This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
By J. Edward Tremlett By Eloy Lasanta Art by Melissa Uran By Tony Murlin
The Empty Hand Martial Arts in the new World of Darkness
By Eloy Lasanta Art by Christopher Lee Simmons
15 Spotlight On: The NecroCyberz A new online Guild for Wraith: The Oblivion Of Floating Spirits Tips for playing Yulan-Jin in Kindred of the East
Art by Joshua Gabriel Timbrook
20 Justiﬁcation Vampire: The Requiem ﬁction 22 The Broken Mirror A secret sect and a broken mirror. Fiction for Kindred of the East
By Daniel Acaba
Columns & Departments
Letter from the Editor
By Christopher Lee Simmons
A charcoal study of a vampireʼs victim, by Kat Burress. 3
Letter from the
It’s been an eventful year for White Wolf fans. We’ve watched a world end. For many of us, that world has been something of a home for the last thirteen years. Characters we’ve grown quite attached to inhabit its cities and wilderness, they travel its highways and byways. The grimy streets of the old World of Darkness are, by now, as familiar as those of our own homes. So it should come as no surprise that many fans didn’t listen as the bell tolled. They continue as they always did, despite the red star in the sky or the pounding tattoo of the war drums calling for the ﬁnal battle. That is why Ex Libris Nocturnis is dedicated to continuing support of the old World of Darkness lines for as long as there is demand for it. If you have an idea for the old World of Darkness, we’d love to hear from you! Ofﬁcially, that world is gone, but a new world has been born, rising from the ashes of the old one. We have seen the World of Darkness core book, detailing the rules of the Storytelling system, as well as the gorgeous new Vampire: The Requiem hardcover. The new World of Darkness isn’t a completely new setting. Many of the things we loved about the old game can be found skulking in the dark alleys of this new setting. But many things are different. The setting has been updated, the rules have changed, and the stiﬂing weight of the old World of Darkness has been lifted. The possibilities are endless. I am excited about the new World of Darkness in a way that I haven’t been excited about gaming in a very long time. I eagerly look forward to Werewolf: the Forsaken, thanks to the tantalizing hints given about the nature of the shifters throughout the available material. I’m ecstatic about the new Mage: the Awakening, even though it is months away. I can’t wait to see what White Wolf will do with this new world. But more importantly, I can’t wait to see what you will do. Be Well, Christopher Lee Simmons “Shadowmancer”
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Editor-in-Chief Christopher Lee Simmons Vampire Editor Ted Pertzborn Werewolf Editor Perry Hamilton Mage Editor Steve J. Larson II Wraith/Orpheus Editor J. Tuomas Harvainen Changeling/Lotus Editor Eloy Lasanta Hunter Editor Michael Caneva Demon Editor Daniel Guilkey
Art Director Kat Burress
All article submissions should be addressed to the approrpriate editor. Art submissions should be sent to art@nocturnis. net. Please read the submissions guidelines and follow them. Current Submissions Guidelines can always be found at: http://www.nocturnis.net/pages/submissions.html
Ex Libris Nocturnis Volume 1, Issue 1, October 2004. • Please direct all inquiries concerning editorial information to the appropriate editor. • Any statements made, expressed or implied in Ex Libris Nocturnis are solely those of columnists or persons being interviewed and do not represent the editorial position of the publisher, who does not accept responsibility for such statements. Artwork and content are © their respective owners, and its inclusion herein should not be considered a challenge to those copyrights.
THE EMPTY HAND
By Eloy Lasanta
The World of Darkness… The World of Secrets… The World of Things That Go Bump in the Night… There are many names for the world our characters exist in and everyone uses something different. Everyone has demons to ﬁght, personal or otherwise and it is best to always be equipped to do so. There are those in this world that perfect their minds and bodies to the point where they are safe from almost any threat out there. Well, safer than normal anyway. This article will take a look at the role of Martial Artists in the World of Darkness. Their role is important to the history of so many areas of the world, but has most of its inﬂuence coming from China. There are many forms as well, ranging from the Brazilian style, Capoeira, which focuses on seemingly wild ﬂips ad kicks, to Tiger Style Kung Fu which emphasizes strong claw attacks to cause the most pain possible to your opponent. While many of the styles have common aspects with the Fighting Style: Kung Fu presented in the World of Darkness Corebook, there are important differences that must be presented. were developed as entertainment and dancing ﬁrst and a combat method second. There is a quality in every martial art that is ritual, ceremonial and pleasant to behold and these skills are often coupled with traditional dancing and other art forms. Likewise, many of the different styles have been turned into sport. While this deﬁes the traditions of many of the more passive forms, it ﬁts right in with the more aggressive styles like Muay Thai, Tae Kwon Do, or Tiger Kung Fu. The sport style and traditional style of the martial art will often differ in execution as the sport style will have accompanying rules and regulations to follow. Many more conventional practitioners stay away from sports as it waters down the art’s awesome power and spirituality.
USE OF WEAPONS
It would be impossible to compile all of the different martial art styles into one comprehensive history. They come from different cultures and different points in time. But there are a few things that stand true for just about every martial art style out there.
While we are talking about hand-to-hand ﬁghting in this article, we cannot forget about weapons all together. Most schools will teach their students the basics of ﬁghting with weapons, be it a knife, sword, staff, or less obvious implements. There are just too many situations when a weapon would be better than your hand. Each school will teach a different style, often coming together with the hand-to-hand style, but keep in mind that your Fighting Styles Merit does not count when wielding a weapon. However, your character should still have a descent rating in Weaponry to reﬂect his training.
While many of styles are truly deadly to opponents, most martial arts were created as a way to defend one’s self from attackers. Whether it was to defeat the rival tribe in the jungles of Africa or to make sure the emperor was kept safe in China, it is all about protection. The institution of martial arts training leaked from militaries into the schools that taught the average person on the instruction of self defense, until most everyone, from soldier to shopkeepers to farmers, knew some sort of martial art and could defend themselves and their families from harm. There are many stories of self-discovery around this principal. The rogue martial artist ﬁghting against his urges to take the ﬁght to the enemy, only to die in the end for such heroic, yet stupid, actions. There are, of course, other stories which contradict the ﬁrst. Every student is taught to use his or her own judgment and see what comes from it.
Martial arts teach that the artist should focus his body and his mind together, allowing him to go beyond himself and let the soul take over. The principles of Yin and Yang are taught in Asia, of course, but meditation is a universal lesson that runs parallel to the concept. Through meditation, they can clear their minds of everything except their intended purpose, whether it be to defeat their opponent or ﬁnish their school exam, it is a truly useful skill and one that is at the heart of all martial art forms. This training in the mystical arts puts some masters of martial arts into a whole other realm of power. They have gone past the pinnacle of martial arts training and have become truly magical beings, capable of fantastic techniques. This also puts them closer on the radar of supernatural beings and usually makes them targets. Vampires hate the competition, especially when food ﬁghts back.
ENTERTAINMENT AND SPORT
There is a reason why they are called the martial arts. For centuries, masters of the various forms would perform before their betters in exhibitions against equally talented ﬁghters or simply execute katas that showed how focused they had become through their practice. There are even some forms, like Capoeira, that
While martial arts styles are generally the same from place to place, there are some schools that place speciﬁc focus on certain aspects of the style above others. For example, there are recognizable differences between Northern Black Tiger Kung Fu and Southern Black Tiger Kung Fu, as well between White Crane
Kung Fu and Tiger Crane Kung Fu. While the styles themselves are similar enough to have the same name (or close to the same name), they are taught in different areas by different masters in different schools, which makes them different. Students keep their school in high regard and most become as family. Your teacher is you father and the other students your siblings. It becomes the cornerstone of the student’s lifestyle, especially if they started young. This is how rivalries begin. If some grievous disrespect is shown to a school, its students and master will usually strike enmity against the aggressive school. Some of these rivalries have lasted for centuries, the true reason behind them lost to history, while others are settled quickly, usually by ritual combat. The grievance must be considerable to warrant something of this magnitude, but it does happen.
temperament. While some masters focus on training the mind and so are very gentle in their approach, there are others who teach with a stick at the back of the student’s head. Students must do everything the teacher asks without question or suffer grave consequences. Some students are tasked with carrying water up and down stairs all day or punching a wall for hours on end. The list of potential training tasks goes on and on. Most of the time, the student doesn’t realize that they are even being trained (the Karate Kid is a good example of this principle). No matter the training style, the way the student turns out later on in life has a direct bearing on the way they were trained. Those students trained with compassionate discipline go on to be benevolent to their villages, while those taught through self mortiﬁcation and torture tend to lose their morality and become villains in the eyes of the people.
The teachers, the sensei, the sifu, are expected to be masters in their ﬁelds. There are stories of imposters, pretending to be the foremost in their ﬁeld, only to be beaten by their little-learned students. They live the rest of their lives as jokes in their communities. True masters, of course, have nothing to fear of their reputations. They are usually either hermits, totally withdrawn from civilization (these men are commonly called hsien, which means “men of the mountain”) or are the pillars of their villages and towns, being role models for the young. They usually stray from large cities, as the environment lends itself to more aggressive behavior. Most have given their lives to the study of their art, believing totally in the forces of the universe and their place in it, totally content to exist in any way the universe sees ﬁt. It is tradition to pass along your gifts to the next generation, so no knowledge is lost. You are not a teacher without a student and you can rarely be as great as you claim if you cannot duplicate your techniques through training another. Masters are known to take up to 3 students at a time, trying their hardest to stay within this limit, except for extraordinary circumstances. While there are schools with larger classes, they don’t tend to give as detailed and personal an experience and are avoided by Masters. The question stands, then: What makes a True Master. Many would think that it comes from simply knowing a martial art form to its fullest. This is true. Some say that it comes from intense spirituality. This is true. Others speak of masters being so simply from knowing many different styles. This is true, as well. All of these ring true, because masters are expected to match these characteristics. A True Master is one that knows the secrets of the universe and teaches them only to worthy. A sinister sifu, teaching death techniques to beggars on the street, is not a true master, but an enlightened master who teaches only to students who have gone through the trials he has set forth can be called as such. In addition, martial arts masters, while being a popular staple to attach to Asia and that Far East, exist all around the world. There are masters of every style, everywhere, capable of teaching their students in the ways of their art. So while Zheng Xia of China could teach you the intricacies of White Crane Kung Fu, you could also ﬁnd Nisa Amando, master of Capoeira, in Brazil.
