth rather than lying. This lasts for several questions.
Justice's Martyr (Yang+Empathy): You must have Eye for an Eye. For the next few hits, you halve all damage you take, rounding down. If you take at least 3 damage after the halving, you also gain 1 ki (type of your choice) from the hit.
Justice's Survival (Yang+Empathy): You must have Hunt the Guilty. You spend one hour meditating when you activate this. After that, you do not need to sleep, eat or drink for several days. You also heal 2 damage (of either type) and reduce a single Condition of your choice by 1.
Justice's Mantle (Yin+Empathy): You must have Blind Justice and Part the Mystery. You glow with an aura of pure justice and authority. Anyone facing you must make a check against fear or lose 1 Psyche and get Afraid at a level based on your Yin. Any opponents in Battle who fail the check also get -2 to all checks against you.
The Way of Spun Threads, also.
Cut Threads (Yang+Speed): You may cut any thread in half - including clothing or ki-imbued strands such as from the Thread Web or Cloth Mask jutsus. On a living target, you can cut their skin to leave a nasty scar and deal 2 damage.
Needlepoint (Yin+Crafts): You may activate this when using another jutsu. Any threads used in that jutsu ignore an amount of Armor and can burrow into walls.
Heart Strings (Yin+Holistics): You must have Needlepoint. You get -1 to activating this, but it launches threads at your foe as an attack with your activation. The attack ignores Armor and, if it hits, wraps around the heart and squeezes, doing 2 damage and causing Pain 3 and Injury 1. You may spend Dynamic Actions for the rest of the Battle (or until the threads are cut, requiring an attack at -2 that does at least 4 damage) to deal 2 damage each time, unresistably.
Lashing Whirlwind (Yang+Fighting): You must have Thread Web. You extend deadly threads to attack everyone in Near Range with your activation. Opponents can only Dodge. Those hit roll a d10 and get damage and conditions based on their roll. On a Boost, you may adjust their results up or down on the chart by 1.
Life Lines (Yin or Yang+Holistics): You must have Heart Strings. Threads extend from your palms, back and mouth. You get +2 to all combat checks, +2 Initiative, and +2 Health. The threads close any wounds you have, removing Bleeding entirely and reducing any other physical Conditions by 1. If you would lose a limb or even your head while the jutsu is active, the threads reach out and reattach it immediately.
Next time: I lied, animals then. Spiders, Peacocks and Silver Dragons.
HELLO I AM A SPIDEROriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2e: Truth and Lies - HELLO I AM A SPIDER
Spiders are Metal-element, and their skill is Deception. They are master manipulators and trappers, able to achieve tricks far beyond those of humanity, though they do like teaching ninja to emulate them. They are also very easy to hide, as they can all change their size between the size of a fingernail and the size of a large hand at the least. Many like to ride on your ear, feeding you hints on how to betray and poison your foes, or using their tiny size to sneak around and gather information. Their Trigger is that they lie, uh, all the time. Pathologically. The party gains 1 Karma when they find themselves in a bad place because of the spider's lies.
The example Major Animal is Amimono, the Eight-Legged Stalker, a Warrior. She lives in the Iron Province's mountains and likes to eat humans, whom she understands deeply and lures with promises of riches. To earn her loyalty, a summoner must be able to see past her treachery and avoid getting eaten. She is hunted all the time by the Will of Iron for the killings she has done, too, so any ninja that would summon her must be able to defend her from them. If she keeps this up, she may honestly just need to leave Earth Realm in favor of the Spider Realm to avoid getting destroyed. She has 9 Health, 9 Psyche, 7 dice to attack, 6 to defend, 2 Actions per Round, Armor 1, Initiative 8, Damage +1 and 1 Dynamic Action, as well as 4 dice in a wide variety of skills. She is Stealth (+), Crafts (+), Fighting (-) - she always stalks her prey and uses traps whenever she can, but is not good at straightforward battle. She knows three jutsus from the Ways of Spun Threads, Movement and Metal, plus Unheard. She can turn into a beautiful woman if she feels like it, too, and can turn back at will. Further, anyone she bites is poisoned by her paralytics, and loses a number of Actions and/or Dynamic Actions. If her Summoner has any similar effects, they last twice as long in her presence.
