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~ID'1'S Aunto~s rllAl(l:_s


Authors: Bruce Baugh (Taking the Second Breath, The whole Blood & Silk team dedicates the fruit of
Disciplines, Tales of Silk, Barbarians and Shen), Geoffrey their labor to Richard E. Dan.sky.
C. G rabowski (Many Roads Back, Ways Under Heaven), Bruce Baugh thanks Dr. Suzanne Barnett, who bears
Ellen P. Kiley {Xiong Ren, Hsien, Cities of the Dead), so much responsibility for hooking his interest in China.
James Kiley (Hungry Dead of the Middle Kingdom) James Kiley thanks Bill "Hobbes" Fisher for being
Additional Material: Philippe R. Boulle such a useful Japanophile, "Mighty" Bob Fetterolffor his
Developers: Philippe R. Boulle and RichardE. Dansky copious archaeological library and Ed "dirque" Huang for
Editor: John Chambers his copious Chinese mythology library.
Art Director: Richard Thomas
Layout & Typesetting: Bcian Glass
Interior Art: Mike Danza, Patrick Lamben, Brian
LeBlanc, Drew Tucker and Melissa Uran
Front Cover A rt: Jamie Tolagson
Front & Back Cover D esign: Brian Glass and
Tor Johnson

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~~-----------------@-----------------~~

;..,.._oDUCTJOt(
con?.an?s 4
~ o..~= Hu..c;"'Y DEAD OF"TM MjDDll ~..c;DoM (WoR,LD) .. 0
~Two: ~Y ".oADs BA.. fDtwt_MAS) 48
~ T""'H: T~..c; Tl& SECO..D BR,E-ATH- -~s) 62
~ FOUR,: W1a.s o._D~ ~ (TRN'S MtD SYSTEMS) 82
~ Ffw: TAUS oF"SJa.r.. (SnR.nll.lP(c;) 126
~ SJx.: B~AJU4"5 AttD Sllffl. f~ossow"-s) 134
APPEN.DJX.: Cmu OF"TM DEAD floCA1lo,.s) 160
.
-- ---
Jtm.oDUCTJON 5

This night of no moon


There is no way ro meet him.
1rise in longing -
My breast pounds, a leaping fUime,
My heart is consumed in fire.
- Ono no Komachi, Kokinshu

Y/11..co~ TO THE
inhabit the Asian night- these troubled times herald the
turning of the Age, the end of their era and the beginning
of another, more terrible time.
FOu--nt~l
As Christians would reckon it, the year is 1197. T"M Hu"c;"Y DE-AD
European kings wage their wars and embark on their Millennia ago, in the legendary Third Age, the
crusadesutterlyunawarethatcivilizationsolderandgreater August Personage of Jade elevated men and women to
than their own rule the day- and the night - in distant divinity. These Ten Thousand Immortal~ - or Wan
lands. Far to the East lies the Middle Kingdom, or China Xian - were warrior-poets and philosopher-kings,
and the many cultures that surround it. For millennia, this battling demons and creating a golden age. But the
area has been a center of culture and empire, its influence Wan Xian became greedy and fell from grace, feeding
spreading far and wide. from their mortal charges in order to gain ever more
However, it is now a time of change and chaos. Great power. At the end of the Third Age, the August
China stands reduced in the form of the Southern Song Personage cursed the Wan Xian for all time, shattered
dynasty, which rules but half of the empire's traditional their legendary home on Mount Meru and turned his
lands. Nihon (what we would call Japan) is just emerging back on them.
from a bloody civil war whose wounds have yet to heal. Now, they are the Ten Thousand Demons, the
And in the north, the Mongol horde is but a few decades Wan Kuei. Mortals who have earned a sojourn in Hell,
from riding forth and lashing out at the near totality of the but who are strong enough to escape it, retum to theu
known world. bodies as Wan Kuei. They live by night, feeding on the
For mortal men and women of the Middle Kingdom, blood and breath of humans. In theory, they seek
these troubled times are but another shift in fortunes and enlightenment and redemption but, all too often, play
dynasty - troubling perhaps, but not unprecedented. For power games and indulge in corrupt practices, just lilce
the shen - the vampires, shapechangers and spirits who their predecessors.
6 ~~~~---~.:;....iliiiiii_...________~--~(j) B LOOD &! SJU:..
' "

O~s
. - .
- " --
1
DAtH
The Wan Kuei are perhaps the predominant force
Some of the dates that appear in BJood &
among the shen, but they are hardly alone. Far from the
Silk are given as "the XXth year of the Foo
urban homes of these vampires, the shapechanging Xiong
dynasty," which becomes rather cumbersome for
Ren - the Ferocious People - rule. Betrayed by the
the Western reader. However, it is equally im-
Wan Xian in ages past, they do not trust the demons and
plausible for the Wan Kuei narrators of the his-
blame them for the turning of the Age. The hsien,
torical sections to give dates in years CE and
descendants of the August Personage's agents aban-
BCE. Therefore, consider the following table of
doned on Earth, also hold a mighty grudge. Magi -
dates:
known as chi'n ta - and ghosts also move about the
Date Event
Middle Kingdom.
And deep in the shadows lurk the Yama Kings, who c. 2200 BCE Xia Kingdom begins
rule the Thousand Hells, and their agents. Many are those c.1750 BCE Shang dynasty begins
willing to sell their souls to the masters ofHell, including 1122 BCE Zhou dynasty begins '
f
the Kumo Goblin Spiders, the depraved Kura Sau of the 221 BCE Qin dynasty begins
hsien and the hidden akuma of the Wan Kuei. 206 BCE Han dynasty begins
220CE Three Kingdoms era begins
T'""M 1UR_t0t(c; A;E J
265 CE Jin dynasty begins
The Fourth Age - known as the Age of Beautiful ,, 317 CE North and South dynasties begin
Sadness - has been one of melancholy and growth. As 581 CE Sui dynasty begins
human society burgeoned around them, the Hungry Dead r1:
618CE Tang dynasty begins
developed their courts and Dharmas, finding glimmers of
907CE Five Dynasties and Ten
hope. Now the Great Wheel is preparing to tum again and '
bring the Age ofDarkness to bear. Waves offear and worry Kingdoms era begins l

flow through the night courts. What will the new Age 960CE Song dynasty begins
bring? Who will come out on top? I 1127 CE Southern Song dynasty begins
lt is a time of change and anxiety, when the young ' 1197 CE The present day
grab what they can and the old hold on to what they have.
-' .~- .
I>