DUELING AND HONOR
It has been tradition for centuries upon centuries for great warriors to compete to be the best. In the martial arts community, though, there is more to the process than beating your opponent to a bloody pulp. It is a matter of honor. There are times when group combat is acceptable, but the vast majority of battles are composed of only two combatants, usually from rival schools and usually with a score to settle with one another. It is important for these martial artists to remember the rules of combat. Rules like “Never strike your opponent in the back” or “Never strike an opponent when he’s down” are two important ones. Doing one of the two above will lose the artist a mass of reputation. If no one is watching, he will usually look down upon himself, knowing the wrong he has made. The actual rules of combat do vary from region to region, however. The Storyteller should take this into consideration when running his game.
In today’s increasingly modern world, many of the old secrets have been lost. Many of the world’s great martial artists have started to come from intense training from the numerous military academies, not from a martial arts school or from the instruction of a True Master. While this is just as viable an option, access to Master Techniques are virtually null.
CHOOSING YOUR STYLE
WHICH STYLE IS BEST FOR ME?
Every master is different in their tutalege, depending on their
It is important to think about the personality of your character when deciding which martial arts form he chooses to be his ﬁeld of study. Tall, burly men are not prone to practicing White Crane Kung Fu as it lends itself more to petite persons. The same say that a paciﬁst wouldn’t choose Tiger Kung Fu as his style, as it is very aggressively violent. Choose wisely. Another tip to Storytellers would be to not do work that’s not needed. After careful consideration, many martial arts styles were skipped in the following write-ups. This is because many styles can simply use the existing rules for other ﬁghting styles. Savate, a kick boxing style from France, would fall under Fighting Style: Boxing. Karate or Tae Kwon Do would simply fall under simple
Fighting Style: Kung Fu. You should really do your homework before determining if that style really needs its own write up. Most will either use the two in the World of Darkness Corebook or can be duplicated by any of the write-ups in this article.
After mastering a style of martial arts, many students go on to learn other forms. This is encouraged by most teachers, as it shows the students commitment to their martial studies. But there are a few things that need to be remembered when practicing two separate styles. Experience costs: The cost for the learning any style after your ﬁrst is x3, instead of x2. Only the style that the character has deemed his Primary style is x2. The Experience cost for levels that duplicate a skill from the style you already know, are reduced by 1 Experience point. The reason behind this is that they have to relearn another complete style, with its own movements and teachings, trying to forget most of what they learned before. Teachers keep the students in line, though, saying things like “This is Tiger Kung Fu, not that whiny Praying Mantis, stop going to that!” So, if you already know Iron Skin from one martial art form, you will still need to learn it with the other, but with a slightly reduced cost since you know the foundations of it already. For example: Learning Iron Skin in your second form would normally cost 6 Experience points. But if the character already knew it from their primary style, it would only cost 5 Experience points. This rule ﬂows into #2. You cannot use two styles at once: A master of Tiger Kung Fu and Hapkido cannot use the two styles simultaneously. At the beginning of combat, the character must choose which style he wishes to use. If the character wishes to change styles mid-combat, they can. However, they cannot switch back to their original style for at least 2 rounds. Any bonuses gained from Tiger Style would be lost when the character switches to Hapkido and vice versa (this includes bonuses gained from Iron Skin).
teach these to some students, who deem themselves worthy. Meditative Mind: This is deﬁnitely suggested for any martial artist who wants to learn the more meditative Master Techniques. It helps them focus their mind, allowing them to execute their techniques much more steadier. Unseen Sense: Many martial artist, using meditation to wake up their mind, become open to things they’ve never seen before. This merit is the reason why only those who are loyal to their studies should embark on the road of becoming a Martial Arts master.
Fast Reﬂexes or Fleet of Foot: Either of these two merits can be useful in portraying quickness training that a character may have been put through. Quick Healing: Learning the proper breathing and meditation exercises can help a character heal much quicker than normal. While many are simply born with this or develop it on their own, most need to be taught by a master. Strong Back: usually the result of intense strength training. Strong Lungs: while not typical in most schools, many secluded masters teach their students through submersion to help them with their breathing exercises and to protect them from toxins in the air. Toxin Resistant: Many schools, particularly those of Snake Kung Fu, help their students build up a resistance, and sometimes immunity, to venoms of all kinds.
MERITS AND THEIR APPLICATIONS
While interpreting the use of each merit is quite elementary, listed here are a few that are recommended above others. They are listed along with suggestions to how the character could have learned them, as well as ways they can affect a martial artist directly. There aren’t any newly created merits below, simply explanation on how to use existing ones. In my own humble opinion, there isn’t any need to create new martial arts merits, beyond the increased variety of styles presented below. However, Storytellers could always make up a few more to reﬂect useful merits for their martial artists. For example: a Merit which duplicates Fighting Finesse, could also work for those martial artist who use their speed instead of strength to strike at their opponents.
Fame: For the purposes of a martial arts game, Fame can be replaced with Reputation. Word travels fast of rebellious students using forbidden death moves or of the bravest warriors ever to grace the village. This can work for you and against you, of course. If you’ve made up a reputation for yourself to be a slayer of demons, there may just be a village in need of such services. Mentor: In the martial arts community, this merit is your best friend. Most students can recite, and are trained to recite on command, their entire lineage of teachers and pupils. It usually comes out as, “I am Zheng Xia, the student of Choo Xue-Xue, the student of Li Xi-Xao, the student of…”, until it gets to the founder of either that martial arts style or the founder of that particular school. You represent yourself as well as your master in all of your actions. All martial artists must have at least 2 dots in Mentor before learning any Master Techniques, as the student always needs someone to teach them. Storytellers keep in mind that a Level 2 Mentor may only have one Master Technique to teach, where a Level 5 Mentor may have plenty more.
STORY HOOKS AND IDEAS
Danger Sense: Through their situational training, martial artists learn to work more off of instinct than anything, which makes them very prone to having this merit. They just feel that something just isn’t right. Holistic Awareness: Many martial artists know ancient holistic remedies that have been lost throughout history. They will
There are so many possibilities for playing a martial arts game. Below, are some story ideas and plot hooks that may make it easy when starting out. Quest for the master: Not every master lives within a simple town or village and is easy to ﬁnd. This type of quest begins with the student’s present master letting him know that he cannot teach him any more. The character must then, with precious clues and koans from his now former master, seek out this new master to continue their training.
Quest for the artifact: Done to death in many games, yes. But in a martial arts game, it can be most gratifying. Say that a master swordsman’s blade turns up missing and he has been slain. This blade has the blood of many on it and anyone who wields it becomes nigh invincible. How can the characters defeat an enemy that wields a legendary blade? This scenario can work with non-weaponry too. Quest for the spirit: The character may be faced with many trials throughout his training. The character’s own mind it not the least dangerous of them all. The martial artist may be called upon by his ancestors for a quest or he may simply travel into his own (or someone else’s) consciousness in search of answers to questions of the universe. Quest for Revenge: What if someone important to the character has been slain? This can be a true testament to the character of the martial artist. Does he simply calm himself, keeping to his normal routine, mourning in silence? Does he take to the streets, ready to bring the culprit to justice? Does he go on a blood rampage, waiting for his chance to strike and kill his enemy to avenge the wrong? The choice belongs to the character. Quest for Rivalry: True acts of atrocity happen in the wars between rival schools. There are several cases in history that these feuds have survived to the present day, especially prevalent in Asian countries, as they hold honor and family above all else. What school do the characters belong to and what are they willing to do for the honor of their school. Quest for a Role: The other scenarios play heavily on the thought that your entire group is composed of martial artists. But, what if your martial artist is the only one in the group? Many would think he would be “just the muscle”, but this could not be farther from the truth. Most martial artists excel in stealth and investigation, as well as being a mediator for disputes. It is important to emphasize, once again, that martial arts is about toning the body and mind, not just the body.
does count for their action and their opponent’s action. Meaning the results of any grapples need to be settled in the following round. Duck and Weave (•••) Deceptive Form (••••): Being hard to read is important to the Praying Mantis. Per Defensive Action, except that it is +3 Defense and –3 penalty to their attack. Whirlwind Assault (•••••): per Whirlwind Strike, but can make an extra attack for every dot of Dexterity above 1 (instead of 2).
MONKEY KUNG FU (CHINESE)
Now that you are ready to play, here are the breakdowns of the different styles of martial arts. Once again, some styles may not need their own rules, being represented just ﬁne by those in the World of Darkness Corebook or on the following list. But whatever you choose to do, have fun with it.
Prerequisites: Strength ••, Dexterity •••, Stamina •••, Brawl ••, Athletics ••• Monkey Kung Fu was created by Wang Lang, who also created Praying Mantis Kung Fu. The way the monkeys advanced, retreated, dashed, jumped and turned, proved to be more alive than all the big steps and broad stances used in all the other martial arts of that time. From these observations, he designed the “Monkey steps” which are characterized by narrow paces and quick legs. This would enable better speed and spirit in moving. It emphasizes jumps, ﬂips, quick attacks, and lots of acrobatic dodging. Quick Recovery (•): if ever the victim of a Knock-down action, the martial artist can get back up without it costing him his next action, but he receives a -3 penalty to initiative for the next 3 rounds of combat. Acrobatic Dodge (••): Due to their tumbling training, the character can add his Athletics dots to his Defense for the use of Dodging, instead of doubling their Defense. Defensive Attack (•••) Flipping Attack (••••): the martial artist can make a forward ﬂipping attack, adding +1 to his dice pool or can make a backwards ﬂipping attack with –1 dice pool, but makes a gap between the two combatants. The Character cannot make two ﬂipping attacks in consecutive turns. Knock Down Attacks (•••••): most of the Monkey Kung Fu attacks are low strikes at the legs and lower region of the opponent’s body. If an attack roll comes up with at least 3 successes on a strike, the opponent is must resist a Knock down effect at a -3 dice penalty.