The Greater Spiders tend to enjoy hanging out in Earth Realm, usually on the border of Iron Province and Five Blades. They can grow to the size of a house, but they all are able to take on human form. They like to watch humans and wait for the perfect moment to strike in order to take over a town, region or even a whole province or nation.
Peacocks are Metal-element, and their skill is Performance. They are the m\ost beautiful and elegant of the Celestial Animals, and they are known to be loud and flamboyant at all times. They also firmly believe in justice, and get on very well with the Will of Iron as a result. Their Summoners tend to wear a feather to identify themselves and allow their Peacocks to track them down if required. Their Trigger? They love justice perhaps even more than the Will of Iron. The Party gains 1 Karma when the Peacock puts themselves and their summoner in harm's way to pursue justice.
Hane of the West is the example Major Animal, a Warrior. He once lived in the Imperial palace, pretending to be the former pet of the Emperor's now dead mother. Her death was a great shock to him, especially as he got sent away by the boy Emperor due to being a reminder of her loss. He watched the Emperor mature, and prevented numerous assassination attempts in the hope that he might one day rejoin the Imperial family. That ended when the Ninja Crusade began, and now Hane leads a number of freedom fighters who are trying to free the captive Celestial Animals of the Izou. He appears to be an entirely normal peacock, but is extremely intelligent and very firmly believes in defending the weak. He speaks quietly and with few words, but always important ones. Those that would summon him must have similar views on the importance of freedom and loyalty, and he especially likes the Will of Iron, as well as some very lucky Herbalists and Dancers. He has 9 Health, 9 Psyche, 7 dice to attack, 6 to defend, Initiative 8, 1 Action per Round, Armor 1, +1 Damage and 2 Dynamic Actions, plus 4 dice in a number of physical and mental skills. He is Fighting (+), Might (+) and Speed (-) - he's known for slow, methodical attacks, using his overwhelming strength in battle. He knows four jutsu of the Ways of the Warrior, Fire and Metal. He is immune to the Pain, Confused and Afraid conditions and automatically passes all fear-based checks. Further, he may spread his plumage to reflect the sun's power, blinding nearby foes that fail a Percpetion+Fortitude check (Sensory Loss 4), which fades by 1 per round...and even on a success, it causes Sensory Loss 1.
The Greater Peacocks are exceptionally proud, even by Peacock standards. It is said that the Emperor's slight against Hane of the West has reached their ears, and many have vowed to never enter Earth Realm again. They really have no need for humans, and their pride will not allow them to accept disrespect. If they did come, however, they wield the sun's might and could probably burn the entire Empire to the ground in seconds. Few would bother to do so, however. It would be beneath them.
Silver Dragons are Metal-aligned and their skill is Perception. Befriending them is a slow, difficult process in which one must prove to be a benefit to the dragons. If they are convinced, they will give the honor of protecting a young Silver Dragon, which resembles a three-foot-long silver python. How they handle this will determine their entire future relationship with the dragons. These dragons are able to grow wings and look through solid objects at will, but they are quite fragile until their scales grow in. They care a lot about knowledge, hoping to learn everything they can about life. Treating them well is also a good way to find out what their elders will like as gifts. Their Trigger is that thirst for knowledge. The party gains 1 Karma when the demands of the dragon for knowledge bring them to greater danger than may have been expected.
The example Major Animal is Asuya, the Great Collector, a Master. She is unlike most dragons in that she enjoys visiting the world of ninjas, and will happily allow foolish ones to summon her in exchange for a promised favor. Thus her name - she has collected debts from almost every ninja master. She is 25 feet long and very potent, but a shrewd and greedy bargainer. She lvoes meddling in human affairs, and is particularly enjoying doing so in the Crusade. She firmly denies any idea of the Hidden Strands being descendants of her kind, but is more than happy to use these legends to manipulate that clan, often guiding them to terrible acts that serve her desires. Some believe she even caused the Crusade. She has 24 Health, 36 Psyche, 7 dice to attack, 10 to defend, Initiative 8, 2 Actions per Round, Armor 2, Damage +2, 3 Dynamic Actions and 5 dice to a number of physical and knowledge-based skills. She is Knowledge (++), Marskman (+), Intuition (-) - she is very intelligent and can easily turn this to use in battle, but she can sometimes lose her head in doing so. She knows whatever jutsu she needs, but mostly uses the Ways of Spun Threads and the Unseen. She can see through physical objects at will (as can all her kind) and can teach Penetrating Senses even to non-Wardens. She can also choose, on defeating a foe, to gain a Favor from them rather than killing them, and iwll often set her summoners to follow up on these favors due to how busy she is. Any given ninja can have up to three such Favors at any one time, and calling one in gives +4 to an attempt to do something with the assistance of the person owing the Favor. Once it is called in, the Favor is erased.