Away from the eyes of man, the night is covered in silk ...
and bathed in blood. Darkness games and goes into the status of the various
shen ofthe Fourth Age, including Asian changing breeds,
How TO Us1- r-HJs BooK.. mages and changelings. Both Chapter One (the setting)
and Chapter Four (the systems) are also useful for non,
World of Darkness: BJood & Silk opens up the end of vampiric chronicles.
the Fourth Age and the medieval Asian night as a setting
for your chronicles. It provides you with the tools necessary WllA.'rBLOOD s,~ ;s ..or
to tell stories in this faraway time, including historical and Most importantly, Blood & Silk is not an academic
geographical information, many new and adapted game text on medieval Asia. Although we have done our very
systems, character creation tips and much more. best to make things as accurate as possible, this is a work
Principally, Blood & Silk is a historical supple- of fiction about vampires and other monsters. With lim-
ment for Kindred of the East. It focuses on the Wan ited space, we also could cover only so much of the Asian
Kuei - Asian vampires - and their activities and night. Those who want or need more information on the
assumes they will be the characters players portray. realities of die time should look to the recommended
Although Blood & Silk can be read alone, where reading list.
material is unchanged from Kindred of the East we Blood & Silk is also not a standalone product that
have not repeated it (there are only so many pages in provides the final word on the Asian World ofDarkness at
the book!). Sow get the full Disciplines, Traits and this time. Blood & Silk deals almost exclusively with
game mechanics of the Wan Kuei you will need a copy ChinaandJapanattheendoftheFourthAge. Korea, lndia,
of Kindred of the East. As with that book, you will also Tibet and Southeast Asia all get passing references (some
need a copy of the core Storyteller game mechanics, longer than others), but space limitations meant we had to
preferably (but not necessarily) Vampire: The Mas, concentrate on the core of the Middle Kingdom.
querade or Vampire: The Dark Ages.
Although the Wan Kuei are the "stars," Blood & ~ Y CitAPnR_
Silk appears under the "World of Darkness" banner and Chapter One: Hungry Dead of the Middle Kingdom
contains material for other games. Chapter Six deals is the meat of the book from a source material standpoint.
explicitly with using Blood & Silk with other World of Through a series of documents written by Wan Kuei and
7
~-------------- ..........""'""'__"'""""____~~---
others, this chapter explores the world of the late Fourth Chapter Six: Barbarians and Shen explores the
Age. The basics of the Wan Kuei, the mortal history ofthe other inhabitants of the Middle Kingdom and the World
Middle Kingdom, the various courts of the Hungry Dead of Darkness in general. Xiong Ren shapechangers, Asian
and the lands of spirit are all part of this chapter. ghosts and mysterious hsien all get coverage. These sec-
Chapter Two: Many Roads Back explores the tions serve booth as tools for those running chronicles
beliefs of the Hungry Dead at che time ofBlood & Silk. featuring Wan Kuei and as historical appendices to other
Each of che five Dharmas defined by Grand Arhat Xue modem Asian supplements like Hengeyokai, Land of
gets a new treacmenc for the period. The chapter also Eight Million Dreams and Dark Kingdom of Jade. This
examines the Fivefold Way and the role of heresy at chapter also provides guidelines for bringing Wescem
this time. characters (and, through them, Vampire: The Dark
Chapter Three: Taking the Second Breath cakes Ages and Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade chronicles) into
you through the process of character creation in the late the Middle Kingdom of the late Fourth Age.
Fourth Age. Of course, many of the basics are the same as Appendix: Cities of the Dead provides details on a
in Kindred of the East, and those sections are only briefly series ofcities scactered throughout the Middle Kingdom.
summarized. There are differences in the dead of chis Age, Each can serve as the center ofa chronicle or a place wonh
however, am! they get the most attention. visiting d uring its course.
Chapter Four: Ways Under Heaven is a grab bag of
Traits and game systems useful for the Fourth Age. These lEXJCOt(
include (among other things) new Abilities and P'o
The following brief lexicon mcludes terms used
Natures, a new set of Disciplines and new guidelines for
throughout Blood & Silk and provides a quick reference.
spirit travel. This chapter also includes a wide variety of
You can also consult the much larger lexicon in Kindred
systems useful for representing mundane and supernatural
of the East, most of which is equally appropriate co Blood
situations typical of the period. New weapons and combat
& Silk.
systems also appear here.
Age of Beautiful Sadness: The Fourth Age m the
Chapter Five: Tales of Silk builds on the storytelling
Great Cycle, and the one coming to an end at the time of
material in Kindred of the East and provides you with
Blood & Silk.
ways to evoke the atmosphere and themes of a faraway
Age of Darkness: The Fifth Age of the Great Cycle,
time and place.
and the one on the horizon at che time of Blood & Silk.
8
.~akuma:
~~~~-------- ......------------------~
A Wan Kuei who
the Yama Kings, a crime punishable by utter destruction.
Accusing someone of being akuma is a deadly serious
.......c;
has entered the service of Pll!l!l!lll!!!l!'!l!-!'l!l'~-,..
, -----.--"""'~l!'!!~~--
AICD r_...l.JTl.1101(
There are two dominant styles of translitera-
- ""1

charge in the Fourth Age and rarely done for solely tion from Chinese characters into English words,
political reasons. the Yale transliteration and Pinyin.While neither
ancestor: Either a highly enlightened Wan Kuei or is truly correct (the only way to glean the myriad of
one who leads a court. meanings in a Chinese character is to learn Chi,
arhat: A vampire who has completely mastered her nese), the People's Republic of China and most
Dharma. Each Dharma theoretically has a single arhat, modern scholars use Pinyin. Blood & Silk does so
the most enlightened practitioner who has not ascended as well. If names appear totally foreign to you or if
to The Hundred Clouds. another source contradicts what you see here,
bodhisattva: A supremely enlightened vampire, one check to see if your reference material i:efers to the
step below the arhat. modern capital of China as Peking (Yale) or as
chi'n ta : "Lighming Person," a mage. The more Beijing (Pinyin). Ifyou're used to Yale, you'll have
correct transliteration is shinta. to do some translating in your head as we go. Our
chih.-mei: The cannibalistic and savage stage all Wan apologies in advance. The only exceptions are a
Kuei go through upon rising from their graves. few game terms introduced inKindred of the East,
Dharma: O ne of the philosophies that allow Wan which we have left as is to avoid confusion.
Kuei to rise above their savage state and find enlighten- On a similar note, we have deliberately cho-
ment. sen, in one or two cases, to use names familiar to
disciple: A young Wan Kuei, just embarked upon the West rather than more proper translitera- I

her Dharma. tions. More specifically, we use Confucius and


Genghis Khan, rather than the more technically
gaki: The Japanese term for Wan Kuei.
correct Kung Fuxi and Chinggis (or Qinggis)
hin: A vampire who has been brought out from the
Khan. These names are familiar enough to West-
cannibalistic state ofthe chih-mei but who has yet to choose ern, readers that we continue to use them rather
a Dharma.
than add to the confusion.
hsien: One of the surviving members of the celestial
bureaucracy trapped on Earth since the end of the Third
Age; they survive by inhabiting mortal bodies. The closest founded the five accepted Dhannas and the Fivefold W ay,
thing to an Asian equivalent of the European cbangelings. the great social principle of the vampires.
jina: A vampire rising in enlightenment and status; Yomi Wan: The Thousand Hells ruled over by the
still young, but no longer a disciple. Yama Kings. All Wan Kuei have spent time there and
mandarin: An enlightened (and often politically escaped to rise from their graves. Often just Yomi.
powerful) vampire. Mandarins are the most influential
members of most courts, ranking just below the ancestors.
Middle Kingdom, the: Used inBlood & Silk to mean
fN_SP;TJON_S .u{D
the Asian World of Darkness. In reality, iris the Chinese ~FE"'~CES
expression denoting China itself. You don't have to tum into a freelance scholar to
Wan Kuei: The T en Thousand Demons; the risen enjoy Blood & Silk; in fact, you don't have to do anything
vampires of the Middle Kingdom. Called Kuei-jin in but put this book to use. If you'd like to get additional
later years. informat ion, however, it can be difficult to know where to
Wan Xian: The Ten Thousand Immortals; the blessed start. Here we present our recommendations of particu-
demigods and philosopher-kings of the Third Age whose larly useful resources of different sorts, along with a few
cursed descendents are the Wan Kuei. words about how to spot bad ideas.
Xiong Ren: The Ferocious People; the shapechangers
of the Middle Kingdom, most especially those tied to the
Beast Courts. In Japan, they are called hengeyokai The Cambridge Illustrated History of China, by
("Changing Phantoms"), which will become the gener- Patricia Ebrey. Ebrey is one of the foremost scholars of
ally accepted term in years to come. C hinese history; here she's produced a remarkably non,
Xue: A term meaning both blood and study, it is the academic volume, lavishly illustrated, meticulously in-
name given to the Grand Arhat of the Wan Kuei; Xue dexed and altogether readable.
,
Daily Life in China on the Eve of the Mongol ~--------------------------_,;;;.._~~-
things happen. The treacment of the supernatural ts
Invasion, 1250-1276, by Jacques Gerner. This 1s an worth noting-spines and demons are everywhere, amJ
academic work in the old style, but if you want co know it's not surprising for heroes to ascend and become gods
how people lived, how they organized their lives from day at dramatic momems.
to day, nothing beats Gemec's comprehensive survey. Water Margin is aJ1fferemsortofchronicle ready
The Chan's Great Continent: China in Western to go. The heroes in this case are unjustly accused
Minds, by Jonathan Spence. This is your best source for brigands and various others in a story rhar's far too
mform.atton on the perspecnves char should shape char- complex to summanze. h has unleashed demons, wicked
acters in crossover games. Spence here (as in all his monks, corrupt officials who get their jusr rewards and a
books) digs up great anecdotes and sets them in their lot more.
proper concext. Many gamers like Barry Hughart's Chinese fantasy
Three Ways of Thought in Ancient China, by novels The Bridge of Birds, Eight Skilled Gentlemen and
Arthur Waley. Waley was one of the most graceful transla The Ston of the Stone. They're thoroughly anachroms-
torsofChinese literature into English, and this is one ofhis tic, mingling together elements of differcnr areas with
masterworks. He mtroducestheconcepts and presents long a generous dollop ofHughart's own imagmat1on. Don't
passages from the works of Mencius, ChuangTzu and Han treat chem as gospel, but do enjoy them for a general
Fei Tzu. With this in mind, you can more easily pomay a feel for China with the mythic come to life.
member of the Chinese civil service and anyone else g-LMS
inclined toward philosophy. ..,1
Japan From Prehistory to Modem Times, by John The Bride With White Hair. No words can do
Whtmey Hall. A dense, dear, useful history ofJapan, this justice to this movie. See it to see half the Wan Kuei
text is a good resource for Nihonjin chronicles. Disciplines in operation. Ir has the aging swordsman
seeking rest, che oppressive cult, the villainous leadmg
A New History of Korea, by Ki-baik Lee. A clear
and useful history of Korea, thtS book illustrates a number lady with her mobile hair and hermaphroditic tenden-
cies... ic's got everything.
of rather amusing anecdotes from Korean history as well.
A Chinese Ghost Story (series). Many of the rest
FJCYJOI( of the Disciplines owe something to these films. Hun-
The hundred-chapter novel is one of the tradi- dred,foot-long tonguei;, flaming sutras and bureaucrats
tional Chinese art forms. These novels try to encom- who combine incompetence and venality in amazing
pass the whole range of human expenence into a single quantity are just some of the highlights. Watch the
story. They thetefore combine adventure, romance, fights to see what burning Chi is all abouc.
farce, soap opera, tragedy, slapstick, sermons and Just Seven Samurai. Akira Kurosawa's dassic tale of a
about everythmg else. It's worth the time to read these, village m need and seven men on the margin trying to do
as they provide marvelous windows onto many differ~ the right thing remains as entertaining, and as inspira-
ent parts of their societies. Many of these novels have tional for chronicles, as ever.
multiple titles and sometimes widely divergent texts. The Silk Road (Dun Huang). This tale of 11th
You're not going to get a full lecture on the transmis~ century studencs pressed into military service m western
sion of texts in culrurally dubious contexts, rest as- China combines romance with some absolutely great
sured, just some recommendations. battle scenes. Watch this for the almost unearthly land-
Journey to the West 1s a Blood & Silk chronicle scapes of the high deserts and mouncains.
ready to go. le tells how a Buddhist monk sought out Yojimbo. This story takes place several centuries
scriptures to bring home co his people and how Monkey after che era Blood & Silk covers, bur its t;!:,scnce applies
King found enlightenment, among other matters. nonetheless. A lone man with mysterious background
Romance of the Three Kingdoms deals with the and no name comes into town, confronts adversity and
fall of the Han dynasty in the rh1rd century CE. It gets everyone who deserves it slaughtered. Along the
features Cao Cao, one of rhe great villains of Chinese way, more than a few complications ensue. The Man
literature, the absolutely perfect brilliant and amoral With No Name is a powerful archetype, and chis is his
general. Liu Ban, heir to the fallen dynasty, leads his definitive presentation.
motley band in war and peace, and many remarkable
/

--
- \
,,

CHRP?EK ons:
HUnCW'I DEAD DY
?HE M%DDtE
t<%nl:DDM The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must
divide. Thus has it ever been.
- Luo Guanzhong, Romance of the Three Kingdoms

Wan Ku.ei scholars uncovered the following seven docu, Nevertheless, my ancestors and contemporaries glance
ments after the destruction of che short-lived Hall of the Black backward to the glorious days of the Third Age while the
Tortoise in Karakorum. Wan Kuei penned most of these Fourth Age pushes gallingly onward. Before they get into
documents, but the cache also included a seemingly purloined the habit of looking forward, I imagine that some of them
report from a Nezumi rat-changer to his Beast Court. To- will trip and fall.
gether, they paint a vivid picture of life, both mortal and Indeed, many already have.
immortal, at the end of the Fourth Age, during the time of To the reader, welcome. I am Lu Fen, Third Archivist
Southern Song dynasty in China (what Westemers would call of the Yellow Emperor, South Wind of the Flitting Hum-
the end of the 12th century of the common era) . Appended to mingbird wu and a Demon of Linan, the richest and most
several of these documents, most especially the two written by glorious city of the Song Empire. I serve the ancestors of
a disciple of the Court of Linan named Lu Feng, were the Court of the Yellow Emperor, a role 1 have filled since
commentaries by several prominent Wan Ku.ei of the time. my Second Breath some 20 years ago. The sheaf you hold
is intended co bring you, presumably a hin rrying co join
fiACHJ..c;s 0 .. THE our society, into a full awareness of our true nature and
history. Some ofit-such as the historical treatise I wrote
"1c;trrf'EOPll just before reaching disciple status - is rather poorly
written; though I was a scholar in life, I have since had
A Treatise by Lu Feng, South Wind of the Flitting
decades to refine my art. Take from it what you can.
Hummingbird Wu
The world is not as it once was, and we are not as we Tu F"ALUt(
once were. Many am ong us refuse to accept this as fact,
and I do not exaggerate when I say that by doing so they It is undoubtedly already clear to you that you are a.
put their bodies and souls at risk. A three-year-old mortal monster; surely you remember some of your ti me in Yom i
child would not walk forward while looking backward, for Wan, the Thousand Hells. Perhaps you remember some of
he knows that he wou ld come co harm in the attempt. the torment dispensed by the minions of the Yama Kings,
the hells' overlords. Bue you have many questions.
12 ______________
-:--~~~~----ioiiiiiliiiiiiiiiii ..__~ 8100D ft SflC..
WllA1"'WE- Ait,E- time has given us more Wan Kuei than can easily fit into
We are the Wan Kuei, the Ten Thousand Demons. a hundred families of five.
We are born of mortal women, we live our lives as mortal Each wu lives within the confines of one of the five
men and women, and we die and go to Hell. August Courts. In the northern lands of Xixia, Jin,
Something drives us to Yomi Wan. No man finds Manchu and the barbarian tribes, the unlivingobey the
himself in the Thousand Hells without belonging there. dictates of the Court of the Black Tortoise. To the east,
Perhaps one is a vicious killer; perhaps another aban- the blood,drinking warlords ofNihon and Koryo dance
cloned his familial duties to live in the city with the a delicate circle around one another in the Court of the
immoral and the unjust. Each of us broke the eternal Azure Dragon. The jungles of the south bear witness to
laws in some fashion while alive and was cursed to Hell the screams of mortals at the hands of the demons of the
as punishment. Court of the Scarlet Phoenix. The Court of the White
Bur strength brings us back. We are unwilling to Tiger dominates the west, and all pay heed to the Court
remain in the hands of the Yama Kings, and our wills are of the Yellow Emperor in Changan, the heart of the
strong, so we return to the lands above. We stride into Middle Kingdom.
our mortal bodies, take the Second Breath and return to In tum, the ancestors of each area host their own
the living world. We are the strongest of the dead; the courts. While the ancestors ofLinan, for instance, are part
common thief does not have sufficient fortitude to of the Court of the Yellow Emperor, it is rare indeed that
withstand the torment of Yomi Wan and still shout "I the court imposes its dictates directly on a city's Wan
will not bow!" Kuei. The eldest and wisest among us dominate the Five
And so we escape the Yama Kings, but our defiance- August Courts; in a perfect world, their merest sugges-
"l will not bow!" - can only take us so far. The August tions would be seen as law by those less enlightened. This
Personage of Jade has cursed us for our predecessors' is no perfect world, but ir is rare for the ancestors of a
madness, and his strength far outmatches ours. We can- region to come into open conflict with each other or the
not stand the light of the sun; we must steal life from rulers of their August Court. When it does come, it is
mortals to remain part of th is world; and our dark soul, our terrifying indeed
P'o, has gained a voice. Some Wan Kuei are predisposed toward warfare,
I lied a moment ago. You will find, student, that while others prefer subtler means of resolving disagree-
your elders lie to you every day. Sometimes, they wish ments. The Grand Arhat Xue, in his travels thousands of
to hide the truth, and other times, they wish to teach yearsago,distilledtheessenceofWanKueiexistenceinto
you to hear lies and seek truth. I lie because it aids my five Dharmic paths. Those who see strength and courage
narrative. We did not escape the Yama Kings, at least inbattle,forinstance,tendtowardtheDevil-TigerDharma
not if their demon servants are to be believed. They let (although I have seen warriors on all five paths).
us leave Yomi Wan, because we serve their desires Xuecreated-orperhapsdiscovered-fiveDharmic
better here in the world than in Hell. However, true paths near the end of the Third Age. The Resplendent
demons lie even more frequently than Wan Kuei do; I Cranes are Wan Kuei of honor and justice, while the
do not believe that the Yama Kings simply let us leave vampiresoftheHowloftheDevil-Tigerseekmasteryover
their domain. the world through their inner demons. Vampires of the
Whatever the truth may be, we can never entirely Song of the Shadow Dharma (also called Bone Dancers)
escape the Lords of Hell. We would make good servants seek solace in the tranquility of death, while Thrashing
and better slaves; the Yama Kings may tempt you with Dragons exalt the echo of life we retain. And the Thou-
promises of power or threaten your existence in order sand Whispers Dharma attempts to balance these polar
to acquire your services. We call those of the Wan Kuei extremes, not by denying any of them, but by embracing
who serve the Yama Kings akuma, and they have no them all, over time.
place in our society. Do not bring an accusation of The Resplendent Cranes and Devil-Tigers stand
trafficking with the Yama Kings without proof, for a opposite each other, the Cranes to the north and the
false claim of such corruption is likely to mean your Tigers to the south. The C ranes pursue the dictates of
own destruction. Akuma are strong, hide well and are the Hun, the higher, nobler impulse in each Wan Kuei.
thankfully rare. The Howl of the Devil-Tiger follows the drive of theP' o,
Our society is a simple one, stitched together at the the raging, animal impulse. This does not prevent mem-
lowest level and leaving decision-making power in the hers of the two Dharmas from getting along; indeed,
hands ofthe eldest and wisest ancestors. When your elders each typically possesses insights that can aid the other.
deem you, a hin, worthy, they shall assign you to awu, or Similarly, Thrashing Dragons and Bone Dancers align
corpse family. Like the mortals all around us, we put great as opposites, though they are not enemies. The Thrashing
stock in the value of ancient, established families. TheBai Dragons stand to the east and are clad in the strength of
Shi ]ia (Hundred Corpse Families) are the oldest, most Yang, the male impulse, the energy of life. The Bone
powerful wu in the Middle Kingdom, but the passing of Dancers are in the west direction; they draw their strength
u
from the Yin impulse, the female-oriented energy ofdeath ~----------------- ....
--------~~~
and drowned it. Such rragedies were common in the Age
and decay. of Legends, for the loves of the Wan Xian could shake the
The Thousand Whispers Dharma occupies the cen heavens. The immortals warred over which mortal they
ter of this cross. A properly balanced wu will consist of loved or hated, which child they most adored and whom
a Wan Kuei from each direction, though circumstances they would marry. Those were fiery days.
sometimes prevent this. Unbalanced wu rarely last for The Wan Xian were as wise as they were passionate.
long, as internal and external stresses will shear such a TheAugusrPersonage ofJadetookchewisestoftheminto
group apart. Heaven to serve him directly, and he left doorways in the
world for mortals to join the ranks of the immortals.
Perhaps it was in chis chat the August Personage planted
the seeds of our ancestors' downfall. He did not handpick
the new immortals; any mortal who could pass the trials
he placed in the world gained the power of the Wan Xian.
The few ancestors I speak to about chis time period
tell of sadness and loss and slowly dying rage. The Wan
Xian integrated the newcomers into their sociery, and as
more of the eldest immortals were taken to Heaven to
directly serve the August Personage, the younger gen
From the Commentaries of Li Citan: erations rose co positions ofleadership and respect. With
TME URITER SPEAHS ONLY os:- FIVE , eachsuccessivecentury,fewerofcheCelestialEmperor's
0HARMAS. OUT HE I S MIS TAHEN IN TMINHING handpicked immortals rema ined in the world.
TMAT THOSE ARE THE ONLY ONES THAT EHIST. This cycle repeated itself over thousands of years,
MOST CHINESE WAN i(UEI AGREE THAT ONLY until the wise kings of the Wan Xian gave way co lusry
s.{uE S FIVE PATMS MOLD TME PATM TO despots. Scholars who once searched for hidden poetic
S ALVATION. OUT OTHER. HERETICAi. 0HARMAS meaning in the fall of rain plumbed the depths of Yomi
EHIST ANO SEEM TO HEEP THEIR PRACTITIONERS Wan for secret black magics and stole the C hi of mortals
AT I.E AST A STEP AOOVE n n: C:ANNIDAl.ISTIC: and servants of the Celestial Bureaucracy. The August
C UIU - H1. Per onage of Jade had created tests across the world to
ensure that only the strongest, most moral and cleverest
could cast off the chains of mortality, but unethical
At the beginning of chis lesson, I stated that we are mortals subverted his true intentions and "solved" the
not as we once were. When the August Personage ofJade tests without rruly proving themselves worthy.
created che universe thousands of years ago, he granted Finally, Tien Lu plucked the last blossom from the
the most worthy humans immortality and vast power. Tree of Immortality and three of the four remaining
These were known as the Wan Xian, the Ten Thousand original Wan Xian, resigned to the coming fire, strode
Immortals. They could move mountains, it is said. They into Heaven before the August Personage of Jade levied
had the wisdom of gods and the beautiful spiraling music his curse upon the rest of the T en Thousand Immortals.
of the heavens followed chem as they strode across the They became the Wan Kuei, the Ten Thousand Demons.
earth.
Consider the tragic love of Wang Yuanfeng and Yu From the Commentaries of Lun Ouran:
Xiaocui. Beautiful and wise immortal Xiaocui fell in love many refuse to speal\ of ;t, but when the Auqust
with Wang Yuanfeng, the farmer's son, even though he Permnoqe of Jade beqan to cmt hi\ rune down on
was an idiot, barely capable of speech. Xiaocui loved him the Won Xian. four of the ~rst chosen immortals
enough to heal his mind and usher him through the tests remained In theworld. Three of those entered Heaven
the August Personage demanded of those who wished to before the rune was complete and so were spared.
become immortal. She brought him into the great family The fourth. Boo Zhonq. entered Yomi Won instead
of the Wan Xian, and their love brought joy to the very and so woi also spored - or so it seemed. Bao Zhonq
stones of the earth. fouqht several bottles aqainst the Yoma Kings and
After two centuries, the dragon princess Cai Wai their servants; a~er countless years of ~qhtinq. he
lured Yuanfengaway from his eternal love, and Yu Xiaocu i's dedored himself o Yomo King and his new realm the
weeping drove hundreds ofstars to extinguish themselves Hell of flever-Dyinq \orrow.
in the sea from sorrow. And when Xiaocui, overcome by Remember alway\ that even the qreotest con foll.
jealousy, srruck at Cai Wai, Wang Yuanfeng declared war Lu Fenq ihould be cautiom in his wntinqt how-
on his former lover. Like many wars among the Wan Xian, ever. To mention the children is tactless and without
this one caused great hardship. Using the rivers and seas enliqntenment flever repeat such storie\; they ore
of the Kingdom of Fu Yi as weapons against one another, better le~ in the post
Wang Yuanfengand Yu Xiaocui flooded theDiyang Plain
14 ILOOD &! SIU:.
~~~~~-------------------------~
At first only a subtle change came: The August whirling of the Cosmic Wheel. They may be right. The
Personage of Jade's tests - which had previously be- most learned among them say that the Wheel is greater
stowed immortality - twisted in on themselves and than even the Celestial Emperor; for the universe to
became part of Yomi Wan. Where once a mortal might return to a state of unity and joy, it must first traverse the
have to travel to the land of the wisest forest spirits and howling chasm of the Demon Emperor's reign.
gain their favor, now that mortal had to die with wick- That is not to say that many Wan Kuei look forward
edness on his soul and escape the Hell of the Burning to the next age. The Yama Kings and their akuma slaves
Forest with his sanity intact. The Ten Thousand De- realize that with the closing of the Fourth Age, the world
mons did not breathe, and they had to steal Chi or is sliding their way. As their confidence grows, they
succumb to death. become bolder, sometimes striking at Wan Kuei that
At once, two groups formed among the Wan Kuei. wronged them in the past or whom they see as future
The wisest, those who had chosen to follow a Dharmic antagonists. Other Yama Kings prefer to subvert and
path to enlightenment, were able to keep their wits about corrupt the plans and allies of powerful Wan Kuei. The
them in the face of suffocating hunger. The most arrogant Yama Kings do remain circumspect even in light of this
of the Wan Kuei, who had enmeshed themselves in the increased confidence; they know that to act openly too
mundane world, had no spiritual anchor to hold onto as soon is to risk a massed attack by the Wan Kuei or the
dreams of blood flooded over them. beastly Xiong Ren.
Today we would call those latter Wan Kuei chih-mei. The Yama Kings often lay their snares for the young-
They were fantastically powerful chih-mei, of course, un- est Wan Kuei, the so-called Running Monkeys who put
like the newly reborn Wan Kuei of the modern day. The the least stock in the oldest stories. They were lied to
philosophers and poets who kept their minds had no about the true nature of the world throughout their lives,
choice but to slaughter these maddened monsters that and in all likelihood, they were lied to at least once by
some had once called friends. elder, ostensibly wiser Wan Kuei in the time after their
death. Such a prematurely jaded soul is more likely to
From the Commentaries of Dan Xiang: believe the lies and power fantasies of the Yama Kings
Nor A.TI~ tlt6 \]k.Mt chil1-.v1e1 &N6Kt. sl.,.\111. l than an older vampire might be.
bel+tve thA.t SO.Al1'6 Of O\.t~<te~, ACTII'\\] O\llt of
~i$t)"1icf-e,c:f ~~.AS5io.-y if~ fofc..v)el(. lo~ SHDS OF Col(FLJCT'
11'\fo 1i1-e wil<t_~-ess oK ~~ \11'\<4-e~~Ko\111'\.c:J Most vampires resist the temptations of the Yama
ro.the" rliAI'\ ~11;~~ tlie~AI'\)" .ot rt-iose. Kings, or the Middle Kingdom would be awash inakuma.
1'1101'\ST~KS r!T 5~1W-; ~f;Ave \1A1J.\.e4 se.1f- But even those who ignore the demon lords' seductive
COl'\nwL wt11J.e ~ il'\SAl'\~ltt;r<Ave VBl'\\]-t-Al'\Ct. lies spend some time in rebellion against the elders of
OKA ~st-e<t so~of A(o~KOY.Al fKO.v1 m~H~.101'\\} their court or wu. Unlike willful children, rebellious
A.\}0 co"'1ro.c:f-es. ~rm ott-ie."5 k~ve b-eco.v1-t. Running Monkeys are neither testing their limits nor
\kl1icles fo" ~ <yA.v\A ~il'\\]S' .v\Mhil'\ATiOl'\S selfishly demanding unearned privileges: Many of them
..\~..\i1'\5t~. "40R.TA1 "'1of<lc:f;-ri%<yA.v1.A'Kil'\\JS'f0"1
simply desire to be treated like the competent adults
~"' Al'\c:f 1ZAl'\<Jc:fA ~Ave 1\1~-e<t Wi-e.s~c~Al\11<:.es'
they were before their deaths. And unlike parents, the
AA~-t- il'\ro tols ovt-lit, rl1-e h.st few elders of a court or wu are rarely uncertain about the
~f\1~i-e-s. 'fh-e.s-e. .AK'f. cfAl'\t)~f<0"1S he.ASl5, Al'\~ 1
proper course of action to take in confronting such a
'1A~ lost t1111<1 "'1\.i.-.v)At-e.s to ~. rebellion, whether that reaction is to let the young
vampires work out their anger or to stamp out such
w lt&T WJu. .SE displays from the earliest moments. To the dismay of the
From the time we emerge as hin, we learn of the Great typical Running Monkey, the elder is more often right
Cycle ofthe Ages: The world began in a state ofperfection than wrong, which explains why that elder is further
and unity with the August Personage of Jade and has along in his Dharmic path than the disciple.
grown ever more corrupt with the passing oftime. The fall After the Age turned from Third to Fourth, five Wan
of the Wan Xian turned the Wheel from the Third to the Kuei emperors constructed their courts in different cor-
Fourth Age thousands of years ago, and the time may be ners of the Middle Kingdom. Each court allows for differ-
coming for the Great Wheel to turn again. ent ways for its subjects to settle their differences: The
We are no longer the terrified and starving monsters Black Tortoise Wan Kuei engage in tests of endurance,
we were early in this age; instead, we are confident and while the Scarlet Phoenix subjects perform artistic com-
powerful. The younger Wan Kuei turn their gaze forward petitions for the pleasure of the Yang Spirits of the south.
to the Fifth and Sixth Ages and the rise of the Demon Conflict between the courts is not so easily handled,
Emperor, even as the eldest stare backward. and Wan Kuei from any given court are typically free to
Some elders believe it will be possible to regain the wage night war on other courts' members. Treaties do
favor of the August Personage and, in so doing, stop the arise, of course, and not every incursion leads to open
hostility. The Emperors of the Five August Courts make
15
~----------------..,_--..-....-~~~~
rexc cannot do justice co the wide range of bemgs who
From the Commentaries of Li Citan: might cross paths with the Ten Thousand Demons or to
RcmN. nus IS UTTER NONSENSE. L.u fEN their motivations; for every Hakken werewolf who craves
HRS REPUDIATED IT IN CONVERSATION l.JITH revenge for his ancestors' humiliation in the Fourth Age
M E. HE lJROTE MUCH OF THE LAST SECTION there is another whose criminal pawns' interests are
' IN ORDER TO CURRY J:'AVOR WITH HIS MEN - incompatible with a particular wu's activities.
TOR. WHO URS ODSS:SSEO l.JITH PRECISION
ANO UITH CORRECTING THE ERRORS OF HIS T"HE CtifLD".lt( orTM ~~
STUDENTS. Hu; FEELINGS ON THE MATTER. More than 2,000 years ago, during the fall of the
AS l.JE SPUME. ARE: AS FOLLOl.JS : Shang dynasry to the Zhou, a mortal named Yi, the
~THE ELDER IS NOT MORE OFTEN RIGHT Excellent Archer, led a group of mystic warriors known as
TMAN 1.JRONG. THE ELDER HAS A MORE PER - the Shih to war against the Wan Kuei. His people truly
FECT UNDER S TANDING OF HIS DI.JN llHARMA formed an impressive force; hundreds of men and women
ANO THE I.JAY IN WHICH HIS SOUL INTERACTS were driven co action in response to the violence our kind
WITH THAT DHARMA.S CORE TENETS. Hou- did unto theirs. Many of the Shih were Yi's descendants,
EVER. SOME El.DEAS CHOOSE TO LIVE ON and therefore, we often refer to them as the Children of
MOUNTAINTOPS AND CONTEMPLATE THEM - the Archer. Yi himself is famed for extinguishing nine
SELVES RATHER THAN FACE TME DAY- TO - false suns created by the Scarlet Phoenix Court in an
DAY UNLIVES IN l.JHICH . MERE. RUNNING MoN - attempt to bum their enemies among the Court of the
MEYS EMORDIL THEMSELVES. Rt..TERNATEt.Y. Yellow Emperor from the world. ln a rypically grandiose
CONSIDER TH E EMAMPLE OJ:' THE WIZENED and careless gesture of revenge, the Phoenix Wan Kuei
AND ACCLAIMED DONE DANCER WHO IS AP - had decided that risking the deaths of thousands, or even
PROACHED FOR ADVICE IN A MATTER OF THE millions, of mortals was nor too great a cost to visit their
p ' 0 . IT DOES NOT NECESSARILY S:-Ot.LOU THAT vengeance upon the other fallen immortals.
HIS HNOWLEUGE OJ:' YIN IS APPt..ICRDt..E TO In saving humanity, of course, Yi saved us, and for
QUESTIONS OF TME DEMON NATURE. RcE DOES that, it might be thought that we owe his descendants
NOT NECESSARILY CORRESPOND 1.JITH EN - a debt. But they have surely invalidated that debc
LIGHTENMENT: POUER AND l.JISOOM DO NOT t hrough their relentless pursuit of shen throughout the
ACCRU E NATURALLY OVER TIME. Middle Kingdom. The Shih live in the distant wilder
ness, t raining only a few students at a time; they enter
the cities only to hunt their favored prey, the Wan
sure not ro openly wage war upon one another. Many
Kuei. And chis they do exceedingly well, with an
Wan Kuei claim that outright war among the Five August
efficiency that makes us wonder if they are not some
Courts will be a sure sign of the Fifth Age.
how the pawns of another force.
When W~m Kuei make war on one another, we are
cagey about our actions. We are immortal, after all, and T"HE Fi".OCJOUS .PEOPa..
not one of us wishes co throw away the eterniry before us Lf only the Xiong Ren- the Ferocious People, whom
on a moneymaking scheme or revenge plot. We plan N ihonjin call hengeyokai-didn't pay so much attention
carefully; we use cultivated and obedienr mortals - or t0 their ancestor-spirits. Then they would forget what the
cultivated and obedient Running Monkeys- co attack a Wan Xian of old did. They wouldn't sit around their
foe's material resources. Often, a simple building fire is forsaken campfires in the middle of the wilderness, listen-
enough co remind another demon not co trifle with one's ing to their elders talk about how the jealous Ten Thou
propeny; sometimes, the price becomes much higher. sand Immortals set the Xiong Ren at each other's throats.
ln recent years reports have trickled to the Court of And how even if the August Personage did curse them,
che Yellow Emperor from the White Tiger and Black the ancestor-spirits still call out for revenge.
Tortoise Courts, reports of other creatures, vampires who But we do keep trying to shut them up.
are clearly not Wan Kuei. They may be the inheritors of
Dozens of species of Ferocious People walk tbe
the first chih,mei; rhey could be the children ofZao-lat, the
M iddle Kingdom. I believe chat there is now or has once
disgraced disciple who stole wisdom from Xue, or they
been a shapechanger for every animal that swims, flies or
might even be the harbingers of the Fifth Age.
crawls across the world. From proud tiger~rnen to crafty
fox~folk, the creatures fairly infest the wilderness, and
T"'H0~s some, like the rats, even encroach on the cities. I am told
In the ranks of rhe shen, the supernatural beings of the that, much as the Wan Kuei maintain che Five August
Middle Kingdom, few suffer more ire than the Wan Kuei. Courts, the Xiong Ren have Beast Courts of their own.
Members of nearly every other race in the world wish to In general, however, I must plead ignorance with respect
do us harm, and in the case of a few shen, the majority to these creatures.
desires the destruction of the Wan Kuei. The following
16