PRAYING MANTIS KUNG FU (CHINESE)
SNAKE KUNG FU (CHINESE)
Prerequisites: Strength ••, Dexterity •••, Stamina ••, Brawl ••• The Praying Mantis Style was developed by Master Wang Lang. He lived during the Ming Dynasty 1368-1644 AD. One day the Wang Lang observed a battle between a praying mantis and a larger insect. The monk was amazed at the skill of the smaller insect, using its long limbs and small body to defeat a much larger enemy. He incorporated the moves of the praying mantis into his style of Shaolin Kung Fu and the Praying Mantis style was born. This style uses the hands and feet to develop great speed and agility to defeat an opponent. Focused Attack (•) Defensive Grapple (••): Instead of using their Defense score to lower the attacker’s dice pool, the martial artist can opt to also roll their Strength + Brawl to grapple as a defensive action. They must make equal to or more successes than their attack. This
Prerequisites: Strength ••, Dexterity •••, Stamina ••, Brawl ••• There is no ONE style of Snake Kung Fu. Instead there are several versions of it, adapting to different species of snake, such as cobra, python or rattlesnake. While these styles may differ slightly, they are condensed into one style below, for convenience. Emphasizing light, fast, highly mobile movements and quick penetrating strikes to vital points can take out an attacker regardless of his size. Snake style does not directly oppose his adversary’s strength. Instead he relies on deception and indirection to get the upper hand, utilizing numerous feints against his opponents. You need to go in with a ﬂuid manner. Many students also build up a tolerance to poisons during their training. Focused Attack (•) Duck and Weave (••) Coil and Strike (•••): the methods of the snake are to wait
for just the right time to strike. The martial artist may hold his action for one round to gain a +4 dice bonus to their strike in the following round. The character cannot make a Dodge action while he is “coiled”, but gains a +1 bonus to his natural Defense score for that round. Likewise, during the round of the Strike, he suffers a –2 to his defense score. Pressure Points (••••): Through intense training in pressure points, the character can increase the amount of damage dealt with a single attack. All brawl attacks the martial artist makes, except for grappling, gains a +1 bonus to their dice pool. Multiple Fang Attack (•••••): per Whirlwind Strike, but each strike can be directed to a different opponent if within close range.
Dodging, instead of doubling their Defense. Pressure Points (•••): Through intense training in pressure points, the character can increase the amount of damage dealt with a single attack. All brawl attacks the martial artist makes, except for grappling, gains a +1 bonus to their dice pool. Focused Fury (••••): intense attention to pressure points is needed to be a master of White Crane. The penalty to strike “Speciﬁc Targets” is reduced by 2. This bonus replaces Focused Attack. Whirlwind Strike (•••••)
TIGER KUNG FU (CHINESE)
Prerequisites: Strength •••, Dexterity ••, Stamina ••, Brawl ••••, Strong Back Also known as “The Emperor’s Art,” White Tiger Kung Fu has been passed down through the Doo family for nearly 400 years. The Doo family served as the right hand to Chinese emperors, and their security force protected the emperor during feudal times. They were responsible for both the emperor’s physical safety as well as his health and well-being. This style is an offensive style that focuses on claw attacks and palm strike above all else. Sharpened Claws (•): Through intense training in conditioning their hands, the Tiger can increase the amount of damage death with a single blow. All brawl attacks the martial artist makes, except for Grappling, gain a +1 bonus to their dice pool. Iron Skin (••) Double Claw (•••): As per Combination Blows. Lethal Strike (••••) Painful Strikes (•••••): For each successful strike the Tiger strikes his target with, the opponent suffers a –1 penalty to all combat dice pools from the sheer pain of the attacks. These attacks are responsible for many of the more prominent scars gained in battle. This effect is cumulative with wound penalties and last for the next full day.
WHITE CRANE KUNG FU (CHINESE)
Prerequisites: Strength ••, Dexterity •••, Stamina ••, Brawl ••• White Crane Kung Fu is a rare system of self-defense which combines foot techniques, hand techniques and chin na (seizing and controlling). Although rare in the western world, the art is a famous ﬁghting style in Southeast Asia. The style is renowned for its rapid hand techniques; its strikes executed in conjunction with grabs and its devastatingly effective pressure point attacks. The founder of the style, Fang Chi-Niang, was a petite woman who lived in violent times. Most men were comparatively larger and more physically powerful than her. Fang Chi-Niang reasoned that certain vulnerable areas of the body could not be hardened or conditioned to resist injury. Powerful strikes to the temples, eyes, throat, solar plexus, ﬂoating ribs, kidneys, groin, knees, etc., could successfully debilitate even the most determined attacker. Consequently, attacking pressure point targets with specialized hand strikes became a trademark of White Crane. Focused Attack (•) Acrobatic Dodge (••): Due to their tumbling training, the character can add his Athletics dots to his Defense for the use of
Prerequisites: Strength ••, Dexterity ••, Stamina ••, Brawl ••• Jujitsu, or gentle technique, includes not only limb twisting and joint locking, but also a vast arsenal of techniques including attacking vital points, choking, and kicking. American schools such as Danzan Ryu, based out of the Hawaiian islands, teach variations of this style. Jujitsu is considered to have originated in the 15th century as a grappling martial art for samourai. The most obvious aspect of Jujitsu is that it is not reliant on muscular skill and strength. Rather, it relies on balance, speed and leverage. It is because these factors are so important, that Jujitsu tends to “level the playing ﬁeld” regardless of opponent size. Jujitsu is open equally to men and women and is a far more devastating art than its modern sporting form known as Judo. Throw (•): As “Grapple-Damage Opponent”, but also throws opponent 2 yards per success. Hands-On (••): The character learns early on how to best grapple their opponent, as well as getting free from grappling, and gains a +1 dice bonus for any and all Grapple related rolls. Pressure Points (•••): Through intense training in pressure points, the character can increase the amount of damage dealt with a single attack. All brawl attacks the martial artist makes, except for grappling, gains a +1 bonus to their dice pool. Whirlwind Strike (••••) Soto Makikomi (•••••): Masters of Jujitsu learn to subdue their opponent quickly. After spending a Willpower Point, the character may automatically use an Overpowering Maneuver on his opponent upon a successful Grapple attack. Drawback: character cannot use his defense against any attack in the same round he used this technique.
Prerequisites: Strength ••, Dexterity •••, Stamina ••, Brawl •• Ninjitsu is known by many as the art of stealth or the art of
the shadow. Much of the training in the Ninjitsu school centers on close range combat and the art of invisibility and espionage. Some of the special skills learned by Ninjitsu practitioners have historically given the ninja a reputation of possessing magical powers. Climbing walls and swimming while clad in armor are two skills that have earned this reputation. Other skills taught to the ninja included map making, disguise, silent entry and escape, leaping, high endurance, sabotage, and the use of available surroundings as weapons. The history of the ninja is shrouded in secrecy. Ninja often hold the incorrect reputation of having all been assassins. This was not the case. Though no single origin can be proven, most common beliefs surrounding the origins of Ninjitsu attribute it as a ﬁghting method taught within mountain families as a means for self-defense during feudal Japan against territory claimants. In order to defend themselves against powerful foes such as the samourai class of warriors who had strength in numbers, the ninja developed stealth capabilities and unorthodox combat techniques. The ﬁghting tactics employed by the ninja were often seen as cowardly by the samourai. However, they were often very effective. Focused Attack (•) Adaptive (••): Adds +1 to Defense Score; The character is able to adapt to any surroundings and use this to defeat his foes. Master of Stealth (•••): Ninja receive +1 die bonus to all Stealth rolls. Additionally, victims of a Surprise attack from a practitioner of Ninjitsu suffer a –2 penalty to their Wits + Composure roll. Whirlwind Strike (••••) Lethal Strike (•••••)
age only. This bonus replaces Iron Skin. Lethal Strike (•••••)
Prerequisites: Strength •••, Dexterity ••, Stamina •••, Brawl •• Sumo is one of the most popular professional sports in Japan and the image of two of these huge wrestlers grappling is one of the most famous images of Japan abroad. The colorful traditional costumes worn by the rikishi (wrestlers) and gyoji (referees), the distinctive oichomage (gingko leaf knot) hairstyle and the various rituals give the sport the exotic air that appeals to many foreigners. Over the years, several foreign hopefuls have tried to break into the ranks of sumo but few have succeeded. There are 70 ways of beating an opponent listed by the Sumo Association, including such common ones as uwatenage (over arm throw) and shitatenage (underarm throw), but few methods of attack are banned. Wrestlers may trip or slap with an open hand, but eye gouging, hair pulling, and hitting with a closed ﬁst are not permitted and will result in forfeiting the bout. Out of the Ring (•): The Sumo tradition teaches wrestling as its ﬁrst skill. Sumo get a +2 dice bonus for any and all offensive Grapple related rolls. Iron Skin (••) Big Chop (•••): as per Body Blow. But, the forceful attack of the Sumo warrior can be used to stun their opponent as long as he rolls at least 4 successes. If the rikishi took Merit: Giant at character creation, then they need only 3 successes. Drawback: character cannot use his defense against any attack in the same round he used this technique. Invincible Skin (••••): adds +2 armor against bashing dam-
Prerequisites: Strength ••, Dexterity •••, Stamina ••, Brawl ••• Primarily a defensive style, Aikido focuses on subduing their opponents by using their own momentum against them. A character with this style has been trained in various throws and grapples, making him very adept at using his opponent’s strength to beneﬁt his attacks, as well as using the surrounding area to aid him in combat. These are ﬁerce warriors, yet their focus is on self-defense as opposed to outright offense. Throw (•): As “Grapple-Damage Opponent”, but also throws opponent 2 yards per success. Defensive Grapple (••): Instead of using their Defense score to lower the attacker’s dice pool, the martial artist can opt to also roll their Strength + Brawl to grapple as a defensive action. They must make equal to or more successes than their attack. This does count for their action and their opponent’s action. Meaning the results of any grapples need to be settled in the following round. Defensive Attack (•••) Adaptive (••••): Adds +1 to Defense Score; the character is able to adapt to any surroundings and use this to defeat his foes. Whirlwind Defense (•••••): The master of Aikido can utilize his gifts to take on multiple opponents, using their own strength against them. The character takes a defensive stance and rolls his Strength + Brawl. Any Brawl or Weaponry attack toward the character that does not exceed the character’s successes on his roll, is ﬂipped, tripped or thrown 2 yards for each success the attacker rolled. They also take their own successes in damage, minus 2.