Some believe that the Living Chronicle serve a Greater Silver Dragon named Takayuki, who is said to live below the Grand Library in the Land of Crashing Waves. If this is true, the eldest of the clan g ive him scrolls filled with the world's knowledge, allowing him to follow world events despite not rising in centuries, if not more. However, wherever he is, Takayuki is hated by all non-silver dragons, because he does not care at all about humanity except in terms of what knowledge they can give him.
Next time: The Sons of Steel
Robot NinjaOriginal SA post Ninja Crusade 2e: Truth and Lies - Robot Ninja
The Sons of Steel are also known as the Coldhearts, the Murkonin Clan and the Stones. They practice Bear and Deer Styles, and their jutsu is the Way of the Iron Mind. They get +1 Discipline, +1 Fighting, +1 Intuition, +1 Travel and +1 Yin. They are outcasts not only from other ninja, but from humanity in general. They believe that emotion is holding us back from nirvana, and they spend their time in meditation designed to quell their own hate, anger and passion in order to become perfect beings - which is to say, beings whose every action is calculated and driven by logic. You see, back when the Izou Empire was first founded, there was a radical movement in the temples along the Five Blades border. Several ninja, tired of the endless battles and coups between their clans, debated over what the real cause of suffering in the land was.
One ninja claimed it was walth - only by abolishing greed could all be content. Another said it was fear of others that caused fighting, and peace could come only by uniting all into one clan. The third listened to the other two with great intenseity, and he found his answer only in his own anger. Emotion, he realized, was the cause of suffering. Envy over another's possessions only gnawed at you because you allowed it. To feel hatred and fear for those you don't know is possible only if you let it. By mastering all emotion, one could perfect this stillness in the soul, which he called the Iron Mind, and channel themselves to greater things. This trio, who would become the Murkonin Clan, established a remote observatory on top of a nearby mountain. Thus were the Sons of Steel born, open to anyone who would purge themselves of emotion and focus on order.
The Murkonin have learned exercises that, while painful, reduce future pain. They focus on a life governed wholly by the mind ratehr than the heart, and their time is spent either in meditation on this or intense physical training. The Sons of Steel are respected for their dedication to life without emotion, but others insult and fear them for it. The Sons accept the insults hurled upon them as a test of resolve. They are welcomed by those that do not like brash, loud people, but are rejected for their coldness and unfeeling nature. They view the Will of Iron as pretenders, claiming to follow a higher creed. They cannot truly impose order on the universe until they accept order in themselves. Thus, the Murkonin believe that the Hagane have the potential to enforce a perfect empire only if they take the logical step and achieve the Iron Mind. Until this happens, they are only deluding themselves.
The Sons of Steel have joined the Lotus Coalition because, in the current political climate, it is only logical to take power in numbers. However, the organization has many problems, as tempers and feuds plague it despite the Empire's threat. While there are not many Sons of Steel, they have been instrumental in solving many rivalries within the Coalition in order to increase the chances of survival. When the Crusade ends, they plan to return to their normal life - bringing blind and total justice and order to the land.