ffs/8' ~AMA-~c;s
The hsien, like the Xiong Ren, greatly mistrust the The Yama Kings are our oldest enemies; as some
Ten Thousand Demons. And rightly so, for what race mandarin would have it, rhey are our only true enemies,
could forgive those who caused the Celestial Emperor to and the rest of our conflicts are nothing but internecine
erect a Wall between the mortal and spirit worlds? The squabbling fostered by them. The lords of Yomi are
hsien, once funcuonaries and servants of the Celestial indescribably powerful - only the most an.dent
Courts, arc trapped in the Middle Kingdom now, cursed bodhisatrvas could even give thought ro vanq uishing a
for actions that they themselves did not take. The most Yama King single-handedly, and dozens of wu have been
excicable of che hsien would 1ike nothing more than ro lost attempting to slay even weak demon kings.
destroy all of the Wan Kuei, bum all of the cities and be The Yama Kings seem most concerned with jockey-
done with it. ing for position among themselves; according to proph-
Not all hsien. are irrational; a Wan Kuei reborn in the ecy, one of them will stand alone as Demon Emperor in
last few years is not going to earn the ire of a wise old the Sixth Age. Each Yama King gathers re:;ources and
monkey-spirit who knows that the young vampire is not attempts co undermine his peers' attempts to do the same,
personally responsible for the creation of the Wall. But in preparation for that fateful day. Some, additionally,
the hsien generally feel that they should never allow the wish revenge on the Throne of Heaven for their exile to
Wan Kuei to come into great poweragain. ln the words of Hell and will go co great lengths co punish us, rhe one-time
an old friend, the cat-hsien Oitan Poon: "We may come to servanrs of their enemy.
trust you individually again, but let us never forget that,
as a group, you broke the universe. This isnotmerelyacrime k_UM&-
bur an indescribable transgression. We might forgive, but Though each akttma is an individual, there are
we shall never forger, and we shall never again allow you three general types of akuma who find satisfacnon in
such an opportunity." interfering with the Wan Kuei. The first and most
Thus, a hsien m ightnot attack Wan Kuei immediately common is the Loyal Minion: This vampire slave be-
but will watch to put a stone in the gears of a vampire's lieves strongly that every man needs a master and has
plans. AJ.1y Wan Kuei who has survived his first century is chosen a Yama King as his. The Loyal Min ion attacks
likely to remember watching one of his grand schemes for the W an Kuei out of duty to his liege lord. Younger
power dissolve around him like sugar in a rainstorm Loyal Minions might have no idea what their lord's
thanks to the machinations of hsien. plan 1 , but as they grow olJer and savvier, they may
17
~------------------~------~~~~
to attain is a pale reflection of my teachers' lessons, for at
my young age, 1 cannot hope co have acquired such
brilliance for myself.
The history of the Wan Kuei has been chronicled by
those far older than I - The Green Book of the First
Historian of the Azure Dragon Court 1s surely the pre-
eminent work of our collective chronology, but its hun,
dreds of volumes and the dreadful mien of the First
Hiscorian render it inaccessible ro those such as myself. I
shall, therefore, gather together the tales and scrolls
provided to me sin ce l took the Second Breath and
present them as follows.