Prerequisites: Strength ••, Dexterity ••, Stamina ••, Brawl ••• Hapkido Martial Arts is a complete art of self-defense. It combines aspects of Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Ju-Jitsu and Aikido. Hapkido has a powerful arsenal of spinning kicks, thrusts and sweeps combined with hard and soft ﬁst attacks and defenses. As well as the use of kicks and punches, Hapkido uses nerve and pressure point attacks, wrist and joint locks, and many twisting and throwing techniques. Focused Attack (•) Pressure Points (••): Through intense training in pressure points, the character can increase the amount of damage dealt with a single attack. All brawl attacks the martial artist makes, except for grappling, gains a +1 bonus to their dice pool. Combination Blows (•••) Joint Lock (••••): The character may automatically make another roll to “Grapple: Immobilize” upon getting equal to or exceeding the target’s size on a Grapple attack. Lethal Strike (•••••)
MUAY THAI (THAILAND)
Prerequisites: Strength •••, Dexterity ••, Stamina •••, Brawl ••• Thai boxing, or Muay Thai, is a traditional art of self-defense
of the Thais. It is different from international boxing in that in the Thai style of unarmed ﬁghting, feet, elbows and knees are used as well as ﬁsts. Thus, it resembles more to a real free-for-all ﬁght. A Thai boxing match lasts only ﬁve rounds of three minutes each, with a two-minute rest between rounds. Body Blow (•) Defensive Grapple (••): Instead of using their Defense score to lower the attacker’s dice pool, the martial artist can opt to also roll their Strength + Brawl to grapple as a defensive action. They must make equal to or more successes than their attack. This does count for their action and their opponent’s action. Meaning the results of any grapples need to be settled in the following round. Extra Weapons (•••): Through intense training in conditioning their legs and hands, as well as their knees and elbows, the character can increase the amount of damage death with a single attack. All brawl attacks the martial artist makes, except for Grappling, gain a +1 bonus to their dice pool. Whirlwind Strike (••••) Brutal Blow (•••••)
nent in the same turn, this beneﬁt is lost. Acrobatic Dodge (••): Due to their intense acrobatic training, the character can add his Athletics dots to his Defense for the use of Dodging, instead of doubling their Defense. Trips and Sweeps (•••): by utilizing low attacks, the character can cause a knock down effect. If the character scores equal to or exceeds the targets size, the opponent must resist a knock down effect. Flipping Attack (••••): the martial artist can make a forward ﬂipping attack, adding +1 to his dice pool or can make a backwards ﬂipping attack with –1 dice pool, but makes a gap between the two combatants. The Character cannot make two ﬂipping attacks in consecutive turns. Spinning Kick Strikes (•••••): per Whirlwind Attack, but each strike can be directed to a different opponent if within close enough range.
JEET KUN DO (UNITED STATES)
KRAV MAGA (ISRAEL)
Prerequisites: Strength •••, Dexterity ••, Stamina ••, Brawl ••• Krav Maga is the ofﬁcial self-defense system of the Israeli Defense Forces, and has been taught to hundreds of law enforcement agencies and thousands of civilians in the United States. Krav Maga is a simple, effective self-defense system that emphasizes instinctive movements, practical techniques, and realistic training scenarios. Armor Training (•): They have had extension training on combat wearing all armor types. The Defense penalty for wearing different types of armor is reduced for students of Krav Maga. Hands-On (••): The character learns early on about the human body and how to best grapple their opponent, as well as getting free from grappling, and gains a +1 dice bonus for any and all Grapple related rolls. Combination Blows (•••) Quick Disarm (••••): The character may automatically “Disarm” his opponent upon getting equal to or exceeding the target’s size on a Grapple attack. Lethal Strike (•••••)
Prerequisites: Strength ••, Dexterity •••, Stamina ••, Brawl ••, Athletics •• Capoeira was created by various slaves brought over from Africa, and it’s a part of their culture. It is half a ﬁghting style and half a dance - most of its moves are ﬂuid, many rely on acrobatic stunts. It depends more of agility than of raw strength - the stereotypical Capoeira ﬁghter is small and fast, being able to hit and ﬂow away from the opponent’s reach. This style uses only kicking attacks, while the arms are used only as supports for their swift maneuvers. It’s usually fought to music, using a special instrument called a “berimbau” that is played by the watchers, who also sing while two ﬁghters battle each other. Defense of the Little Man (•): when ﬁghting against someone with Dexterity equal or less than the ﬁghter’s own, he gets a +1 modiﬁer to his Defense. If attacked by more than one oppo-
Prerequisites: Strength •••, Dexterity •••, Stamina ••, Brawl •• The ﬁrst truly American martial art form, Jeet Kun Do is the style founded by the legendary Bruce Lee. Through the combining of several different art forms and theory on the body and its connection to the ancient elements, Jeet Kun Do has become one of the most controversial, yet effective styles in existence. It teaches that martial arts doesn’t need katas and stances, you just need to be able to defend yourself to the best of your abilities. Bruce’s Strength (•): Through intense training and conditioning on weak points, the character can increase the amount of damage death with a single blow. All brawl attacks the martial artist makes, except for Grappling, gain a +1 bonus to their dice pool. Like Water (••): per Duck and Weave. The ﬂuid movements of Jeet Kun Do are much adaptive to and harder to hit. One-Inch Punch (•••): When at close range, the character can strike a target so hard that he will be propelled backward. For every point of damage done, the target is knocked back 3 yards. If more than the opponent’s size, they are also knocked down. If used against objects, it subtracts one from the item’s durability. Drawback: character cannot use his defense against any attack in the same round he used this technique. Lethal Strike (••••) Multiple Opponent Combat (•••••): per Whirlwind Strike, but each strike can be directed to a different opponent if within close range.
So, after you have mastered a martial art, what else is there to do? Many students of combat simply try their hand at another style, but there are those that go beyond this point of body and mind. There are many lost secrets and ancient techniques that are not taught to the average student. Below are a few of those techniques. However, these are not abilities that can be taught without the proper teacher. Some students work diligently for a master for years to learn a single one. They are not cheap either conceptually or when referring to the cost of Experience points. Storytellers should make it hard to learn lost techniques, since only a precious few really wield their awesome power in this modern
and cynical world. These Techniques sometimes mimic powers that supernatural beings already possess. Although, even with years upon years of training, a martial artist still cannot replicate their level of power. As such, they cannot replicate any level 5 effects and techniques that would duplicate Level 4 effects would cost an arm and a leg in Experience points. Note on Prerequisites: The character must have mastered at least 1 style of martial art and at least 4 dots in Brawl before even considering achieving this level of comprehension. Storytellers may want to consider making some techniques require a particular style as well, so not everyone can learn everything. A Tiger Style martial artist isn’t going to learn the same types of Master Techniques as a master of Capoeira, after all.
then also do 2 levels of Bashing with the other 2. He could not lower the Dexterity to 0 unless he had 6 successes (2 to bring it to 1, then 4 to bring it to 0), but would do no damage. The loss of Dexterity from his attack heals back as if it was lethal damage, meaning it would take a mortal 2 days to gain back each dot lost, but a vampire would only need to expend a Blood Point per point lost. ST NOTE: Other techniques exist that can take away the Strength or Stamina of the target as well. They are harder to come by, costing 40 experience points, but would work with the same mechanics.
ART OF INVISIBILITY
SWIFT EYE GOUGE TECHNIQUE
Cost: 35 experience points Effect: This ability is similar to uses of Obfuscate, clouding the minds of those they wish not to see them. The martial artist must spend a Willpower point and make a Contested Wits + Stealth roll against the target’s Wits + Composure. The target number is generally double the target’s Willpower, but the Storyteller can apply penalties or bonuses based on the situation. If effecting a group, use the highest Wits + Composure of the group. If the roll succeeds, the martial artist cannot be seen by the target(s). The martial artist cannot act in any aggressive way toward anything (not even the wall or a door) while using this technique or it instantly broken. Auspex can see through this normally and vampires receive a +2 dice bonus to resist the Art of Invisibility.
Cost: 15 experience points, 20 experience points for rebuy Effect: With a quick motion, the martial art can remove object from hands, pockets, etc. It gets its name from its most sinister use. A master can even use this lighting fast action to remove someone’s eye before they even have a chance to counter. After spending a Willpower point, penalties to actions involving “Speciﬁed Targets” is reduced by 2 (in addition to any reductions gained from Fighting Styles) and adds +5 Initiative allowing for the very quick motion of snatching the “object”. Martial artists with a stake are a force to be reckoned with. This technique can be bought a second time, which reduces the penalty by 3, instead of by 2 and gives an additional +3 initiative bonus.
FLAME AND ICE TRAINING
Cost: 30 experience points Effect: Masters of the Chi Strike often hold life and death their hands. They have the power to force their yang chi into their limb to deliver startling and deadly blows to their opponents. By spending one willpower point, the character can add 6 dice instead of 3 to their next attack. An extra bonus to this ability: for every 2 points of Bashing damage, the martial artist may instead do one Lethal point of damage to the target. For example: For example: the artial artist has Strength 3 and Brawl 4 and so has 13 dice to roll with the additional 6 dice. He rolls 1, 2, 4, 4, 5, 7, 7, 7, 8, 8, 8, 9, 9 – 8 successes. He can then opt to do 8 levels of bashing or 4 levels of Lethal or 4 levels of Bashing and 2 Lethal or any combination; the player’s choice.
Cost: 15 experience points Effect: From intense training, the martial artist becomes very resistant to the effects of adverse weather. The character can survive for a number of hours per dot of Stamina before feeling any adverse effects. As an extra note, when exposed to ﬁre or cold damage, they can resist one point of damage on a successful Stamina roll. Character must have Iron Skin. Characters that are embraced into the Requiem after already knowing this technique cannot beneﬁt from the reduced ﬁre damage, since the weakness is supernatural in origin.
CRIPPLING STRIKE AMENTI
Cost: 30 experience points Effect: A skilled combatant along the right path will come across a master that knows this lost art. It is a punch that debilitates the target, making it hard for them to even move. After spending one Willpower point, the martial artist will make a normal Strength + Brawl roll at a –3 penalty. Upon hitting, every 2 success can subtract one of the target’s points of Dexterity instead of doing damage to a minimum of one. The dexterity can be lowered to 0, but requires 4 successes. Example: the martial artist has Strength 4 and Brawl 5 and so has 6 dice to roll, after applying the –3 penalty. He rolls 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 8, 9 – 4 successes on a target with 2 Dexterity. The character could lower the target’s Dexterity to 1 for two of the successes and
Cost: 12 experience points, 18 experrience points for rebuy Effect: Some martial artists are masters of ﬂexibility, using this to their advantage during battle, for escaping, etc. The character can dislocate bones and contort in impossible ways. His adds 3 dice to any action that being ﬂexible would be beneﬁcial, without the use of a Willpower point. This technique can be bought a second time to double the dice bonus. Examples: getting freed from cuffs, rope or getting free from a grapple.
FORGETFUL MIND PRANA
Cost: 30 experience points Effect: There are very few masters in the world who know this lost technique, even those that use to know it, have forgotten it after confrontations with their enemies. Using this ability on a victim, the martial artist can remove the thoughts and memeories from his mind or create new ones through the use pressure points to the brain. For all intents and purposes, this duplicates level 3 Dominate, Forgetful Mind, including the rules for remember-
ing lost memories. A Extended Wits + Persuasion – victim’s Resolve. Bonuses can be gained if the victim is fully restrained. An Exceptional success means the victim accepts the new memories without thought.
penalty (for a total –5 penalty). This technique can be bought a second time, which removes the dice penalty.