The Gift of the Murkonin is that their minds and bodies are in tune with each other almost totally. They may use Discipline for any check that would normally use Fortitude, and they get +2 on all checks against thigns that might affect their emotional state. Their Trigger is their lack of emotion. They have no empathy, nothing but calmness and contempt towards display of emotion. The party gains 1 Karma when showing emotion would have saved them from tough times. Their Contacts are Seta Sawako (Fighting), a wandering swordswoman always looking for a challenge. Tabata Hozumi (Perception), a genius mathematician who works for many Izou generals. Sako Ichisake (Empathy), a childhood friend who is always trying to bring about an emotional response. Onaga Katsumoto (Crafts), a swordsmith who dreams of outfitting an entire army with custom blades. Domen Kenshin (Athletics), a mountain climber who is always pushing himself and always has a good story to tell. Matsushima Ema (Survival), a woman determined to catalog all the creatures that enter the Izou lands from the Land of Five Blades. Bonds:
- Choose one ninja who you steer clear of because they show so much emotion it makes you uneasy.
- Choose one ninja who also shows little meotion, making them your go-to for strategy and companionship.
- Choose one ninja who used to be your friend, but is now put off by your current emotionless existence.
The Way of the Iron Mind is the Metal-elemental jutsu of the Sons of Steel, designed to give mental power to those who can control their emotions. On a Boost, you may use iether Closed Mind or Without Emotions for free, even if you don't know the jutsu used. On a Backfire, yo get a cumulative -1 penalty to Discipline.
Closed Mind (Yin+Discipline): For the rest of the scene, you get +2 against fear, illusions or any effects that might alter your emotions.
Eating My Emotions (Yang+Discipline): If you have any emotion-altering Conditions, such as Afraid or Dosed, you may remove a number of them and recover 1 Health or Psyche.
Focused Might (Yang+Discipline): You focus on a specific target, ignoring all distractions. You get +2 to combat checks and +1 to damage against that target. You also get +2 against all Feints attempted on you. These all last for the rest of the Battle.
Forget the Pain (Yin+Discipline): For the rest of the scene or Battle, you may ignore all Pain conditions, though they are not removed or lowered.
Without Emotion (Yin+Empathy): You remove your emotions, gaining Armor 1 against mental attacks.
Burdening Strikes (Yin+Fighting): You focus energy into your blows, shoving your grief and sadness onto your targets for several attacks. Successful hits do +1 damage and cause Slowed 1 due to despair.
Centering the Self (Yin+Intuition): You cast out your senses, treating all foes as if they were one Range closer - Near foes are Close, Far are Near and Distant are Far.
Clearing the Mind (Yin+Discipline): You must have Eating My Emotions. You clear your mind of doubt and confusion, instantly removing any Confused, Dazed or Embarrassed conditions.
Emotionless Stance (Yang+Intuition): You take a defensive posture and abandon emotion, allowing you total understanding of the foe. You get +3 to a number of Defense checks, and Armor 1 for the rest of the Battle.
Loss Technique (Yin+Discipline): You must have Without Emotion. You touch someone and remove one emotion from them, such as fear or compassion. This is often used during training by the clan to get initiates used to operating without emotional urges. The target may automatically succeed against one relevant trial - removing lust, for example, would grant immunity to seduction, while removal of mercy would make it easier to carry out an assassination. This lasts for several days, and any target can only have one use of this jutsu active on them at any time.
Charged Emotion (Yang+Discipline): You must have Emotionless Stance. You place your emotional energies into your weapon. You get +2 to all attacks with the weapon and can ignore up to Armor 2. Your weapon deals 3 damage, is indestructible and cannot be disarmed. These effects all last for the rest of the Battle.
Festival Antithesis Mantra (Yin+Discipline): You must have Loss Technique. You remove all emotion from anyone within a very wide area (potentially several miles) for the rest of the scene. They are all driven entirely by logic for that time.
Purging the System (Yin+Fortitude): You must have Eating My Emotions. You remove all foreign bodies within yourself, instantly removing any Diseased, Poisoned or Dosed conditions.
Striking Back (Yang+Speed): You must have Emotionless Stance. You sense the flow of the universe around you. Any time you successfully Block an attack, you may use a Counterattack free, without needing to spend a Dynamic Action.
Whiplash (Yang+Fighting): You must have Centering the Self. This jutsu works even if you fail to activate it. On a successful activation, you may perform an immediate attack on any target within Far Range, using Fighting+Discipline+Speed. You launch at the target, attack, then jump back in a single action, with no Range penalties. The foe cannot make a Retreating Attack. On a failed activation, you do this, but can only target out to Near Range and only use Fighting+Discipline for the attack roll.
Next time: The Veiled Ones.