Tu Ff-.sr Ac;1-
The First Age, according to the very oldest among us,
was a time of perfection and harmon y in oneness with all
things. There were no Yama Kings, no Wan Xian, no
mortals. All things were one in the person of the Augusc
Personage of Jade. The ancestors refer co this time as the
Age of Heaven. Ir was the last rime that the universe had
become privy to more secrets or may simply get better
a single will; there were no competing desires and there
at piecing together their liege's motivations.
was no conflict. This was truly the Age of Heaven.
The second kind of akuma is the Aggressive Inde-
pendent. This half-demo n has decided that the Yama
Kings arc certainly the side of winners in the great From the Commentaries of Lun Ouran:
celestial war between Heaven and Hell, and he attempts This seems to be an ou\pidous place to note that
to create a favorable impression on several Yama Kings few oqree on predse dates for the tuminq of anyAqe.
by his daring activ1cy against his former allies. He re- lhere ore those - few. and probably mad - who
ceives "hie sings" from more than one Yama King but feel that the present day remains a port of the Third
pledges eternal allegiance to n on e of them, hoping to Aqe. Each Tuminq has its siqnposb. and it h diffiOJlt to
remain independent fo r as long as he can. rnd aqreement m to which of them h most meaning-
The third and possibly mostdangerousakuma is the ful. The astute reader may note that indeed. there are
Secretive Cultist. The Secretive C ultist is dedicated to those who believe that the Fifth Aqe beqon with the
furthering the cause of a particular Yama King and may fall of Koifenq to the Jin. 70 years aqo. most of us do
have received a devilish investment or two from his not oqree.
secret liege but most likely has not. The Secretive
Culust works w expand the Yama King's power and
influence without letting it become commonly known Tu SKOt(D Af;1-
that h e is akuma. Unfortunately for Wan Kuei culture The Age of Beauty was a t ime of creation and great
at large, the number o f Secretive Cultists is difficult to joy. The August Personage of Jade parted Yang from Yin
even guess at. All estimates suggest that it is thankfully and caused the universe to give birth to the Scarlet Queen
Low, though various courts are quick to suggest that and the Ebon Dragon. These two, the greatest ancestors
other courts have much higher numbers of h idden of all of us, breathed Life into the nascent energies all
akuma. around them; the universe changed from a held breath to
the first mists of realicy.
T"'IR llJSTD"-Y OF THE The Queen and the Dragon brought all thinking
beings mto existence in the Age of Beaucy, so that the
MjDDU- ~l(c;DoM fragments ofcreation could better appreciate the splendor
of the Ten Thousand Things. Gods, spirits, hsien, Xiong
A Treatise by Lu Feng, hin in the Court of Linan Ren, dragons and the whole of the Celestial Bureaucracy
Honored and wise masters, I humbly begin chis trea- condensed from Heaven . The Celestial Emperor then
tise in the hopes that tho e more aged and wiser than I will created mortal humans, who were given no particular task
find it worthy. For six years, I have studied under teachers within the Bureaucracy.
of the Emerald Blossom wu and others of the Court of the Some members of the Celestial Bureaucracy aban,
Yellow Emperor, and if my writing abilities are sufficient
cloned their work and slunk offselfishly to fo und their own
to the cask, then I can hope to give adequate description
realms; as these creatures deliberately cut themselves off
to their wisdom. Surely the best my feeble skills can hope
from Heaven's brilliance, chey became degraded and
18 .llOOD It SJU::..
hideous. We now know them as the Yama Kings. The
Yama Kings had no servants of their own, of course, and From the Commentaries of Dan Xiang:
were forced to recruit or enslave mortals and other spirits. 'Two schools of Titl0"1\)~t c:lo"'1il-'\Ate c:liSC"1S-
The mistreatment of mortals and spirits brought the siol-'\ of the:rh"u 9ove!i:_ei\)t\S. 01\-t. school hA.S ir
Yama Kings to the attention ofthe Celestial Emperor, but rftiAtthe Sove"-ei\)l'\S iNPKe.-fuefiR..sr .vio"rA) kil'\\lS
for reasons of his own, he did not strike them down. of rftie 1-1ic:lc:l1-e~il\rJc:j0"'1;tl-JAt"-es~cr ..\f<\c:j lt!Ol\O"
Instead, he created the Wan Xian by elevating 10,000 AK-e c:l1.i1-e ro TI.-1-e..v\ to" tl-ieiK 0KAI\.::! c:le.-ec:ls in_ the
mortals to a state of blessed immortality and great power. fue of ""o"t--'1 weAkl'\ess. 'The otl1-e~ sc!tiools
The Wan Xian were not gods, but they were stronger than Afl:.0\11-es in_sreA.:f rt-JAr 'F\l!)(i, Shel\l'\OI'\\} Al\.:!
any mortal and could perform feats their descendants can }.f 1.i1A.l\\\-ri we"e NAl'\)(iAI'\ K\~1e"5 ""ho ~n.r~
only dream of. The Wan Xian set about ending the n.te,;" "'10t<t~J S\llb[ects \lifts fl<'.:.o.v.1 the. C-elestiAl
depredations of the Yama Kings. 'E.v\~e"o~ 'P!i:_~S"1V\Ably, tl-1-e~v tl-i-e SoveR.-t.i\]l'\S
c:l-ewl?pec:I rue o1~.esr.17isci~li~es we, NAI'\ ~\,lei
Many ofour historians gather stories of the quests that
mortals undertook in order to join the Wan Xian. There ~~cnoe. roc:IAt 1fAll11'\tothef1t<.s1 cA""r l\lorA1l
are common themes in these stories. Mortals had to reach
"'-lt\Ci-t-1'\t ~\l'\c:I tA11s-e "V1le1<:..s wet<:.e NAI\ ><1AI\.
the spirit worlds-a much easier task in those days -and
return safely home. The Dragon and the Queen desired Tu FOu~nt Ac;1
not only the strongest and cleverest of mortals but also the In the aftermath of the fall of the Wan Xian,
wisest and most moral; the trials mortals underwent tested immortal despots and now-undead tyrants succumbed
not only their resolve and stamina but also their capacity to the light of the sun, to ravening hunger and to
for self-sacrifice and ability to think on their feet. Some peasant uprisings. Those who survived fell to warring
humans deliberately set out on a quest to find the secret with one another or disappearing into the wilderness to
to immortality, while humbler ones passed the tests al- search for a way to appease the Celestial Emperor.
most by accident.
Some rare Wan Kuei refused to accept that their
former master had truly cursed them; most of these were
T'""M T'"HJ~D Ac;i noble and ethical immortals who had not abused rheir
In the Age of Legends, kingdoms rose and fell with power over mortals. Other than unconsciously taking
the stars of the Wan Xian. Three Wan Xian kings merit lifesaving precautions against starvation, they carried
special note, however; together they are known as the on as they did in the Third Age, assuming that although
Three Sovereigns. Some scholars consider them to be they heard from the August Personage of] ade less often,
myth; Annals of a Bygone Age suggests otherwise. Al- he still watched over them and intended them to protect
though Wan Kuei historians cannot agree whether the humanity from the depredations of the Yama Kings.
Three Sovereigns were merely Wan Xian or, in fact, gods, These rare stalwarts could hardly resist the tides of
they are certain that the Three did exist. chaos, however. The lands we call China, Koryo and
Fuxi, the first of the Three Sovereigns, taught his Nihon were split into 10,000 petty kingdoms, each one
people to fish and hunt, how to raise cattle and silkworms with its own minor mortal warlord. This situation lasted
and how to build permanent dwellings. Fuxi also created for millennia.
the eight trigrams used for divination with The Book of
Changes; elder texts suggest that he was a master of THE: l:Jt(c;Dolo< or-~
divination magics. Yu the Great, a strong-willed and quick-thinking
Shennong, the second of the Three Sovereigns, mortal king founded the Kingdom of Xia. Numerous
showed his people the plow and weaving and how to leave floods of the Yangtze River troubled much of Yu's reign;
proper sacrifices for the powers ofHeaven. Shennong was accordingly, he created the first real mortal bureaucracy
the first doctor, as well; he taught the healing arts to many the world had ever seen, to organize his subjects to build
of his subjects and is said to have died resting a plant for dikes and otherwise fight floods. Yu's subjects called
medicinal properties. their sovereign "The Great Engineer" due to his skill at
Huang-ti was the third of the Three Sovereigns. He designing these new dikes and irrigation canals
was the first alchemist and the first shipwright. He also That bureaucracy's control over the great river al-
developed armor and the earliest armies, in order to lowed Yu and his subjects to irrigate their fields through
suppress barbarian tribes that threatened his people. the dry season. This allowed for a population explosion
Despite the teachings of the Three Sovereigns and during the Xia era, an event welcomed by the Wan Kuei
the wisdom of their successors, no earthly force could stop and fought by the Xiong Ren.
the fall of the Wan Xian; for their folly, the King of The Xia took great stock in the advice ofsupernatural
Heaven himselfcursed them. Thus did the Third Age end creatures, whether they be the representatives of the
and the Fourth begin. Beast Courts or the hsien (few Xia kings risked trusting the
Wan Kuei). Ambassadors from the Ferocious People tried
Cum~ O: ~~'Duo Of'Tlll MjDDU ~DOM @ ,,
co exert enough influence co keep the mortal population vigor, but the Shaog had cighter discipline, as well as
in check, but the kings of the Xia knew that they could no better arms and armor.
more keep morcals from mating than they could the Sun In the end, the Zhou forces were victorious. Fa re-
from setting. Eventually, the Xia ktngs grew complacent named himself King Wu ("martial king"); his lace father
and corrupt- some say under the mfluence of the Wan Xibai, to whom King Wu piously showed great reverence,
Kuei - and the dynasty collapsed. was posthumously renamed King Wen ("cultured king")
m commemoration ofhts humility and skillful diplomacy.
TM SHANc; D'ftl&STY King Wu and his younger brother, the Duke ofZhou,
The Shang were a civilized people residing in what we spenc the rest of their lives trying to impose a heavenly
now call Shandong. They worked bronze to make weap- order on a chaotic Earth. Wisely and beneficendy, the
ons, armor and beautiful works of art; they used human rulers bestowed tides and fiefs of land on their own
and animal bones to prophesy the future; and they per- extended family, those who had aided them in the con-
formed human sacrifice. The Shang invented writing, quest of the Shang and those Shang nobles who had not
and all civilized people use the Shang pictograms (in hindered them in their quest for power. In each fief, one
somewhat d ifferent forms) today. No nomads, the Shang family was designated as the ruler of the land, and minis-
built cities along the coast and rivers and brough t hunters terial and counsel positions were distributed similarly: In
and gatherers inro the welcoming arms of agriculture and one duchy, the eldest male member of the Fa family would
farming. They were also the first mortals co make use of hold the Min istry of Agriculture, just as the eldest male
jade in jewelry, weaponry and magic. member of the Weizei family held the Duke's palace.
The Shang flourished for six centuries; when the Some 250 years into the Zhou dynasty, barbarians
dynasty fell at the hands of peasants and minor nobility, raided the capital and killed the king. When the dust
chaos came upon Chma for almost a century. settled, the royal family had resettled in the eastern part
of the kingdom, leaving the one-time royal domain in the
From the Commentaries of Li Citan: hands of the Qin peoples.
TME SMIM DEMON HUNTERS INSIST THAT ~ H ~torians refer to the time after the capital's move as
IT URS THEIR GREAT RNCS.:STOR. Yt. UMO the "Eastern Zhou" period. It in rum is well described by
DROUGMT DOUN A DEMONICRLLY con- two volumes, The Spring and Autumn Annals and The
RUPT DYNASTY . OUT TMEN. TMEY ALSO Strategy of rhe Warring Scares, each of which gives its name
RELI E VE TMRT THE GREAT DRAGON l{UNC to part of the period. By now, the Zhou dynasty had passed
l{UNC DROUGMT A MURRI CANS.: ACROSS TM:E its peak; the wise and benevolent emperors ofthe dynasty's
TRHLR MAHAN UMEH HS: OURS: YI INTO early years were long dead, and it was a long fall into the
ORTTLS.: RGAINT TM:E YAMA 1{1NGS AND chaos of anarchy.
THE CORRUPT SHANC . T he Spring and Autumn period was a time of great
wisdom, both among philosophers and common folk. The
mortal philosopher Laotze learned some of di.e secrets of
Yin and Yang Chi from the Wan Kuei; he codified what
The Zhou people descend from a figure they call
he learned (often misinterpreting and overextending his
Qi, who caught himself ro farm and fish as a child and
understanding) into the code of ethics and behavior
who became minister co an emperor of the Xia dynasty.
mortals call the Tao. Confucius and Buddha both lived
They were a proud tribal people, who allied with the
during the Spring and Autumn period; Confucius's phi-
Shang only in an equal partnership.
losophies cook hold in China right away, while the teach-
The people of Qi arose in the remains of the Xia ings of the Buddha cook many years to leave their home-
Kingdom; their nauon, Zhou, was a wealthy one ruled by land co the wesc. And the Legalise school - which holds
clever and charismatic kings. Zhou paid tribute to the that the state must be more powerful than its subjects -
Shangdynast:y, forQi'sdescendantswereChinese vassals. served only co hasten the fall of the Zhou during the
But as the centuries passed, the Kingdom of Zhou Warring States period. It gave tacit encouragement to
attracted its own followers. Five cenruries into the kings' urges to ruthlessly put down peasant rebellion,
Shang dynasty, Xiba1, the King of Zhou, had arbitrated which only brought about greater uprisings until the Zhou
impartially over a number of disputes between his fellow dynasty collapsed into a handful of feuding nations. lt
rulers and gained a sterling reputation as an honorable would be 200 years before China was finally unified under
man. The king of Zhou became an irritant to the over- her first, greatest emperor.
lords of the Shang, who briefly imprisoned him. Not The eldest Wan Kuei still active tonight hail from
long after he was released, his son, Fa, led an anny of this era; while rumors persist of vampires chat remember
Zhou soldiers and soldiers from the kingdoms of his the Third Age, it does not seem possible that such millen-
father's allies to march on the Shang capital, a now- nia-old creatures could still exist on the face of the world.
vanished city near Anyang. An epic battle ensued; the Either they have ascended to a state of true enlightenment
Zhou forces were more numerous and fought with greater
20~~~~___...._.............iiiiiiiiliil_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _~