GRACEFUL SWAN TECHNIQUE
Cost: 15 experience points, 20 experience points for rebuys Effect: After spending 1 Willpower point to activate this techinue for the scene, the character becomes light as a feather, being able to walk on walls and jump incredible lengths. This ability adds 2 dice to all athletics actions, such as climbing, jumping, etc and lets the character ignore 1 point of damage from falling. It can be purchased up to 3 times, for a total of 6 additional dice and 3 avoided levels of damage from falling. Masters of this technique can even appear to be in ﬂight, even though its just really long jumps with enough successes. Gravity still effects them, however. Walking on walls or balancing on tree branches are done by rolling Dexterity + Athletics at a –2 penalty, while walking on the ceiling is a –5. They can only stay on the surface unmoving for up to a number turns equal to their dots in Dexterity, before falling again. If the successes accumulate an Exceptional Success, the amount of turns is doubled.
Cost: 20 experience points, 30 experience points for rebuy Effect: The character’s body becomes stronger and it is easier to resist damage. The character gets one extra health point and can resist 1 additional point of bashing damage. Character must have Iron Skin. This technique can only be bought twice.
Cost: 20 experience points Effect: There are certain ways of defeating your opponent; the least of them is incapaciting them. By spending a Willpower point and making a successful Strength + Brawl roll at a –3 penalty, the martial artist can paralyze their target for a number of turns equal to their dots in Strength, along with dealing 1 point of Lethal damage. An Exceptional success doubles the duration and raises the damage to 2 lethal. Vampires only suffer half of the effects (rounded down), so if the attacker had 3 Strength, a vampire would only be paralyzed for 1 turn, instead of 3. Damage done to a vampire with is technique deals bashing not lethal.
INTANGIBLE STRIKE MEDITATION
Cost: 18 experience points Effect: The martial artist, with enough training, can learn to strike through even the toughest armor. If the character spends a Willpower point before attacking, he can make a strike that passes through a number of points of Armor as he has dots in Wits. For example: a martial artist with 3 Wits can ignore 3 points of armor protection. Note: this even ignores levels of armor gained from martial art training (such as Iron Skin or Ox-Body Technique).
POISON HAND TECHNIQUE
Cost: 50 experience points Effect: Whether called the Five-Finger-Method Strike or the Vemon-Heart Technique or the Double-Temple Kick or whatever, this is an ultimate attack that a martial artist can learn: the ability to kill someone with only a single strike. The character must spend a Willpower dot, then make a successful strike that equals or exceeds the target’s size. If the character succeeds in this attack, the opponent dies as if all by lethal damage, killing a mortal. A vampire subject to this attack, goes into torpor. If the attack does not accumulate the character’s size in successes, the attack deals damage per normal and the character still loses their Willpower dot. This reﬂects how killing strikes require exact precision that must be done exactly right. Regaining their lost Willpower dot costs 12 experience points. Note: This attack ignores any additional health points earned from supernatural powers or any gained from enhanced stamina.
Cost: 25 experience points Effect: Often seen as the opposite of Chi Strike, as it is forcing Yin Chi into your strike. The character must spend 1 Willpower on this attack. If the attack misses, then the Willpower is wasted. If hit, the victim then feels the poison course through his body, taking 1 Lethal damage in addition to any bashing done on the attack. They will continue receiving 1 automatic lethal damage each hour each dot of Strength the attack has from the mystic poison coursing through their veins. For example: the artial artist has Strength 3 and Brawl 4 and so has 7 dice to roll. He rolls 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 8, 9 – 4 successes. The target would receive 4 Bashing damage and 1 lethal damage at this time, then would take 1 additional Lethal damage per hour for the next 3 hours (the attacker’s Strength). This technique can be purchased up to 3 times, but only adds +1 to the lethal damage taken each hour. The attacker’s strength would need to be raised for the effect to last longer. Vampires will feel only half the effects of this technique (rounded down), but take full damage. Character must have Focused Attack.
SILENCE OF WIND
LONG DISTANCE PUNCH
Cost: 20 experience points, 25 experience points for rebuy Effect: This ability allows the character to attack a target from a distance. The character must spend a Willpower point and roll Dexterity + Brawl with a –3 dice penalty. The strike can be performed from a max distance of the character’s Strength + Brawl in yards, but can double this distance by taking an additional –2
Cost: 20 experience points Effect: This technique is used in styles that promote skill and stealth above brute strength and power. By spending one Willpower point and making a successful Dexterity + Stealth roll, the sounds of the character’s movements are totally cloaked. Not only this, but any inanimate objects he may come in contact with will feel the effects as well. If he jumps into water, his splash is totally silent. If he knocks over a picture, it falls to the ground without a sound. Any animate being or creature that he touches during this effect, is able to hear him without a problem. Hence, if he goes into combat, his opponent will have no problem hearing him. If the successes accumulate an Exceptional Success, the martial artist receives +3 dice to any Stealth rolls for the rest of the scene. Vampires with Auspex can make a Contest Wits +
Composure roll to hear through their mystic protection.
SPLIT ESSENCE MEDITATION
Cost: 45 experience points Effect: Asian myths and legends teach that the human spirit is composed of the Hun, the intelligent and spiritual side, and the P’o, the beastial and physical side. Practitioners of this techinque have also found this to be true. The character must spend 2 Willpower points and make a successful Meditation roll, at a –3 dice penalty. If the roll succeeds, his entire being is split into two different beings. One of these beings is the character’s Hun, which holds all his intelligence and wisdom. The Hun receives +2 dice all mental actions, but cannot enter physical combat, only mental. The P’o, the bestial side, gains +2 dice to all physcial actions (including combat). His Defense also gains a +1 bonus, but he loses his ability to think logically, even how to speak. They can stay separated for a number of hours as the initial roll garnered and can be any distance away from each other. This ability is used to multitasking. Think of a scene where you are trying to pick a lock and a gang of guards come and try to stop you. If you could do both, wouldn’t you? Both sides have the character split its health points, but the Hun will always have 2. So, if your character had 6 health points, then your Hun would have 2 and your P’o would have 4. If your character had 8 helth points, then your Hun would have 2 and your P’o would have 6. But if one of the side dies, the ability ends as the two halves are thrown back together; the character loses one Willpower dot and is knocked unconscious. The character must make an Extended Stamina roll with a target number of 30, each roll constituting an hour of being unconscious. If the character is ever embraced, the P’o becomes the beast and will attack anyone around it, even the Hun. So Kindred usually stay away from this ability for fear of their own unlives. Regaining their lost Willpower dot costs12 experience points. Note: this technique may be a little too much for some Storytellers, but it depends on just how “fantastic” you want your story to be. Also notice that it is the most expensive of the Master Techniques, which reﬂects how powerful it really is.
replenished with a successful roll; This can only be attempted once a week. They are also able to fend off degeneration easier with this specialized meditation, gaining a +3 to their roll (this bonus replaces the normal +1 bonus for meditation). This is espcially good for assassins and accidental killers, helping to put all their thoughts into perspective, making it easier to get through life.
SURGE OF LIFE MEDIATION
Cost: 40 experience points Effect: This technique allows some martial art masters to defeat their worst enemy: mortality. Through this meditation, their life can be slowed down, explaining how some masters are over 100 years old. On a successful Mediation roll at a –2 dice penalty, the character can slow one year of his aging to the number of years per success gained. The character must also spend a Willpower dot for the effects to work. For Example: Sifu Zheng rolls 5 successes on his Surge of Life Mediation roll, which means that it will take him 5 years to age one year, but he will have to spend a Willpower dot. At the end of the 5 years, he may roll again. The ﬁrst 5 times the character performs this technique, it counts for one year of his life, as above. Then for 2 years for the next 5 times. Then 3 years for the next 5 times. Until the magic has no more effect, as the number of years outweighs the character’s dice pool. Regaining their lost Willpower dot costs12 experience points.
STABLE MIND PRANA
Cost: 20 experience points Effect: The mind is a fragile thing and many martial artists experience things they never wanted to. With a successful Meditation roll, the character can stablize their thoughts. For each success, they are free from nightmares for one night. Also, the character has one Willpower point (2 on an Exceptional success)
Cost: 30 experience points Effect: This attack is often unexpected and very much feared among the martial arts community. After one round of contemplation (meaning one round of no attacking, but also no Dodge), the martial artist can launch a critical strike at his target, one that will knock him out for sure. The strike hits certain pressure points, but does no damage on the ﬁrst hit (the character must still roll to hit). The strike will do 1 point the second round, then 2 points of damage the third round and 3 points the fourth and so on, until the target collapses. This is all bashing damage. This damage is continual, not stopping until the victim falls unconscious. So any supernatural beings are still susceptible, but do not fall unconscious after only Bashing damage. If left unhealed, this strike will upgrade all the bashing to lethal and can force a vampire into torpor. If the Vampire has the Blood Potency to spend enough blood to avoid falling unconscious for 6 rounds, then the effect wears off.
Spotlight on: The
Guildmaster: Jose Julio, aka “Cybergod,” has proclaimed himself the leader of this new “Clique” by right of organizing the strike that led to it. No one’s challenged him on this, yet, and if he keeps making the right decisions it may yet be a while before anyone does. Center of Power: The Clique’s leadership is currently hiding out in the National Security Agency’s own mainframe, all but daring the Guild they left to come and get them. At least, that’s what they want the Artiﬁcers to think: in reality, they’re hiding in Las Cruces, and watching with glee as what few “house servant” web-savants the Guild has left all but fry themselves trying to hack the NSA. Specialty Arcanos: While what they practice is, technically, Inhabit, the Clique is pushing to have their computer-heavy Arcanos - and all related electronic arts thereof - renamed Necrocybernetics.
slowly developed. On one end are the traditionalists who remember the days before computers, and when they called their Arcanos Kinesis. On the other end are the “new wave” kids, who only ever knew it as Inhabit, and have taken to the new, digital world like ducks to water. The old-timers want to bang hammer to forge and make Artifacts, while the new breed want to dive into Virtuality and make it sing for them. Older hands in the Guild knew that the difference in outlook would probably come to a head one day, but they trusted in Lord Nhudri’s presence to keep order. They also trusted in people like Lord Ember - not to mention the zealots in the Cult of Nhudri - to enforce it. But then the 6th Great Maelstrom saw Lord Nhudri vanish from his workshop, and Lord Ember disappear into a ﬁnal Harrowing. And its aftermath saw the once-venerated Guild have to take it on the lam from angry mobs, and get absolutely no respect from the other Guilds. In the face of those harsh realities that order all but crumbled, and a schism was inevitable. So it was that, one day, a massively talented Journeyman by the name of Jose Julio got sick and tired of being told to eat shit and call it manna from Heaven. He’d been building towards this for some time, and had cultivated enough friends and allies to call for a general strike - one that was too large for the Cult of Nhudri to quell, and much too loud to ignore. Bolstered by the huge response, Jose went to the Guild’s leadership and gave them a list of requests - all part of a plan to bring the Guild into the 21st Century, as he put it. However, the leaders were rather contemptuous of these notions, and threw them all back in his face as “impossible,” “too much” or “too presumptuous.” Who was he to tell them anything...? Then he was told to submit himself for judgment for widescale disruption of the Guild’s business in this time of emergency, and that was the signal the others were waiting for. With a ﬁnal ﬂourish - two ﬁngers on both hands - Jose leaped into the Tempest, daring his would-be captors to follow him. And as word went down the chain, his followers all tossed their hammers and necklaces aside, and left as one. In the short time since then, the Clique has gained new members, and made a lot of headway in their plans. They’ve also fought off assaults on their group by Artiﬁcers sent to bring them back to the fold, and have suffered only minor casualties. Put simply, no one knows the virtual battleground better than they do, and the old folks just can’t compete.
There’s Jose, up at the top, calling himself the Leader due to his having thought of it ﬁrst, and being the loudmouth around whom the others have congealed. Below him is everyone else, and although he has a few trusted people in his inner circle (which he calls his Tiger Team) he doesn’t want to have a huge, sprawling bureaucracy. He feels that the era of entrenched specialization is a relic of the past, and only leads to inﬁghting and stupid power games. If something needs doing, he’ll ﬁnd the best person for it, ask them to get a team together and then let him know what’s going on. And when it’s done, they can disband – simple as that. To facilitate this, those wraiths entitled to call themselves NecroCyberz are given a Relic eCard that proclaims them as a member. This eCard also has their primary skills listed and rated, just like G.I.Joe ﬁlecards. This information - which is public knowledge - is used by Jose to pick team leaders, and the team leaders also use that information to pick their teams. And that’s all the organization the Clique really wants.
None. (See above)
Since the invention of electronics, and the new worlds this opened up to the Artiﬁcers Guild, a rift within the Guild has
Right now, the NecroCyberz are engaged in the attempt to hollow out online Haunts. This is being done for their own beneﬁt three times over: it not only provides them with a place to wait out the Storm, and a place to hide from the Guild, but also a possible “peace offering” to give the other Guilds. They’re savvy enough to realize that all the other, recognized Guilds have to be providing some kind of free service to the Underworld, as a whole, in order to be recognized. And being able to shunt wraiths from the Storm-tossed Shadowlands into virtual reality - without making them lose contact with their Fetters would be a major step in that direction.
CURRENT POLITICAL SITUATION
The Clique has almost no real friends, but a major enemy, at the current time. The Artiﬁcers are not happy to have lost so
many “promising” members to Jose and his rebellion, and are in the process of hunting him down. They ﬁgure that if they can cut off the head of the revolt, the rest of the rabble will fall back into line, and before long it will be as though it never happened. The only problem with this plan is that the Artiﬁcers simply do not have the people, resources or time to devote to the problem. The revolt came at the worst possible moment in the Guild’s history, and was not only one more thing they didn’t need, but one more thing they really couldn’t do anything about. The best they can do, now, is send a few Masters in bad standing out to ﬁnd weaknesses in their defenses, and maybe slip a few of their own “converts” towards the faction, just to gnaw at them from within. But these are only tactics of irritation; The Guild will get its people back, in time, but that time might wind up being a ways away.
Of floating Spirits
By Eloy Lasanta
The nature of the human spirit is fragile, indeed. Even the most virtuous spirit can be deﬁled by temptation. The most noble of spirits can be crushed under the foot of defeat. Too many things in a human’s life can affect their spirit. This, too, is true about their deaths. In this article, I will be going over the basic concept of the Yulan-jin, as well as some of my own colorful adages that may make integrating them into your campaigns or playing much easier on everyone involved. In other words, this is my rundown. Not everything here is canon, but it’s the way I run it. Shall we begin? Ok.
WHAT IS A YULAN-JIN?
A Yulan-jin is a member of the hungry dead, just as any of the others. However, their spirits are so weak that they cannot hold on to their physical form for long. If they are suffer the Little Death at any time they will leave their body, an experience they call the Ripping, and end up in a new one with a bit of amnesia. It sucks and I’m sure you’re asking yourself...
HOW DOES ONE BECOME YULAN-JIN?
Those Yulan-jin lucky enough to escape hell and not vanish due to sheer weakness return from Yomi the same way other Kuei-jin do. They inhabit their own body and become chih-mei, ravenous creatures bent on devouring the precious chi of any around them. But capturing them is a chore in itself. To pin a chih-mei in a corner is to call it’s Demon Chi into the situation, making it faster and meaner then before. In these sort of situations, “putting down” the beast is safer than trying to take it unharmed. For a normal Kuei-jin, this simply knocks him out temporarily until he can be trained correctly. For a Yulan-jin, however, meeting the Little Death means moving his predatory spirit to another dead body to inhabit and begin their rampage again. This can go on for weeks, and in many cases does just that. Until they are able to bring it in safely, it travels all around the Middle Kingdom massacring everything in sight. Whenever the chih-mei wranglers realize what they face, they get out the bats and it’s clobbering time (since your spirit does not leave your body if you’re just knocked out).
These poor, unfortunate souls (to steal a line from Disney) take the brunt of their disadvantages from the Kuei-jin state. Yulan-jin usually die in the most horrifying ways imaginable, in situations that would break a normal person’s spirit to nothing. Having discovered the terrifying knowledge that you were the cause of the ultimate shame or death of your own family is one good one. Many Yulan-jin were also the victims of the powerful Disciplines of the Kuei-jin in their mortal days, some of which have the ability to ﬂay a person’s soul. It could happen after they arrive in hell as well, if they are especially affected by the torture the 1000 Hells can put a soul through. No matter the numerous reasons there are behind this condition, those afﬂicted feel everything stronger. The winds of Yomi cut them much deeper, the sting of the demon guard’s whip sheds a bit more blood, their spirit is weak and everyone in Hell knows it. They often become the favorite “playthings” for the demons and servants of the Yama Kings, who amuse themselves with their torture like burning an ant with a magnifying glass. The soul just doesn’t have the power to ﬁght back. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it), they don’t have the power to stay for long either. The scars that Yomi carves into the soul leaves its very being unstable in the eyes of Heaven. This, not because of the Po’s cunning or strength, is the common reason why Yulan-jin return to the Middle Kingdom at all; because they are too weak to stay anywhere for too long, even Hell. Although, there are still other souls, just like a Yulan-jin’s, that simply wither and fade.
CHOOSING A DHARMA
Teaching a Yulan-jin is not that different than another Kueijin student. They choose their own path and follow it to the best of their abilities. However, the things teachers must do to instruct their pupils in their Dharma can go beyond simple koans and onto physical and mental torture in some cases. This is where things get messy. The Path of 1000 Whispers is the most common among the Yulan-jin. However, their lives don’t only end with the gaining of enlightenment, but also if fatal mishaps occur. Often times, when they return to the Middle Kingdom in their new body, they must start a new life, since the amnesia has set in deeply. The Rootless Trees have a tendency to be very sporadic in their lives, but the Yulan-jin make it an art form. So much, as a matter of fact, that they are often referred to as the Floating Trees; not only do they have no roots, but they do not even have gravity holding them in their place. Followers of the Way of the Resplendent Crane can ﬁnd a feeling of peace within the conﬁnes of the laws they are provided. They learn their place in the world and their history and can use special rites to structure themselves in the Way. If a Yulan-jin forgets these laws after the Ripping, he would bring much shame on his mentor, incurring the wrath of many. The path of the Shining Ice Guardian brings its good and bad points, but is the second best choice. The Thrashing Dragons, likewise, are a good choice for those who have suffered the curse of the Yulan-jin. Striving to live as much as possible is already a goal for so many of them, holding on
to their bodies by a thread. There are many Yulan-jin who stay indoors all the time, scared to go into the world for fear of losing their life yet again. The Laughing Rainbows, however, are those Yulan-jin who grab life by the balls and squeeze as hard as they can, daring it to come for them. The Quiet Song also calls to some Yulan-jin, urging them to stay in the shadows and speak only when asked something they can answer with a koan. However, the Song of the Shadow teaches to be devoid of Emotion as well. This is one of the hardest things possible for the Yulan-jin. Imagine what it would feel like, physically, spiritually and mentally, to have your spirit ripped from your body, then clawing into another body. Is this something that can be easily ignored with the Cold Mind? Hell no! Hence, some Yulan-jin attempt this path, usually ﬁnding out that it is not the way for those with no real control of themselves. And possibly the worst and most traumatizing Dharma for a Yulan-jin to take is the Howl of the Devil-Tiger. Yes, it is the worst thing imaginable for a Yulan-jin to subject himself to constant ﬁghts, where he meets the little death in regular intervals. Most can’t even make it through their koa without changing their minds and choosing another Dharma. The ones that do try to achieve some sort of power within the Devil-Tigers will usually end up meeting Final Death and returning to Yomi, permanently. The Yulan-jin are also drawn to the Spirit of the Living Earth Dharma and, as a Veil, can serve the spirits as well as any other Kuei-jin. But the other heretical Dharmas can only hold onto a Yulan-jin for so long. They will be crushed as Rising Phoenix the moment they lose their original body and try to convince their family that the stranger in front of them is really daddy. Not remembering your worshippers really effects a Godling’s control. Tempests and Scorpion Eaters, likewise, are just as excitable as Devil-Tigers making it an unwise choice in Dharma.
in spirit form away from his body or to those who use Obligation. Your afﬁliation cannot be changed, so choose well, but these Soul Circles are purely optional. A Yulan-jin can deny them all, but will be subject to normal rules. Below are examples, but each Storyteller is encouraged to create others to compliment his own personal world.