and rejoined the Celestial Emperor in Heaven, descended As King of the Qin, Shihuangdi sent his armies to
to a state of true debasement and now stand beside the conquer his neighbors and rivals. As the Qin conquered
Yama Kings, or they have been destroyed. nearby kingdoms, they oppressed the new subjects; they
slew the adult male populations of whole villages to
From the Commentaries of Lun Ouran: ensure that no rebellion would arise and destroyed forti-
As Is the lot of the young. Lu Feng maKesmsump- fications that could be used to defend against the Qin in
hons instead of drawing conduslom. f..le hears of an insurrection. Finally, more than 20 years after
Laotze speaKing of Yin and Yang and assumes he stole Shihuangdi became king, he conquered his final rival and
such Knowledge ~om the Ten Thoumnd Demons. declared himself Emperor of the Qin.
Could it not be that Laotze glimpsed the truth under Qin Shihuangdi followed the Legalise doctrine,
Heaven just m Xue did?That we stole his terminology which states that, in order for the state to function
because it was even more sMlful than that in the properly, the text of law must be applied with precision
ancient haja scripts? That is how I remember it. and impartiality; any deviation from the written law is a
Alm, he sees no qodliKe anceston and so assumes deviation from the will of the king, and such a thing is
that none of us remember the Third Age. We do. my unthinkable. Shihuangdi went about applying the law
contemporaries do retreat from the world. the ror with unparalleled harshne~s, slaughtering the old aris-
world now changes too rapidly for most of us. am an tocracy to eliminate the privilege of birth, conscripting
advanced student of the Thousand Whispen Dharma; laborers for state projects and imposing the death pen-
rapid change is constancy and dillneH. The modem alty for many trivial crimes. All the while, the Qin
world is somewhat frightening to the very oldest of us armies expanded the empire.
- a sentiment I am sure will amuse the young. Vast. Beyond military victory and Legalise dogma,
crowded dhes; explos-ive weapons: a far larger em- Shihuangdi's regime improved the nation's structure,
pire than we Knew in our youth; and the Fifth Age on laying out a radiating system of roads, unifying weights
the far horizon: These things do not contribute to a and measures and standardizing coinage and the writing
feeling of security. system. As well, the Qin built the G reat Wall across the
Yet at the same Hme. we have seen this before. northern reaches of the state. The G reat Wall served a
War on all sides. rampaging barbarians ~om the dual purpose: to protect the empire from the northern
north. dvil uprisings in the peripheral states. con~id barbarians and to make it nearly impossible for peasants to
omonq the FiveAuqust Courts. This is theway of thinqs. escape northward out of the empire's reach.
In the eighth year of the empire, Shihuangdi began
T""Hli ~ IMP'"-1: to systematically suppress unacceptable academic
T he first Emperor of China was a bushy-bearded, thought. A scholar suggested to the openly cruel em-
scowling son of the Qin called Shihuangdi. He had the peror that he should obey the dictates of Confucius more
good fortune to come to power at a time when the rival closely. Not only was the scholar's advice ignored, not
kingdoms around Qin were extraordinarily weak; in the only was the scholar punished, not only were all classical
20 years before Shihuangdi became emperor, there were works not from the Qin burned- but the death penalty
four famines and a pestilence in the surrounding lands. was instituted as a punishment for discussing classical
H is ascension was taken as a sign from Heaven. works in conversation or referring to them when criticiz-
ing imperial policy. To the surprise of few in the super-
From the Commentaries of Li Citan: natural community, a number of scholars and historians
I "AVE LATELY "Enno TALES T"AT T"E joined the ranks of the Wan Kuei during Shihuangdi's
FAMINES ANO PESTILENCE WERE NOT relatively short reign.
ACCIDENTS. APPARENTLY A YOUNG l.JAN When Shihuangdi fell victim to o ld age, his burial
HUEI COAMED A PROVINCIAL LORD INTO palace was said to be tru Iy magnificent, covering acres and
"OARDING "IS ~ODO : Tms LEO TO ms NEIG" - hosting terracotta likenesses of thousands of his most
DORS DOING T" E SAME. ANO SOON . WIDE- loyal soldiers. His chariot and much of his wealth was
S PREAD HOARDING IN THE SOUT" AND WEST buried with him; construction of the palace had begun
LED TO FAMINE IN T"E NORT" ANO EAST . when he took the throne of Qin, some 36 years earlier.
RNo nu: 5-'Enocrnus PEOPLE SAY T"AT T"E
PESTILENCE WAS T"E RESULT Of" T"EIR
DESTRUCTION D~ A GRl:AT Ol:MON.
22 .BLOOD It $ju:._
armed campaigns against barbarians in the unforgiving
~ ...........c;D' Jll THE Anl-_1.Jff high desert of the north, however.
Yin-focused Wan Kuei have traveled to The confederation ofnomads that gave the Han such
Shihuangdi's palace in the Yin Realm of the Yel- trouble collapsed around the same time that Han Wu-di
low Springs on more than one occasion. The died. Within a short time, those tribes petitioned the
ancient First Emperor has become the Jade Em- imperial court to allow them to serve as Chinese vassals;
peror of the Dead. Some say his realm has spun too they were accepted, and that allowed the empire to
close to Yomi to truly be considered a Yin Realm, further reduce its military presence in the north.
but these things are rarely hard and fast. The realm Conspiracies and assassinations were the rule of the
of Yu Huang (as the sovereign now prefers to be day after Wu-di's death; eventually the Imperial Regent,
called) is not pleasant for its now-dead residents, Wang Mang, usurped the throne and ruled for some 14
an unending reflection of the emperor's work as a years. Wang Mang was a tireless reformer, endlessly throw-
mortal ruler. ing out new schemes in attempts to get the empire to react
Those Wan Kuei who travel to the Yellow more appropriately to its people's needs. He was assassi-
Springs with the Dead Emperor's permission find nated during the 14th year of his reign; at this time,
Yu Huang to be a gracious, if somewhat wary host peasant rebels held Changan, and the imperial capital was
to those who earn his respect. He will gladly relocated to Loyang.
con verse about history, the dangers and rewards Our kind was very active behind the scenes during
(
of great power and goings-on in the afterlife. Wang Mang's rule. Various courts and wu supported a
Incautious Wan Kuei who travel to the Yellow dozen candidates for the throne, yet none were pre-
Springs without proper permission do not return. pared for Wang Mang's death and fell to infighting
Their fates are not widely discussed, bur it is when it happened.
known that Yu Huang considers himself the peer We call the period after the relocation to Loyang the
of the Yama Kings and subjects his enemies to Later Han; it was a time when scholarship and learning
fates deserving of Hell. took the forefront of Chinese culture. Paper was in-
For more on Yu Huang and the Yellow Springs, vented during the Later Han - before then, informa-
see Chapter Six. tion that needed to be recorded for posterity was either
... ..... ~ -
carved into bamboo or painted onto silk. The Later Han
also fought the first conflicts with the Tibetan people

,. . _ ... &.'"~
Qin Shihuangdi created a framework for all dynasties
from the high mountains to the west, which would
impact our own courts.
The first wars with the Tibetans decimated a tribe
which followed his, even though the Qin dynasty itself (if favored by Empress Fan of the White Tiger Court. Her
there can be said to have been such a thing) ended with retaliation against the responsible wu - a Yellow Em
his death. Less than a decade after Shihuangdi's demise, peror Court wu called the Piercing Fists - was swift and
former Qin functionaries founded the Han Empire. These precise. The Yellow Emperor's counter-response was
bureaucrats, led by Liu Bang, did not descend from the equally swift bur absurdly imprecise; his forces lashed out
traditional nobility, since it had been destroyed during against shen ofall shapes and sizes in the T akla Makan and
Shihuangdi's reign. They came from peasant and bureau- the mountains ofTibet. For centuries, the two courts were
crat families and seized power when a good opportunity in a state of undeclared war, while the Xiong Ren and
presented itself. other sh.en of the region struck against all Wan Kuei they
Emperor Liu spread power throughout the empire to could find. The chaos did not settle down until the
allow for proper governance, while keeping too much foundation of the Sui dynasty.
authority from concentrating in any one noble's hands. A combination of factors destroyed the Han dynasty.
Such decentralization was necessary to support th,e
Inner court eunuchs struggled with outer court counselors
Xiongnu Wars against nomadic raiders of the north. The and imperial advisors over access to the throne. At the
nomads fielded tens of thousands of cavalrymen when the same time, a peasant revolt led by a group called the
need arose, and they did not suffer the same demands of Yellow Turbans marched on Loyang; though they were
supply that imperial armies did.
put down, the military itself was a tool in this power
A later emperor, the Confucian Han Wu-di, retained struggle. When a eunuch assassinated the military's impe-
both mortal and supernatural advisors. He understood rial leader, the soldiers occupied the capital for years, and
many of the allusions of the I Ching and was able to the emperor himself was a virtual prisoner. The empire
discover important relationships between the elements, spun apart.
directions, colors and virtues. Han Wu-di followed a
poetic and symbolic aesthetic in his rule of the empire; he T'HE T~H l:f..<;DOMS
was truly one of the finest scholar-kings China has ever By the end of the Han, three provinces, Wei, Wu and
seen. Wu-di also staged numerous wildly unsuccessful Shu Han, had garnered enough influence and loyalty that
23
'----------......llle!!!'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!I!'!!"""""'~~~~~
they were kingdoms unto themselves. The Kingdom of and verdant, and the Sui were not foolish enough to let
Shu Han had been largely self-sufficient before the Han them lie fallow forlong. Certainly the Court of the Scarlet
dynasty collapsed; it had extensive resources and was very Phoenix has benefited from the expansion; China's in-
defensible. The Kingdom of Wu, a naval power, con- creased commerce with her southern neighbors makes
trolled much of the southeastern coastline of China and travel for the Ten Thousand Demons far easier.
a fair amount of the Yangtze's length. The Kingdom of
Wei contained the remnants of the old Han court and
bureaucracy, as well as a large, well-trained army. The
leaders of Wei spent generations attempting t:o unify the
Three Kingdoms; it took 60 years for them to become one,
in the form of the Jin dynasty. It lasted less than 20 years.
The eastern fragments of the Jin dynasty eventually
led to the reunification ofChina, but the northern part of
the country split into a handful of warring tribal states
known as the Sixteen Kingdoms of the Five Barbarians.
Jurchens, Tatars, Tibetans, Qidans and other barbarians Three powerful and charismatic mortals dominated
dominated these kingdoms. Control over different lands the Tang dynasty. One of them has since taken the Road
changed hands dozens of times over the next century. Back from Hell; the others are lost, living only in the
The chaos of ever-changing sovereignty in the north memories of the mandarins and ancestors.
concealed an epic series of spirit battles, as a number of Li Shimin took the throne in Changan after his father
packs of Xiong Ren subdued and chained a G reat Dragon Li Yuan died naturally. Li Yuan, the DukeofTang, seized
in the forest of the far northern wasteland. This creature the empire to found the Tang dynasty at the urging of
strains at its bonds even today, I am told. Shimin, his second son. During his father's reign, Li
Shimin slew his brothers with arrows and had all of their
THI: SUJ DDCASTY sons executed, cleverly leaving himself as the only claim-
The Sui dynasty was founded by a harsh, driven man ant to the throne. Emperor Li Shimin was a strong-willed
named Yang Jian, of the Sui prefecture in the Northern Confucian with firm ideas about a ruler's duty to his
Zhou Kingdom, some 350 years after the fall of the Han. subjects. He perfected many facets of imperial govern-
He found himself on the throne of Northern Zhou as it ment, and h is successors spent their entire reigns trying to
completed its conquest ofnumerous border states. His rise match his deeds. Li was fearless and brave and inspired
to the throne was most auspicious: Mysteriously, some 59 loyalty in his military leaders by often joining them on the
other possible claimants to the Northern Zhou Kingdom batdefield. Li Shimin laid the groundwork for more than
all died at Changan during the three years leading up to a century of prosperity and good times for China.
his coronation. One of the most brilliant inheritors of his work was a
former chambermaid, Wu Zetian, who slept and killed her
From the Commentaries of Dan Xiang: way to the throne not 50 years after Li's death. She reigned
"-l\5leKi0\.1Sly? 'YO\,f <f ;<=J l'\Or .::ti\1 4-ee.j\)1/ as the only empress in China's history, and all of the Tang
-f-1'\0\tlt'jk 1'hey w-ek.-e ASSASSi!\Atio1'\5. Ask. ? Al'\ emperors that followed her were her descendants. When
N-eibAI'\, w~o took 111.e!?ecol'\<f <!SK-eA111 A.ft~rd1is Emperor Li Zhi died in the 56th year of the dynasty, Wu
CO\tlSil-\J iAY\ h.v~H1iiV'l poiSOY\e-4. flt-1-e.Ac:tsttit-A"'1- Zetian's fourth son was placed on the throne against his
r
b-eR. N!<:.el-\ W\1 ifl\, ChAfl\~AI'\ roc::IA Afl\.::l is Ac::le.A/.\01'\ will. Wu's first son had died during Li Zhi's reign, she
of 50"'1-e fO~vtt<:. commanded her second son to commit suicide (which he
ys
AV101'\fl 0111-e~ ifl\tek.-f.Stil-\\) tl11fl\\lS, ~SA tl1A1 did), and her third son was placed under extended house
his ok!-e1<:. &ic::.athe~ ~..\s fo\1fl\~ <:f~A~, <:fR.Ai"'i~ of arrest after defying her. But Wu could not stand in the
blooc:t, f.\tl~t A~w cf A ys l1foK-t- he ~1.v\S-e1f too_k. his shadows for long; after six years ofher son's reign, Wu took
f. . of
,r~f"' s1p. 1>1.::l 111-e -e.14-el<.S tl'l-e Co\11<:.t of tl-1-e. the throne openly.
en
'Y ow 'E.v\~-t-KOK ~t<.OO,v\ 'YAft\\l JiAfl\, oil:, ct1c:t Ofl\-t- Empress Wu was hardl y secure in her throne; her
of f.
l-he..v1 si.v\~Jyi owe ~ii'/.\ A woK.> secret police killed dozens of princes and potential
claimants, and bronze chests were placed in public
The most important accomplishment of the Sui was squares for rnon:als to leave anonymous charges of trea-
the expansion of canals, vastly expanding commerce son for the secret police to read. But Wu was an effective
between southern and northern China. The Sui dynasty's empress; China thrived during her reign. Imperial armies
second and final emperor, Yang Guang, who had no repelled incursions by Tibetans, Turks and Qidans.
compunctions about literally working peasants to death Wu's reign may have rated as the pinnacle of the
on the canals, directed this effort. Though the Wan Kuei Tang dynasty; a long, slow decline followed her, punctu-
found the population's con,centtation in the northlands ated with rebellions by An Lushan and Huang Chao. In
to be particularly useful, the lands of the south were rich both cases, rebellions took place because the common
folk grew exasperated with the corruption of imperial
officials. Finally, the growing independence of various
provinces and the relative weakness of the imperial
court at Changan led to the empire's spiraling off into
many separate kingdoms, each claiming to be the true
inheritor of the Tang dynasty.
Some of the most enlightened Wan Kuei lived
during the Tang dynasty; many of these lived splen-
didly and went to Hell as a result of their conspicuous
excess. Some of these ancestors and mandarins con-
tinue to exist in lush splendor, to show their contempt
for the judgment on their souls; others lead spare
unlives of quiet contemplation, hoping to redeem their
lives' actions.

FJw DntASTJn. T" s:,,.c;DoMS


After the collapse of the Tang, the forces that tore
the empire apart kept it splintered for more than two
generations. Independent war leaders in the south staked I
out their own fiefs and ruled them as personal kingdoms, ~
while in the northern reaches, five short-lived "dynas-
ties" rose and fell in quick succession.
It was a chaotic era and a time full of opportunity for
Wan Kuei; frequent fighting and palace intrigues, com-
bined with a paranoid independence in the south, made
for rich feeding and ample opportunity for influence-
peddling and manipulation.
Some of the most powerful mandarins in modem
Wan Kuei society walked the Road Back during this era;
already adept at the finer points of intrigue, these mon-
sters - such as Kang Liu, now Second Minister of Infor-
mation in the Court of the West, and the N ihonj in Bone
Dancer Atanasu, a renowned necromancer - have rap-
idly learned the fine points of Xue's Dhannic paths.

Tuso,.c;D~
The Song Empire reunified China after two genera-
tions spent divided; the leadership was determined not to
repeat the mistakes that brought the Tang dynasty to its
end. Thus, the Song was a time of philosopher-kings and
poet-lords. The Song military declined in quality even as
China faced increasingly hostile neighbors, in the form of
the Liao Empire and Xixia, to the north. With the
military in such disrepute, a great rift opened between
soldier and civilian during the Song.
Ctw"IH. Oac1: ~-Y D.:" or nt1 MiDDLI ~CiDOH @ 25
Many modem mandarins lived during the Song dy- the proper way of things, though some Running Monkeys
nasty; oftentimes they speak contemptuously of the de- support either the Song o r the] in due to lifetime loyalties.
generacy of the modem age and the fallen empire. One
who manages to get a couple of Yang-drunk mandarins to TH CoMJ...c; DEW;
talk about "the good old days" is liable to spend at least an Any rational Wan Kuei can see the coming of the
evening hearing tales of riches and outrageous fortune. Fifth Age, off in the distance. Not this generation and
In the l 58th year of the Song dynasty, Emperor Zhao not the next one, but perhaps the Fifth Age will greet us
Zi struck upon what he considered to be a brilliant plan. with the grandchildren of today's succulent young in-
He would ally with the Jurchens, a huge tribe of raiders fan ts. Dozens of prophecies, short and long, have been
from the lands north of the Liao Empire. With Chinese written about the coming Fifth Age - many call it the
infantry striking northward and Jurchen horsemen driv- Great Flood or the Great Drowning or the Great Con-
ing south, the Liao Empire would surely crumble. China quest - and most of them contradict each other. Here
would thus gain new territory, lose an increasingly un- is a small selection:
pleasant northern neighbor and build a new border with We will be laid low by the great family of the west; the
this recently discovered ally. tormented blood marriages they create me only pale echoes of
The plan worked too well. Unfortunately for Zhao our own fall, and their jealousy will split the Five.
Zi, theJurchens did all of the work. Within seven years, TheSonofHeavenwillridedownfrom the North; he will
the Liao had been ground under the hooves of the conquer the world with earth, fire and water. Courts will fall;
Jurchens, who reestablished the state as the] in Empire. the Age will tum. Men will die; women and children will wail
China's armies seemed content to sit and watch this before his might and the might of his warriors.
happen; they acquired no territory. Jurchens who fought A storm will come to the dead; the Yin Realm will shake,
and died conquering the Liao found the idle Chinese and the Wall will crumble before the stonn' s howling winds.
armies to be worthy only of contempt. Rather than
A court will tum away from the light of Heaven, and a
gaining a grateful young nephew kingdom along its
great ancestor will fall to the Kings of Hell.
northeast border, China found itself facing a skilled and
The breath of the heavens shall drown the warriors of
hungry predator.
the north.
TH1: SoU1'11fl\te Sote~ DD(ASTY At(D THE: Pale men from the West will walk in the conquered cities
J,.._ EMP,~1: of the Middle Kingdom; they bring strange gods with them.
A great kingdom will drown; the rivers themselves shall
In the 166th year of the Song dynasty, general
disaster befell the empire, and very particular disaster obey the dictates of the Son of Heaven.
befell the royal family. The Jurchens of the Jin Empire A mountain shall arise under the tomb of the First
raided southward across the great Hebei Plain and cap- Emperor.
tured Kaifeng. Zhao Zi had abdicated in favor of his A Great Dragon shall awaken in the distant north.
eldest son, in the hopes of warding off the anger of the The Beast Courts will make peace with the Courts of
Jurchens, but it was to no avail. China lost its capital the Dead.
city; the imperial family and more than 3,000 courtiers The eldest bodhisattva will be laid to rest.
and servants were sent northward into Manchuria. Few A mortal kingdom will fall to Yomi Wan.
were seen again. A desperate lord will once again hurl his kingdom against
Only Zhao Zi's ninth son, Zhao Gou, had managed a superior foe; he will die, and his sire will lose the Mandate of
to escape this fate; he was in Nanking at the time of Heaven.
Kaifeng's capture. On hearing of his family's fate, Zhao Ten ye.a.rs ofdrought and pestilence will herald the coming
Gou declared himself the new Son of Heaven and the of the Fifth Age.
Southern Song dynasty to be the successor to the Song.
Cast out, the bureaucrats of He.aven will form a sixth
Immediately after his coronation, the young emperor
Great Court.
was on the run. For more than four years, the Jurchens
pursued Zhao Gou through southern China, from Ningbo
to Linan. The lakes, rivers and canals of the southern l;R ;tt SouTHER_tt Sottc;
empire rendered the normally huge advantage of the Jin
cavalry negligible, and the Southern Song troops were CH;~
able to drive the Jurchen back northward. When the Jin Report from Amrat Atansas, a servant of King
retreated, Emperor Zhao was able to take up residence in Bogabo of the Xixia Beast Courts:
Linan; the assembled court named LinanXingjai, "visit- Your Majesty,
ing headquarters." I send you this mail by courier. I trust him implicitly;
Young Wan Kuei - disciples and the youngest j ina he is not loyal to the Song Emperor and his court, and
- have never known an era other than this one. They more importantly for my purposes, he is mute and cannot
tend to believe that a divided, half-conquered China is read. He has been well paid to bring you this document.
26 = .........._...~..........._...._...............__~~~
~
None of rhe mfonnation here tSsecret or hidden from
chc general human; indeed, mosc of it is stmply observa-
tion of che humans' activities from day to day. Neverthe
less, I send 1c co you as secretly as possible, for I know that
the Dragon'li Tear Court, which controls some of the
route berween Linan and X1xia 1 might take exception to
its conten~ and analy 1s.

o.. TM .PEOPL.1 6"'D T"HEJ~ D&11J lbaJTS


The people of Linan and most of the Southern Song
Empire are obsessed with cleanliness and washing co a
degree I find mo t d1 comfiting. As you know, my breed-
and by extension, the majority of my kinfolk-prefers to
live m places where creatures such as fleas and lice are
active and healthy. Appreciating as I do the traits of the
people of Xix1a, who arc bathed twice in their existences
(once after birth, and once after death), I cannot help but
feel rcpu lsed by the water-obsessed southerner. He uses an
inexpensive public bath three times in the cycle of a
month, m brisk cold water-only barbarians and foreign-
ers require warm water- and, occasionally, uses soap to
scrub gnmc away. Wealthy southerners have baths of
che1rown; a few eccentric souls even bathe daily. Thank-
fully, the nobility of the imperial court here in Linan is of
hardv northem tock and does nor require such abase-
ments before the god of cleanliness.
It may cem curious, then, that women of wealth m
Linan go co grear length co improve what nature has
provided chem with. They apply a white layer of makeup
to their face ; they tint their fingernails (and some even
their hands); they even apply oils to their hair, to improve
1c lu ter. Occasionally een among the wealthiest fami
Iies here in Linan arc women with bound feet: The feet are
tightly wrapped from a very young age, giving ladies of the
court a dclicare, mincing, feminine stride. Not inciden
tally, foot-bound ladies of the court are much easier to
catch, shou Id they decide ro run from an amorous were rat,
bur chat is a talc for another day, my liege....
In the matter of clothing: The common folk wear
hempen cloth, while nobles and wealthy merchants wear
silk. On occasion, a fashion, such as parasols, will come
into favor m the court. Typically, such fashionable items
(or fashionable color , or fashionable head coverings, as
you will have 1t) are allowed only to certain members of
the courc, by 1mpenal decree, but few months pass before
they are seen m the apparel of any of the common folk
who wander by. No man, save the Buddhist monk, walks
che scrcCtli with his head uncovered; no man or woman
walks the streets with feet bare. Those Ferocious People I
know with kinfolk among the wealthy (surely none ofmy
breed, I can assure you) tell me chat a man's station and
rank can often be determined solely by looking at his
headgear and footwear. Women do not cover their heads
but carefully adorn their hair with combs and other
trinkets; the placement of these things is considered to be
high art, if the tales are to be believed.
CtiaPtH, o._.: lluNCf"J Duo on111- MiDDlf ~;DOK @ n:r 21
As an aside, most wealthy men and women wear bearing young; eight births are not seen as excessive
girdles - often plated in precious metals, jade or, taste- over a lifetime. There are too many of them, too many
lessly, parts of rare animals - outside of their clothing, of them everywhere, despite our best efforts to the
and they often tie pouches filled with money to hooks on contrary. Linan bums easily, sire; it suffers from regular
the girdles. I am sure that my lord does not have to work fires. But they have more children, faster, after losing
his imagination feverishly to consider the vast temptation them to fire. The only thing likely to stop them is
and opportunity such an idiotic contraption provides to starvation; when a family is stretched beyond its means
my people. children are aborted with drugs, "washed too long"
immediately after birth or given to the imperial au-
FOODAlilD D~~ thorities, where they grow up as orphans and often find
In this regard, I must respect the humans of China: work in service of the emperor.
They will eat practically anything. Anything within rea- City children are allowed to run free until roughly the
son, at least - the rumors I have heard of cannibalism age ofseven years. They are rarely threatened or punished
{even cannibalistic restaurants) are unconfirmed and for their misdeeds; in fact, the worst punishment most can
probably untrue here in the imperial capital. Reports of expect to receive is a severe scolding or a scary story about
cannibalism in the outer provinces during times of famine one of the bogeymen of southern China. I confess that
are considerably more likely. However, nearly anything upon overhearing one of these stories recently I took the
on four legs is fair game in some part of China, and here opportunity to briefly play the role of"Big-Eyes Yang," the
in Linan, there are restaurants specializing in the styles of monster with the terrible voice. The parent's lesson
far-off parts of the empire. Many of those restaurants seemed quite well ground into the boy within a few short
hearken back to the style of conquered Kaifeng, the old minutes. Country children have far less freedom, ofcourse,
capital. Rice makes up the core of nearly every meal here and are put to work at a very young age, thus offsetting
in Linan, though the proportion of rice in each meal goes their cost as another mouth to feed.
down as the eater increases in status: Rice is seen as filler. Few marriages come about due to an honest expres-
Wine is typically made from fermented soy or rice, sion of affection between man and woman; those that
with added spices. Occasionally, traders from the far west do typically happen between youths in the city who are
will arrive with wine made from fermented grapes or far from parental judgment and influence. Far more
dates, and such wines are quite valuable. The only other common is for marriage to be arranged by parents to
beverage ofconsequence to the humans here is tea, which provide for an advantageous familial alliance or to
produces an euphoric effect in them if drunk in sufficient ensure their own upkeep in old age. In the countryside,
quantity. Typically, the stuff is brewed as an excuse to boil these marriages are sometimes arranged when husband
the otherwise putrid water of the area. I have co wonder as and wife are children; in the city, they are not made
a personal aside here, sire, if the humans would choose to quite so young, but the youths still have little choice in
eat and drink their own excrement, given the chance. For the matter. In any case, the wife becomes a part of the
myself, I do not trouble with tea overmuch; our iron husband's family from the time of the wedding cer-
stomachs resist the rot in the water, and the same quality emony onward; even on the death of her spouse, she is
of our natures suppresses most of the stimulant in tea. to remain a child of the husband's family, tending to
Therefore, to save time, I simply drink the water dirty. them in their old age.
F"AMJLY ~HMJO,.S Dunt - D TH T8- Tttous.&t(D DEMO,.$
Perhaps I state the obvious when I say that the family Most Chinese follow the dictates of Confucius, my
schemes of the Ferocious People do not match those of liege. Chief among those dictates is filial piety: the duty of
ordinary humans. The apes Live among extended families, a child to his parents. This duty continues even after
except when they live in circumstances forbidding such death- Confucian scholars are quite clear that a sump-
arrangements. A single household is likely to hold all tuous funeral followed by burial in the country is the
family members of three or four generations. Written laws proper course of action for a pious child upon the death of
as old as the Tang dynasty actually dictate the interaction a parent. Funerals, when they do happen, are therefore
between members of the same family: Breaking the bone vast in scope and quite wasteful in resources. They have
of an older cousin holds a more serious punishment than a tendency to render poorer families bankrupt.
doing the same to a younger sibling. This is not, to my Buddhists, by contrast, encourage the poor to cre-
understanding, the case either in Jin or Xixia, where mate the bodies of their departed ancestors. Cremation is
interactions are more casual between family members, but cheaper, and the enlightened Buddhist whose body is
the imperial court likes to remind subjects of the Song consumed by flame is said to have a greater chance of
dynasty that they inherit a 1500-year-old emphe and, as passing to the right hand of Buddha, into Nirvana. Here
such, must carry on the traditions passed down. in Linan, a Buddhist temple maintains a large crematory
Like humans everywhere, those in China repro- oven that pious Buddhists may use to properly dispose of
duce until the woman is no longer physically capable of their ancestors' physical remains.
BLOOD It SfU::..