This circle of Yulan-jin have made peace with their condition and seek to unravel it. They realize that their state is a result of chaos in their past-life, of a weakness they still carry with them from their living days and that must be erased. This is the youngest sect of Yulan-jin, yet it has gathered quite a following since it’s founding in 1928 in Shanghai. From research in the great libraries of Chongqing to Spirit Journeys lasting decades at a time, the Wu Ling Luan have found that Chaos is the answer to Chaos. They have found that they can quench their spirits thirst for stability by causing madness around themselves. Obviously, there are few Whispers or followers of the Quiet Song who align themselves with these crazy men. Protection: As long as the Yulan-jin is temporarily imbalanced, they may spend chi to resist the Ripping. For every chi spent, they receive one die on a roll Difﬁculty 9. If the Yulan-jin scores 2 or more successes, they are able to hold onto their body. Only chi exceeding their chi virtues can be spent in this way. Weakness: The Character will seek to throw things out of balance and must spend a Willpower point to resist for a scene.
WU LING LUAN - THE FAMILY OF CHAOS
No matter the choice in Dharma, the Yulanjin are never truly accepted by their peers. They are different, they are weak and, as such, they are not respected by most other Kuei-jin. They consider themselves family, linked by their spiritual condition, placing the Yulan- in their name to signify their personality (ex: Yulan-Li Rong, Yulan-Anjing, etc). The Yulan-jin have also developed their own sects, called Soul Circles. Each circle also provides one additional way for the Yulan-jin to keep his body. Joining a Soul Circle is quite easy, yet it will last for the rest of their existence. The process of a Yulan-jin’s induction involves the branding of his soul with a rite. This character, written in the oldest Kuei-jin language, Kaja, is visible only if the Yulan-jin is
The Family of Life prides itself on experiencing life. They can then use this infusion of life to keep their spirits from coming apart. They attempt to ﬁll their un-lives with so much life that it mirrors the worst binges by the Thrashing Dragons (who they are a favorite amongst). This infusion of life into their bodies ﬁlls the cracks in their souls, helping them resist the Ripping. They meet twice a month in depraved orgies and inspired gatherings, debating on the causes of their condition, as well as the nature of life itself. Protection: As long as the Yulan-jin is Yang Imbalanced, they may resist the Ripping. They receive one die for every dot of permanent Yang chi to resist at a Difﬁculty of 9. If the Yulan-jin scores 1 or more successes, they are able to hold onto their body. Weakness: The Yulan-jin becomes Yin deﬁcient. They are never able to hold more Yin than their permanent rating and must spend double the Yin needed in any use, even to raise your corpse each night (ex: Ghost Sight would cost 2 Yin to use).
WU BEI - THE FAMILY OF LIFE
WU SI WANG - THE FAMILY OF DEATH
This Soul Circle seek to ﬁll themselves with the forces of Yin to achieve their balanced spirit. This can be done by protecting ghosts or their families, but also by devouring them. Yulanjin Bone Flowers revel in this circle, as it helps them along their chosen path quite well with little need to stray from either their dharma or their “family”. This circle however can turn others into corpse eating lunatics. But look at the bright side. They won’t leave their death-ridden body behind, will they? Protection: As long as the Yulan-jin is Yin Imbalanced, they can resist the Ripping. They receive one die for every dot of permanent Yin chi to resist at a Difﬁculty of 9. If the Yulan-jin scores 1 or more successes, they are able to hold onto their body. Weakness: The Yulan-jin becomes Yang deﬁcient. They are never able to hold more Yang than their permanent rating and must spend double the Yang needed in any use, even to raise your corpse each night (ex: Life Sight would cost 2 Yin to use).
A good way to ﬁnd out who you are when you reawaken in your new body is to invest some time into learning the discipline Obligation. It allows you to look into others souls ﬁnding out their deepest darkest secrets, but the most importantly, it allows you to do the same to yourself. It is only ﬁnding out about yourself second hand, but it’s better than nothing.
KEEP A DATABASE
A FEW TIPS FOR SURVIVAL
ARMOR OF SOME SORT
To make sure you aren’t ripped from your body, you need to be well protected. A Kevlar jacket is a good way to do it, because you can still die if there are enough bullets shot at you, right? If you can’t get a hold of any physical armor, ﬁnd yourself a wise man and get some spiritual protection. There are many applications of jade, as well as special rites, to improve your ability to resist being fatally wounded. Of course, if all else fails, you can invest in the teachings of Iron Mountain; however, giving into your demon is never a good idea. Make sure you have a handle on your P’o with Cultivation or a really high Hun before taking this route.
Another way to keep tabs on your business, no matter what body you’re on, is to create an online identity. Make sure you commit it to memory as much as possible, since you only take the most important memories with you to your next body. Remembering your user name and password above all else, you can create a database that will have all your important knowledge about yourself in it. Bank accounts (yes, you can get rich going through a few lives in a short time) and names of friends and family members (that you would want to help console) are examples of some information you can store and save for a later time.
Now, I know that I have made it seem like the Yulan-jin probably switches bodies every other day. But quite the opposite is true. Depending on your lifestyle, you can survive years without having to worry about the Ripping. However, to be useful in any group, you’ll have to take chances and one of those chances could lead you to the Little Death.
I hope that you all enjoyed my take on the Yulan-jin. They had all of a few paragraphs devoted to them in Canon and I just though they needed more. As always, hit me up on my e-mail with any comments, suggests, complaints, etc. Peace out!
By Tony Murlin “Most people who worry about morality ought to.” – Richard Hugo
On the day of my rebirth, for one perfect moment, there was no line between the Beast inside me and myself. Through dulled senses and deadened skin I felt the rain drop in torrents over my body. There was once a time when the cold meant something, when I grasped for warmth as a matter of instinct. But now there exists only the purely physical knowledge that what I once was is no more, and what I am now is something more and something less, then what I used to be. Feeling slowly cascaded over my prone form, my weight slowly dragging me into the mud. A silent scream passed from my lips and attempted freedom, but my jaw, clenched in a swirling discord of new emotions that were muted, yet at the same time exited to an insane degree, refused to grant it leave. As the world came steadily into focus, I knew more and more about hatred… and hunger… than I have ever felt before in my life. What was once a dull, low ache rapidly became a ﬁre that burned at the very core of my being. Anger and hunger mixed and became one blinding, indescribable emotion. As I began to rise I felt that the tremors wracking my body were no longer from the icy coldness of the unforgiving rain, but from the hell that erupted behind my eyes. A seething red haze came over my eyes, enveloping the entire world. Distinguishable patterns became blurring movement in an indecipherable environment. The sounds of rain gave way to a deafening silence as I lost control of my very being. There was a thing inside me that required satiation, and it would not rest until it received its due. My last vestiges of human thought lost its lingering hold on the precipice of my existence once I perceived more movement. After that, all became nothing. ••••• There is very little in life to assure one who walks its myriad of paths. The only assurances are those that the collective “you” know for absolute certain. You will, at some point in your life, get sick. You will, barring misadventure, eventually wither and die. At least most of you will. Of course, this does, for the most part, leave exception for us. Who is “us”, you ask? I don’t think you’re ready to know yet. Give you and I some time to become acquainted, and then I might ﬁll you in on my little secret. But you must indulge me, lest I feel the urge to discontinue the conversation. Ah… blessed silence. You learn quickly, a trait that I like very much… keep it up. In the days ahead it will almost certainly ensure the continuation of your existence. In the spirit of friendly conversation, let me ask you a question. Is it a sin for a being greater than a man to kill him? Be careful how you answer this question, because the answer you give will be loaded with assumptions you never meant to make. How do I know? Well, take the answer “yes”, for example. If it is, indeed, a sin for a greater being to kill a man, then what does that say of God? He is a greater being, is he not? But, how can he, who is the ﬁnal arbiter of that which is “sin”, be sinful? Doesn’t his existence as a murderer make him bias, seeing as how his will has brought thousands, if not millions, to their deaths since the birth of the religions of the book? Even if you rule that only one death was God’s will, does that not make him a murderer? If not, maybe he is guilty of the sin of suicide. If we are taught our entire lives that “two wrongs do not make a right”, then how does a murder/sacriﬁce truly undo the sin of the world. We could always say, “because God is perfect and can do anything”, but that would be too easy. If God were perfect in every way, shape, and form, then the blight that is this existence would not be as such. The idea that God created evil in order to test man shows that man is a ﬂawed creation. If God is perfect, then how could he create a ﬂawed creation? Either he is ﬂawed (and thus not perfect), or mankind was ﬂawed from the very beginning. Taking the latter into account, would it then serve that there are ways for mankind to transcend his ﬂawed state and become something more… something greater? And if, on the path of this continued transcendence to a less ﬂawed state, the greater being had to kill a more ﬂawed lesser being, one could come to the conclusion that it is not a sin, due to the fact that the death of the lesser being was part of God’s will. Hmmm… you’re either rapt in fascination or attempting to cower in fear. Either way, I like that I have your attention. ••••• The sensation was akin to the combination of good sex, a good cigarette, a world shattering epiphany, and the excitement of a near life experience. It’s as if every life afﬁrming experience I’ve
ever known before this night were added together and multiplied by some ludicrous number that exists only in space and national economies. My violent euphoria was taken from me by a sorrowful whimper, the kind that engenders people to buy those unwanted puppies inside cardboard boxes on wayward street corners. My vision reawakened into a world of brown. At ﬁrst I thought I still had mud in my eyes, but I quickly realized that it was a cascade of long, wavy locks blocking my vision. My mortiﬁcation came and went like a New York taxi cab, until my senses returned enough for me to realize that I not only had someone in my arms, but that I was sucking on them. I forced myself to ignore the connotations behind the copper taste in my mouth, and at ﬁrst became resolute to allow my reverie to continue. I felt truly at peace, clasped onto this person like a lamprey. It was like a womb for my mind, the monster coiled throughout, placating my every desire in one perfect moment. This was love. This was Heaven. This is what I was meant to do with my life. A sharp burst of lightning cracked hard behind me. Something deep inside spoke to me, warning me that someone, or something, was going to take my Heaven away from me. I was resolute in my need for this feeling, so what I did was squeeze a little harder. At the time I was too enveloped in what I was doing to realize that I was constricting harder and harder every time my Heaven pulsated, or I heard the strange whimper, or the lightning exploded. Eventually, after a twig snapped, the whimpering stopped. ••••• Have you ever contemplated Hell, my friend? What is Hell, if but the absence of God’s sight? Would God need to watch over a perfect creation? No, I doubt that. What would a perfect being need with voyeuristic tendencies? That’s right, my gagged friend, he wouldn’t need to watch at all. A perfect being does everything perfectly… and thus does not require God’s constant vigil. But if being consigned to Hell is being taken from God’s sight, doesn’t that make one perfect in God’s eyes? Being Damned is transcendence, my friend, or, at the very least, transcendent. If a being becomes Damned, that being is forever taken from the eyes of God, which, in turn, one may surmise that it also frees one from God’s plan. Therefore, Damnation is the ultimate freedom… freedom from mortality, freedom from limitation, freedom from the world of man and God. There is a price for this freedom, as hypocritical as it may seem; the thought that one would be a slave to debt in payment for ultimate freedom is a paradoxical juxtaposition at best. Once set free, you are alone… forever. Your freedom is such an affront to God that his presence tears at your very being. As a being set aside from the God-Created world, the ﬁres of Creation and the light of his loving oppression seek to bring you back into the fold via the Mortal Coil. Fortunately, we have our own Coils. And with each further Coil we transcend, we come closer to our imminent goal… ••••• Upon regaining consciousness, I discovered that there was blood on my hands now, a viscous glove of spilt life that, like Midas, brings ruination to everything it touches. The rain danced
around my statuesque form as I watched water attempt to clean the sin from my hands. The form at my feet was now nothing more than a thing, an object once imbued with life that now surged like frozen liquid ﬁre through my veins. Once there was bliss, now there is only the mocking laughter of the Serpent, who brought ruination to my own personal innocence. The red fruit of Eden was taken from the Eve at my feet, her body ravished, crushed, and laid disdainfully at my feet. I now knew evil; I now knew that I had become like the Eve sinking into the mud at my feet. I remember the precious feeling of her heartbeat as I held her body close to mine, the warmth of her skin as my cold mouth rested open and hollow on her supple ﬂesh, and the feeling of her life, as the years left in hers came to rest in me to fuel one more day of my blasphemy. The percussion of thunder rang loudly in my ears as the wind caused the trees to play a subtle melody. Nature itself roared in applause of this silent song, a requiem for Eve, and her new Adam. There was no doubt within my mind after this point that I was indeed damned. Through vicious wrath I had sated my gluttonous thirst. I had become sin incarnate, a monster so abhorrent that life itself had left me, and now I stand, cold, dead, and hollow. In my rush to learn what it was to live, to stare intently into the abyss, but I had completely ignored the eyes staring at me back. Now I know exactly what must be done to live… others must die. The men and women in the world must now become my Eucharist, for their blood shall give me life. The prospect was too much to bear, the idea that a higher power would allow these things to happen. I made one last promise before I initiated myself into a race of liars: I promised that I would become like unto God himself, if only to prove that transcendence lies in the realms beyond his sight… ••••• I bet you’re asking what it’s like to be Damned. What it’s like to know, for a fact, that God does not like you, and, if anything, would like to see you obliterated. It’s quite liberating, I assure you. As a man, before my Embrace some seventy-ﬁve years ago, I was quite concerned about my place in God’s plan and what he thought of me. Every day I took it on faith that he truly loved me like the good book said he did, and I followed all the little rules and regulations required of me… like all good Christians. Oh, sure, I slipped every now and then. I enjoyed the drink a little too much one night (despite its illegality), and on the next I would enjoy a… bad woman. Heh. But a quick trip to the confessional and the requisite renunciation of my acts was enough to get me in, right? Deep inside I felt that the answer was not one I’d like to hear, but I held hope that, despite my faults, I was the type of man that would get to sit next to the throne of the Lord when my day ﬁnally came. That I would be forgiven. But then the nagging questions began: “What if my religion isn’t the correct one” or “What if my religion is correct, but I am ultimately a failure in the eyes of God?” For a man as concerned over religious matters as I was, these were questions to which I lost sleep. Then, one day I met my un-Maker, and became… free. Hmmm…. You aren’t going anywhere… let me tell you a story…
A shrill scream of co-mingled pain and pleasure breaks the placid country night, piercing the silence that looms over the darkened temple. Running his hand over his baldhead, the young man walks for the doors to the temple. Feeling the darkened, sturdy wooden door, he sighs heavily before shoving it open. Making his way over some debris, he slowly heads for the back of the main area of the temple. A soft hissing sound is heard from behind him but he barely reacts to it, making his way straight for the doors ahead of him and shoving them wide open, stopping suddenly to look over the sight before him. All around the room are mortal men and women in the throes of pain, pleasure and ecstasy as they writhe and groan under bakemono of both sexes. Sitting on a large chair made of stone and decorated with bits of bone and jade, is a man, slight of stature but with a force of will that can be felt from across the expansive room. Master Whangbo . . . I hope he doesn’t react too harshly to my failings . . . The slight man looks up at the young Devil Tiger’s entry. “Shen Jin, what brings you back here so soon after leaving?” The man asks. The annoyed tone of his voice brings a slight shudder to Shen as he bows to the elder. “Most wise and honored elder, I have come to deliver news of the mission you sent us on.” Spoken nervously. The elderly man sighs heavily and waves a hand idly then. “Speak then, boy. And make it quick. I have more important matters to attend to than sitting here listening to you all night.” Nodding at his words, Shen rises to his feet and looks at the man. “You sent us out to meet with members of the Green Court to obtain the package you asked for. However when we arrived at the small village, there was naught there. It was a ghost town, devoid of any mortals much less Wan Kuei. We proceeded to investigate as per Saimdang’s orders . . . the Bone Flower leader of our wu. As we split up, I was made aware of the fact I was being watched and I proceeded to assume the Demon’s form, just in case of a Green Court ambush . . . “ Shen trails off, clearly bothered by what he is thinking. “What is it boy? What happened? Do not waste my time with this drivel unless it is important.” Taken aback at the outburst from the elder, Shen nods and licks his lips before continuing. “I heard a scream from one of my wu mates . . . one of the women. Not sure which one though because almost as soon as that happened I noticed something my senses hadn’t caught before. There were scents in the air that made my P’o go wild; the scent of Yomi was in that place. Realizing something bad was going on here, I ran to the scream but was stopped by demons that suddenly blocked my path. They looked like vulture men or something. Distorted beings . . . Regardless, I managed to ﬁght them off, but the sight of them had my P’o in a whirl. Memories of time in Yomi and tortures that were suffered came rushing back . . . “ Taking a breath he continues. “By the time I found them,
By Daniel Acaba
only my leader Saimdang was left. She demanded I leave her to hold them off and report back to you. So I fought my way out of the city and returned here.” It is at this point that Shen moves his hand that was clutched to his ribs, revealing a gaping wound that would have disemboweled any mortal that had taken the wound. For the Devil Tiger however, it is merely something to be overcome. “I see. Sister Bone Flower was wise to send you back here. This is troubling news.” The elder says softly, rubbing his white stubble on his chin. “Did you see or notice anything else? Was there anything that stood out?” Shen thinks for a moment before shaking his head negatively. “No elder, I did not. Everything was rather cut and dry there. The horde of creatures going through my combat wu like a hot knife through butter was all that really stands out to me . . . “ It’s clear that the thought of having lost his wu is troubling him greatly. “Shen. Go home to your wife. Rest. You have dealt with much trouble this night. I think you for bringing me this message and I will take this information to those who will put it to best use.” Nodding, Shen bows again, but is interrupted by Whangbo speaking again. “However. If I should ﬁnd out that you were a coward there and deserted your wu to die, you would be lucky to get off by only greeting the Eye of Heaven.” Shen tenses a bit at the threat, knowing full well that the elder’s words ring true. Bowing once again, Shen makes a hasty retreat from the temple, knocking over a bakemono in his rush. The frightened creature skitters away from the Devil Tiger, not wishing to upset its superiors. Whangbo sits in his chair for a long while, thinking over Shen Jin’s words before slowly rising from his chair. His bones crack and twist as the old man moves for the ﬁrst time in decades. The gathered creatures around him stop their fornication and look to him, curious what has brought this man from his chair. Making his way down the steps, he moves toward a room in the corner, throwing the door wide as he enters. Inside, two snakelike bakemono are lying on the ﬂoor next to a dresser where a jade bowl rests. “Move.” Said sharply in Korean as the creatures both slither out of the way rapidly. Walking over to the bowl, he concentrates on his inner Yang before pricking his ﬁnger on a sharp edge of the bowl, letting drops of his Yang-charged blood mingle with the water in the bowl. Letting the blood ﬂow cease, he leans over the bowl and watches the water for a moment before he begins to speak in low tones. “Emerald River of Fire, appear before me. We must talk.” The mixture of Chi and water shimmers and ﬂows, turning into an image of a savage, but beautiful female face. “Whangbo. I hope this is important. I will not be pleased if it is not . . . “ The man licks his lips before speaking. “It has been found. The Broken Mirror has been found and it is not more than two hours
travel away from here. They took over a small village and have stripped it of human life and killed at least seven Wan Kuei. Only one has survived the attack, one of my dharma.” He explains. The woman’s face gets interested suddenly at the mention of the Broken Mirror. “Really now? Have you? And what do you think of the area? How populated is it?” She asks looking away as she says something softly in Korean, presumably to one of her aides. “It is in a now deserted area due to them taking the humans. They’re likely food and hosts for bakemono now.” Whangbo adds. The woman nods to that. “And if we were to bring out the weapons, how much danger would there be to other humans?” He thinks for a moment and reaches for a piece of paper. Looking over it closely, he analyzes the writing on it before speaking. “If we make a thorough assault on the area as our elders have dictated, we will likely destroy four small villages and destroy part of a larger city.” Said easily as if he were discussing the weather. “I see. Send a messenger with all the relevant information and let us gather our troops to be mobilized. We will set up a perimeter before we devastate the area with missiles. Once we have ﬂattened the demons we will send in our forces to ﬁnish it off and seal the Broken Mirror.” He
nods to her words and grins. “As you wish. I look forward to this momentous event. The Thousand Embers Righteousness Society will no longer have to hide away from the masses. We will seize our destiny and annihilate all that oppose us.” He grins and the woman laughs a girlish laugh. The sound of rapid movement suddenly distracts him. Whirling around Whangbo looks at the bakemono. “Why were you listening in on my conversation?” The two serpent creatures look over to him. “It was not us, master. It was Shen Jin. He was just here.” Whangbo’s eyes widen at that. “He heard . . . Get him!” With a hiss, the bakemono slithers out of the room calling for others to come with them. Walking out to watch the small horde of bakemono race out the temple, Whangbo makes a ﬁst. He can ruin everything. He must not be allowed to live to pass on what he has seen and heard. Breathing heavily, Whangbo runs as hard as he can. The cries and screeches of the bakemono behind him, he moves as fast as his demon powers and Yang Prana will allow him to move. He has to warn someone . . . has to ﬁnd help. I can’t let them do this. I cannot . . . those innocents . . .
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.