Perhaps it is no surprise that the Wan Kuei have stitchings are thought to repel disease. Additionally, of
taken an interest in this conflict. Though I sometimes course, these creatures are all poisonous to some extent
hear rumors to the contrary, it is my understanding that and, as such, are owed great respect.
a corpse gone to ash is of little use to a returning vampire. I admit that there has got to be some relationship to
A human sufficiently wicked to return from Hell surely the great corruptor spirit here: Centipede, Toad and
deserves to have no body to return to. We are not certain Scorpion are often seen as avatars or servants of the
what happens to those who return from Yomi Wan to destroyer, despite the respect that Wasp and Snake often
find only a pile of ashes; perhaps they are doomed to walk receive. Unfortunately, the Five Venoms are not part of
as ghosts. The scholars at my liege's court would know some state cult that we could ascribe to the influence of
better; I am but a humble dweller in shadow. We do demons; they are a part of ordinary folklore. Again, my
know that the existing Wan Kuei here in Linan (and liege, we see part of my reason for writing this letter: There
presumably elsewhere} support the Confucians and en- are wiser minds than my own at your court. Perhaps they
courage humans to bury their dead "honorably," even if can see the core of this issue.
such a thing costs their entire savings.
~ -D l.EJSU".f
SEAso"-s -.D THI SQ I admit that, as a wererat, I am perhaps less qualified to
The inhabitants of China see their emperor as the speak of fine art than another agent might be. But I plunge
ultimate lord over all things, including the passage oftime onward, obedient to the dictates of my liege and his
and the seasons. One imagines great hilarity ensuing the oversharp dentition.
next time the emperor commands the Sun to remain in Chinese painting seems focused on landscapes; in
the sky past its appointed hour; remember, this is the same snooping through nobles' estates, I have seen more
throne that couldn't keep a few thousand marauding than one beautiful portrayal of the land at dawn or
Jurchens on their side of Kaifeng. But perhaps my bias is sunset. The painter Guo Xi spoke of the importance of
showing a bit too blatantly; I shall continue the main accurate depiction of life; he felt that one could nearly
thrust of my narrative. channel Chi through a true artwork. Other painters
The emperor and his court create the calendar for spend less time on representation and more time on
each year; rather than doing something simple, such as evocation and impression. Mi Fu evokes strong emo-
watching for the vernal equinox each year, the Chinese tions through his work, even though the pictures he
date the beginning of their year to the second new presents are in no way realistic.
moon after the winter solstice. The year therefore As the civil exams have become more important to
fluctuates wildly in length; there are a dozen extra days the populace, I have seen more examples of this "print-
in each year, which every few years are added seemingly ing" that we have discussed in the past. Instead of
at random to one year or another. I believe this to be delicately laying down each stroke of a character with
another tool of the imperial court, for without the a calligrapher's care, the printer lays wood blocks in
calendars they provide to the populace, it would be place to represent characters, inks them and presses
impossible for the average person to determine the them against parchment to create a document as a
start of planting season. whole. Monks have been using chis technique since the
Chinese subjects measure the passage of years over early Tang dynasty, I am told, but the tools are becom-
two cycles: a 12-year cycle based on different animals (rat, ing more widespread. Humans have begun creating
ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, thick treatises on history, science and astronomy; I
rooster, dog, and pig) and a 10-year cycle based on the daresay this will reduce our ability to keep them under
elements, with each element getting two consecutive control as time progresses.
years: metal, water, wood, fire and earth. Thus it takes 60
years for the entire cycle co repeat itself. This is the Year w~
of the Fire Snake by their reckoning. The typical member of the Chinese Army is a
peasant; those born co nobility often become officers,
r. "" V1tc0Mous ~IATU"-" but most of them lack the physical build and martial skill
The humans of the Song have a curious superstition; co thrive as a soldier. The peasant, by contrast, has
I once imagined chat it must come from a perverse worked hard his entire life, and unlike the child of
veneration of our undying enemies, the Centipede and privilege who spends his time at chess or calligraphy, his
his minions among just city dwellers, but it seems that this youthful playtime was spent in mock battles, playing
mythologizing occurs throughout China. The Chinese with toy swords or spears.
treat five insect-eating, poisonous creatures with the The Chinese are quite advanced in terms of arms.
greatest respect: Wasp, Toad, Snake, Scorpion and Cen- Song dynasty China takes advantage ofgunpowder, which
tipede. They go so far as co stitch likenesses of these it invented 200 years ago. The Chinese have been using
animals on their children's clothing. All five of the explosives in warfare since the wars with the Jin in the
Venoms eat insects that often carry disease, so these early Southern Song. They have explosive devices with a
~ Ot11: ~~' Duo OF 1HI HiDDU (fl(c;DoM 2.9
~.........................._..""""""""""l!!P"--~~~~-
lit fuse, which can be hurled at an enemy; when the fuse Co)te&.USJO)t
reaches the core of the device, it explodes with a flash and It is my fervent wish, sire, that the information
a loud noise, sending shards of hot broken metal in all included herein will prove of use to you in upcoming
directions. Such things are exceptionally useful against campaigns against the forces of the south. I myself intend
unprepared cavalry, and we have learned that they also to return to your court before the year is out, after my
work well against the Wan Kuei. business in Linan is complete. Should you require further
In terms of personal weaponry, as we know, the serviceofme,youknowthattheslightesthintofarequest
Chinese have used the crossbow as their primary missile shall be trea _ from on high.
weapon since before the Qin unification. Larger, long- I end your obedient servant,
range repeating crossbows on solid bases- impressively
useful against berserkshen if the bolrs have been properly
treated - have been in place since the early Han.
Catapults and giant crossbows are the most important
heavy weapons available on the battlefield. The armies .8E-YO..D THE IEMP;E-
of the Southern Song can field huge mounted composite ~
crossbows operated by up to 100 men. They have a range Report from Zeng Zhixin, Eastem Serpent of the
of 200 yards. Catapults, even larger, are operated by up Flying Wheel Wu.
to 250 men and use clay and stone projectiles or burning T he Middle Kingdom is a vast place; the influence
ammunition. These sorts of things are rarely useful in my of the great Chinese empires can be felt from the Indus
day-to-day life, but one imagines that it is good to to Kamakura and from Pyongyang to the Thai jungle.
remember that the Song can bring such things to bear if The Wan Kuei stalk the nights of all this land; while we
the need arises. are by no means all-powerful masters of all we survey,
Also, the Chinese navy is a rather impressive fleet. ancestors wield great power over individual cities and
I admit that my experience with boats is relatively regions, and merchants, aristocrats and even imperial
limited, but I am told that several of my great-grandpar- advisors are hard-pressed to avoid our influence.
ents spent much of their time aboard Chinese naval The Song dynasty rules China now. China has stood
vessels and those that could speak shared interesting at the center of political acti viry in Asia foras long as even
tales. Modern Chinese naval vessels can carry more than the arhats can remember. Our capital city is now the
1,000 people when they need to transport troops from beautiful and rich Linan, but the imperial court calls
one place to another, and they mount "rockets" for Linan Xingjai, "visiting headquarters": The mortals in,
defense against foreign navies. These devices are tube- tend to retake Kaifeng from the Jin. The history of
shaped stacks of gunpowder; they can be aimed at a hundreds of years and the tombs ofdozens of emperors are
distant boat and lit aflame. They then propel themselves in Kaifeng, after all. But for now, the mortals rest and
to the target and explode most spectacularly. Vessels gather their armies in defense and attend sumptuous
belonging to particularly well-connected merchants have parties and court functions.
also been seen with these rockets mounted prominently; As much as the residents of Linan would like to deny,
no doubt their presence discourages pirates. And I imag- lands beyond their control continue to thrive. I humbly
ine that it is only a matter of time before the pirates suggest that the ancestors ofour courts do not repeat mortal
themselves attach rockets to their ships in order to errors and that they remain aware ofevents beyond China's
maintain the balance of power. borders. I gladly share the fruits of my travels and discus-
sions with other travelers.
WOii\
The imperial warlords are clever as all monkey-folk; ,.--HE ..0-_THQ_t( CJtt;DOMS:
they never tire of finding new ways to get more work from
a single man. T ravelers speak of new farming methods and XJXJA-AN.D J;N.
expanded cultivation of the lands to the south; this Only a century ago, the Tibetans of the Empire of
expansion has begun to push against the kingdom of Xixia and the Qidans of the Empire of Liao were client
Angkor, but as yet, there remains peace between the two. states of the Song Chinese. The eye blinks, the world
Manor-bound peasants farm rice in ever-wet fields now, changes: The nomadic Jurchen peoples conquered the
and a strain of rice has been developed which matures in Liao, and now, their Jin Empire stands in its place. Indeed,
winter, letting two harvests occur each year. Jin has conquered much of Koryo and northern China,
The state as a whole has become more concerned and Xixia now pays tribute to the Jurchen leaders.
with earning money and making a profit than with filial The two northern empires have a number ofsimilari-
piety, respect to the emperor and so on. lt is hardly ties. The dominant peoples of both are descendants of
Confucian. Admittedly, sire, other than my great respect rugged, horse-riding nomads who have settled down to
and loyalty to you, I am hardly Confucian myself. take advantage of agriculture but who maintain a strong
cavalry tradition. And both have defeated the troops of
30
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PACIFIC
OCEAN

0 SOUTHCHlNA
SF.A
THE MIDDLE KINGDOM
.- I

the Song Chinese on the field of battle nwnerous times .r-------_..;---~~~~~~~-


over the last few decades. T"M J.W.OF~
Bue Xixia is on the decline; its ruUng class has inter During the Tang dynasty, a number of Per .
married with the Jin rulers, and as the smaller and weaker sians who folloWed the dictates of the Torah trav-
of the pair, it acknowledges the Jin emperor's supremacy. eled across China as far as Kaifeng. These Jews -
Little of Xixia is suitable for cultivation, so the curious known as Rhadinites - were. silk traders familiar
mishmash people there-part Turk, part Tibetan, part with the long road co che West. For reasons lost to
Uighur-breed cattle and serve as merchants. Scores of oral history, they chose to settle permanently in
caravans from the Song and Jin to points further west pass Kaifeng, and the seventh generation of their de-
through the Xixia capital of Ningxia every day. scendants lives chere and scrupulou11ly maintains
Jin has a large bureaucracy and a multicultural popu- traditions brought from the West. Their faith is '"
lation; at the present time, it enjoys peaceful relations not incompatible with many ofthe tenets of Con-
with all of its neighbors. The Jurchen overlords of the fucianism, and they have recently been permitrcd
empire maintain a capital at Liaoyang. By far the largest to build a synagogue in the city, providing rhey
group living in the empire is Chinese, not Jurchen. obey the same restrictions as any other temple.
Chinese manners, speech and script have begun to infil-
trate even the imperial court, despite repeated imperial
Taira branch of the Fujiwara dominated the court, but
proclamations ofthe superiority of the Jurchen way oflife.
across the island in Kamakura, the Minamo~o branch
gathered sufficient influence to itself that Minamoto-
"1HON. no-Yoritomo was declared shogun, supremt: military
Nihon, a kingdom made up of a large chain of commander of Nihon; the power to selecr successive
islands east of China and Koryo, is still cleaning up shoguns was at the core of the Gempei War.
after a recent war between two of its most powerful Over the last half-century, the Taira and Minamoto
noble families. This conflict, called the Gempei War, families assumed increasing importance in the prov-
came about due to the crumbling influence of the inces. The Minamoto family owns the Kanta Plain in
Nihonjin Emperor. The dominant family at the impe- which Kamakura sits; the Taira, relative newcomers co
rial court, the Fujiwara, lost power steadily as o ther the Nihonjin imperial court in Kyoto, gained the pa
influential families married in and diluted the power of rronage ofseveral retired emperors and saw their star rise
the core Fujiwara Line. Until about 10 years ago, the in court appropriately. Indeed, provincial nobility has a
CHAmit ONE: ~ll'f Duo orn11 HJDDll ~~DOK 31
filifl55 ZZ2ZZ

far greater say in imperial politics now than it did 20 peasant troops, but pairs of samurai standing across a
years ago, and local nobility is far more likely to carry its few feet of dirt from each other often settled battles.
own military authority. The honorable lone samurai motif has since become an
As power began to drift away, quarrels erupted important part of Nihonjin art and storytelling. The
among the various factions of the court. Various Shinto strength of this image was compounded by the differ-
and Buddhist temples of the island nation competed ence between the cou rtly, mannered Taira and the
with the retired emperors, who in tum struggled with the wilder, rough Minamoco.
royal family and provincial nobility. Each faction de- Taira-no-Kiyomoridiedayearintothewar; the Taira
sired a voice in the affairs of state, and it is obvious in faction was already on the defensive by this point, and the
retrospect that such factionalism would leave Nihon Minamoto and their allies pressed westward across the
dangerously weak. One provincial noble, Taira-no- island for the next two years.
Kiyomori, took advantage of this chaos to maneuver his Two years after Kiyomori's death, Minamotono-
infant grandson onto the throne some 17 years ago. Yoshitsune led the warriors of the Kan to Plain in a
Kiyomori reigned in the infant Emperor Antoku's series ofstunning victories. Eventually, the Taira forces
place, and even when the boy was old enough to speak, it and their allies were driven from Kyoto and out onco
was clear that Kiyomori held the power. And he did not boats on the inland sea. There, ships friendly to the
wield it subtly. Within several months of Antoku's birth, Minamoto attacked in force, sinking nearly all of the
noble houses of the Kanta Plain, led by the Minamoto enemy vessels. It was only after the battle was over that
family, took up arms against the Taira family. the Minamoto learned that young Emperor Antoku
Heavily armed and armored noble warriors fought was aboard one of the sunken vessels and that he
the Gempei War; one might see massed clashes of drowned during the fighting.
32 &100D ft Sfu:_
Many disciples and jina among thegaki (asNihonjin
T 1to..-.ol(s SW'Ol\D vampires call themselves) took the Second Breath dur-
Emperor Antoku, grandson of Taira-no- ing the Gempei War. These men are honor-bound and
Kiyomori, died in the final days of the war. When skilled warriors, despite their sentence to Hell. In many
the Taira forces were pushed out of Kyoto onto cases these gaki were bushi (minor nobility and warriors)
boats in the bay and Minamoto forces sank those in life who committed a single act of dishonor and were
boats, Antoku drowned. His sword, one of the slain immediately thereafter. Such a stain on the soul
three pieces of imperial ceremonial regalia, was dragged them directly to one of the Nihonjin Hells;
forever lost to mortals. whether the Second Breath renewed their code of honor
or showed that code to be a fool's restraint varies from
However, evennow, several housesofNihonj in
vampire to vampire. Generally, any renewed honor and
Wan Kuei plan expeditions to the Yin Realms to
loyalty is directed toward their uji, a clan of gaki akin to
attempt to recover the blade from its watery grave.
an extended wu.
Though it is not obviously magical, the sword's
long association with the Imperial House in Kyoto
may have imbued it with power of its own. And
~O~YO
even if it remains wholly mundane, it is a powerful Koryo, that peninsula between N ihon and China, is
rallying point; if it could be found and turned over an exciting place to spend time these days. Sinjong of the
to a favored mortal, that mortal might gain the royal house of Wang sits on the throne, but he does so at
favor of the imperial court in Kyoto and even that the leisure of the most powerful man on the Koryo
of the common man. Peninsula,GeneralCh'oeCh'ung-hon.Ch'oetookpower
The sword may be in the hands of the Same- alongside his brother Ch'oe Ch'ung-su just last year after
Bito shark-men; this is doubly likely if it possesses killing the tyrant Yi Ui-min; Ch'oe Ch'ung-su has re-
magical powers, since the Same-Bito, like most cently vanished, leaving Ch'oe Ch'ung,hon as sole ruler,
hengeyokai, have an easier time finding magic in fact, if not in name.
items than they do finding items of great senti- And so it has gone for the past 25 years: A group of
mental value. On the other hand, it may still be on military leaders seize power, the group's members vari-
the floor of the ocean, or it may have found a ously murder each other until only one remains, and then,
resting place in one of the Yin Realms. The Wa- that one is killed and replaced by a new group. The royal
tery Kingdom of Fu Yi may be most obvious, but family has tried to remain distant from the actual blood-
nearly any Yin Realm could contain the lost sword. letting, but it has done little good; most of the military
rulers attempt to set up puppet kings in the time between
their consolidation of power and their assassination.
A new Nihonjin emperor, Gotoba, has since been Mandarins and jina of the Azure Dragon Court
crowned. The new emperor, however, owes considerably speak of the military's degraded status in decades past,
more to the Minamoco family than his predecessor did. The and Pak Ulchin of the Transcendent Mountains wu
imperial court at Kyoto has lost a great deal of its practical writes that the current tumult is a response to the poor
influence; the administrative headquarters that Minamoto- status of the soldier under mostly c ivilian rule. However,
no-Yoritomo set up at Kamakura during the Gempei War that is largely immaterial; at the present time, the
now serves as general administrative headquarters for much military reigns supreme over the Kingdom of Koryo.
of the imperial government. Soldiers enjoy high status, and civil bureaucrats defer to
Minamoto-no-Yoritomo became shogun after the them in matters of governance.
war. Governmental authority has been gread y spread out; Ch'oe has slowly subverted the order of the military
the individual samurai, aided and overseen by military in Koryo. The Six Divisions of the Koryo Army are loyal
governors (shugo) and military land stewards (jito), have first to the king and, then, to their officers. Ch'oe has not
a great deal of personal power. And most of them are attempted to subvert that Loyalty-or perhaps he has and
personally loyal to the aged Yoritomo. failed quietly. Ch'oe Ch'ung-hon has built up his personal
Yoritomo remains shogun, with roughly 2,000 noble guard to become far larger than the Six Divisions, and
houses supporting him. He is old, and though he did not Ch'oe's personal guard is loyal to him first. With the slow
fight actively during the Gempei War, the conflict has disintegration of the regular army, most able-bodied men
clearly taken a toll. His wife Masako looks after him and, join Ch'oe's huge "personal guard" or the Elite Patrols.
on occasion, makes a trivial decision on his behalf when The Elite Patrols are a combination of the Night
he is too tired to be awakened. Neither of his sons appear Patrols and the Army of Transcendent Righteousness.
worthy of the role of shogun, and he had potential The Night Patrols are made up of dozens of "watches"
challengers in his close family killed years ago, to ensure whose job it is to break up bands of roving nighttime
his own power. hooligans among other elements of the military. In effect,
the Night Patrol has taken on the role of the police in
many of the large towns of Koryo. Since a vile series of~----------------..-...-..._-------~~-'--~
rapes and murders by a wu of akuma across Pyongyang,
Wan Kuei of Koryo have noriced special watches among
the Night Patrols that are populated entirely by the
Children of Yi; such groups bear careful observation from
a great distance. By contrast co the order-keeping Night
Patrol, the Army of Transcendent Righteousness is a
combat force composed of skilled veteran warriors, For
most purposes, the Army of Transcendent Righteousness
acts as Koryo's true national army.
With the new supremacy of the milicary in Koryo,
scholars have fou nd themselves without bureaucratic and
counly jobs. Some have retired co the counayside, to ace as
monks, itinerant poets or even to join the peasant life;
others have applied to serve the house of Ch'oe directly.
They communicate among themselves with some fre-
quency, sharing poetry, prose and ideas.

....... ~
In reali~ Elite ~trols didn't exist until
the reign Of ~Ch'ung...ft(inft successor, Ch'oe
tJ, but_rhe Ni~atrol in particular seems like the
tart-0fthing that.would evolve more quickly in the
~otkl of Darkness that it is appropriate for it to
a.-miea little earliet-there than kwould in our world.
of che--other details of this section remain
l(eUl'ate: Ch'~ Ch'unghon did u~ private forces
to!bolster h~ power at the expense of the
1~dom as a wKOle. If the Eli~ Pacrols give the
inore authentici['tminded among players and Sro-
rwellers fies, they hereby receive sanction to excise
them from melt Blood & Sllk chronicle.

The lands of India, beyond the Himalayan peaks,


are quire different from those we know in China. Wan
Kuei take the second breath there as wel1, but they
seem far from the heart of Grand Arhac Xue's teach
ings. Heretical and foreign teachings are common in
the lands rhac birthed the Buddha. My own experi
ences in India arc minimal, but I have traveled with a
naave of chat region who now walks the heretical
Tempest of Inward Focus Dharma. The fo Uowing ac-
count, l derive from his words.
When the August Personage ofJade levied his judg-
ment against the Wan Xian, the people oflndia were left
to their own devices. Unfortunately, after centuries of
immortal warlords and attacks by enraged Ferocious People,
those devices consisted of crude implements of scone and
copper. le was more than a millennium before the cu ltures
of India rose again from the plains and jungles - but
when they did, they would be the products of humanity's
own designs.
34:___ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _@ LL! a&.oCID It $Jlr.,

The arrival of the Aryans more than 2;000 year:s ago Chandragupta's death, ~autalya pulled himself out of
woke the Immortals, now the Ten Thousand Demons, public view.
from their somnolent state. The invaders brought:"with At tliis time, India served as the middleman for trade
them a religion, their gods and the concept of caste, between the East and West. With trade goods and money
which bound religion inextricably to the society. The came adventurous foreigners: barbaric vampires from the
caste system was a hereditary system that ensured the West, Wan Kuei from the East. The mortal government
stability of the society by mandating which individuals gave land grants to create foreign enclaves in trading ports
could hold which occupations. This stability also,, of and the capital of Paraliputra; Kautalya's subordinates
course, helped to ensure the privileges of the higher watched over these enclaves like hawks.
castes. The caste system consist~d of four overall castes, The threat to Brahman control would not come from
each including numerous and ever-evolving subcasres, outside. Chandragupta's grandson Asoka, proclaimed his
arranged in the following order of status: the Kshatriya, conversion to Buddhism on the very evening of his
the warriors; the Brahman, the priests; the Vaisya, the greatest military victory, the conquering of the final
cultivators; and the Sudra, the servants and laborers. unbowed rival in India. Scholars pointto the fierceness of
Those outside the caste system are referred to as Pariah the battle and the incredible number of deaths as a reason
(this includes both the unclean and foreigners). Almost for his conversion; by some estimates, 100,000 were put to
as quickly as this system crystallized, the brahmans the sword. Wan Kuei scholars put forth theories of super-
realized the power to be had at the top of the caste natural visits from Kautafya's enemies or a king simply
structure; they subverted the Kshatriya by claiming the grown tired of his endless manipulation, seeking refuge
soleabilitytoconferthedivine righttoruleonKshatriya fromhis shadowy advisor. At any rate, Asoka's conver-
kings and codified the new positions in their translitera- sion choked the burgeoning of orthodox power. Kautalya
tions of oral Vedic tradition. disap_peared, and the Maurya Empire fell apart under its
The Ten Thousand Demons adapted themselves to own weight after Asoka's death.
this structure easily. The social structure of the castes Such a vast empire was not seen again. The Gupta
provided a comfortable framework for the demons, al- Empire, founded by Chandragupta I around the time of
though there was some dissention as t0 where the Hungry the rise of the North and South dynasties in China,
Dead should fit. Those who enjoyed the power and status brought about a golden age of prosperity; but for all its
of the Brahman caste during life were loathe to give up wealth it too could not hold together. Following the
their lofty heights in death; long contemplation and empire'scollapse, the kingdoms ofsouthern India were for
analysis by these Brahmans gave rise to the Flame of the the first time ascendant. Those kingdoms exist even
Rising Phoenix Pharma, which we of the Five August today, as the Kingdoms of J-loysalas, Yadavas, Kakatiyas
Courts would call heretical. and Cheras.
But in many cases, the Rower of the individual de- In the north in the last century, four families of the
mon, of whatever caste in life, was impossible to ignore. Rajput clan vied for geographical dominance and the
Those of the lower castes, granted such power in death, possession of the region's leading city, Kanauj. The
refused to spend an unlife in servitude. These powerful families ofthe Raj put clan claim the name Agnikula, the
individuals asserted that the Wan Kuei were a caste to Fire Family, descendents of a mythical figure offire that
themselves, elevated above even the Brahman humans. emerged from the sacrificial fire pits of Mount Abu.
Aryan kings and their dynasties, and those of other Skeptics posit that the story is an attempt by a low caste
invaders and tribes, rose and fell. The teachings of the family to establish a more respectable genealogy. The
Buddha inspired those Wan Kuei who had rejected Agnikulaestablishedacomplexchivalryofwar,sending
Hindu philosophy. The adoption of the theologically out armies to avenge stylized insults or to parade a show
harmonious Tempest of Inward Focus Dharma (again, of strength. This constant expenditure of resources left
which we brand heretical in our supposed wisdom) and the clan unable to respond effectively to an attack from
the resurrection of Grand Arhat Xue's Path of a Thou- the north; a Muslim leader named Muhammad of Ghor
sand Whispers were obvious rejections of those who replaced the occasional icon,smashing and loot-grab,
would be Brahmans among the undead; this decision bing raids with a concerted, kingdom,building attack.
created a clear division in Wan Kuei society, forcing the Bur six years ago, the Raj put kingdom ofDelhi fe ll to the
formation of clearly defined courts based on both geog, Muslim invaders.
raphy and Dharmic adherence.
King Chandragupta forged the continent-spanning T"u )Ul(;ll l:p(c;DoMs
Maurya Empire a century before the rise ofQ inShihuangdi, Several kingdoms dominate the jungles south of the
with the help of military advice and backing from a Middle Kingdom, and I freely admit that I am unfamiliar
Brahman vampire, Kautalya. The young king's natural with them; l am not welcome in the lands of the Scarlet
talent for leadership, combined with Kautalya's advjce on Phoenix Courr. Few Chinese Wan Kuei are. As the
military, economic and espionage matters led to the swift South.em Song dynasty extends its influence southward,
subjugation of most of the subcontinent. On
Cewn-. Ol(f: ~J DuD OF"Tlll Mfoou ~DON @ 35
the Scarlet Phoenix Wan Kuei engage in twilight war but all agree that some ideas took root. Unfortunately, the
against the Yellow Emperor's servants to keep their lands simple understanding achieved through the teachings of
from coming under the subjugation of the Han. another does not grant enlightenment.
I do know that major cities of the south include Buddhism spread to China with the trade goods
Sukhothai, the center ofa burgeoning kingdom ofits own; carried on the Silk Road. A Tang dynasty monk, Xuan
Angkor, the capital of the Khmer Empire; and the center Zhang, traveled to India to spend 18 years studying in
of the Dai Viet, Hue. I have heard that Angkor hosts a the monasteries and Buddhist uni.versities. On his re
major new temple complex, Angkor Thom, built by turn, the Big Goose Pagoda was constructed in Changan
Jayavarman, the Buddhist Emperor of the Khmer, to to house the copious volumes of sutras he brought for
overshadow an older Hindu temple complex called Angkor translation. From China, Buddhism spread through Koryo
Wat. As for the Dai Viet, it was once a part of China; it to Nihon. At each step, local philosophy and religion
becameindependentafterthefalloftheTangdynastyand made their mark, giving rise to a multitude of schools
currently resists further encroachment by the embattled and sects.
Southern Song.

FAJTlt At(D "El.Jc;Jot( Confucianism is one of the oldest religions in China;


Just as it is wise to know the affairs of mortal kings, so it is named for its creator, Kung Fuxi, or "Confucius."
it is wise to know those of mortal monks and scholars. Confucianism is built on several tenets: first, that the god
Several faiths dominate the mortals of the Middle King- of Heaven creates humans and that they are inherently
dom, and even we Wan Kuei cannot entirely escape good as created unless acted upon by pernicious influ-
religious influence. Many of us choose our Dharmic path_ ences. Second, that the god of Heaven is all-knowing and
as an extension of the faith we practiced in life; just as all,seeing: No act of wickedness or evil can be committed
many choose our Dharma in response to the failures of the that he does not bear wimess to. Sins against Heaven are
faith of our sunlit days. seen as the worst kind ofwickedness; when one has sinned
against Heaven, there is no one left to turn to. Third,
BUDDllJSN f'1cD'6ir c..,-. t:__oa,~o ._,HO,_) knowledge is seen as the key to virtue and morality;
Siddhartha Gautama Buddha, the Enlightened One, indeed Confucius saw it as impossible for a person to be
founded his religion with a sermon entitled The Turning truly moral unless they were also well educated. Lastly,
of the Wheel of Law and five disciples. From this humble Confucianism holds four virtues above all others: sincer-
beginning grew a religion that would spread from his ity, benevolence, filial piety and propriety.
native India to all of .t he Middle Kingdom. That first Few truly pious Confucianists take the Second Breath;
sermon contained the core of his philosophy, the Four it would seem that their morality saves them from a trip to
Noble Truths: The world is full of suffering, suffering is Y omi. Casual Confucianists occupy an ever -growing frac-
caused by human desire, renunciation of desire is the tion of Wan Kuei society, however, and some of our
way to salvation, and the way to salvation, nirvana, is number acquire Confucian ideals after taking the Second
the Eightfold Path. The strictures of the Eightfold Path Breath. Confucian behavior and attitudes have been a
are difficult for humans and nearly impossible for vam- part of Chinese culture for so long now that it is truly the
pires; the rigor of adhering to the tenets of right knowl- norm, even among the Hungry Dead.
edge, right aspiration, right speech, right behavior, right
livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right medi- DIVOTJOl(Al. Cuus o--D~ Al(D EuE:W'~E:
tation'tequire the full, undlstracted focus of the body and Personal worship also provides satisfaction for some
mind. The Buddha rejected the Brahmans' emphasis on Wan Kuei. Devoted worshipers see the god of their
ritual sacrifice as an unnecessary distraction and like- choice as benevolent, approachable and attentive. These
wise rejected the c-aste system. The wisdom and open worshipers form cults around charismatic saints, who
nature ofhis teachings brought him astounding numbers compose and sing hymns depicting the gods as friends,
of fo llowers in a very short time, especially from those companions or even lovers. These cults are most com-
castes that were repressed or undervalued in the tradi- mon among the mortals oflndia, but the hungriest of the
tional system. dead have established cults of their own across the
Wan Kuei find much to ponder in the Buddha's Middle Kingdom.
teachings. The Four Noble Truths are very clearly and The Indian Vaishnava and Saiva cults, devoted re
personally true for many of us, and the Eightfold Path spectively to Vishnu and Shiva, are the most socially
simplifies much ofGrand ArhatXue's wisdom. The teach- respected, but smaller cults devoted to all manner of gods
ings of the immortal Arhat are rich and detailed, full of also flourish. Ambitious Wan Kuei establish cult follow-
nuance. The Buddha's lectures, meantfor human ears, are ings, whether they believe themselves to be gods or
necessarily easier to assimilate. Wan Kuei scholars dis- merely wish that it were so. The benefits are obvious: a
agree on the extent to which Buddhism has affected and constant supply of Chi, resources and protection. The
changed the Fivefold Way, the core ofWan Kuei wisdom, drawback is a lack of Dharmic progression for those who
36
~~~~----....------------------<Jl>-------------Rmlll!BI!--~--~~~
follow the Fivefold Way ofGrand Arhat Xue. I have heard family or fertility. Many kami are spirits of the dead, be
that these "Godlings" have forged their own heretical they familial ancestors or great heroes. The Fujiwara
1
Dharmic path known as the Face of the God~. It is surely family s claim to the Nihonjin imperial throne depends,
doomed to failure. in part, on tales of the line's founder being a descendant
The Wan Kuei are not the only ones who take the role of the greatest Shinto gods.
of gods. Any of the shen are able to trick an undiscerning Shintoists believe that the average person is generally
mortal. The most dangerous situation for bystanders, good in thought and action; wickedness is caused by the
vampires and cultists arises when a minion of the Yama influence of evil spirits, which can be avoided or driven
Kings hides behind the mantle of divinity. Particularly away with rituals of purification, offerings and prayers to
crafty recruiters of akuma pose as the god the target was kami at holy shrines and other sacred sites. Shintoists
devoted to in life. believe that death is inherently evil and therefore things
connected to death, such as funerals, attract too many evil
N_EOCol(FUq&IUSM' CHJllA} f spirits to be a proper part of Shinto. Therefore, most
Neo-Confucianism is less a religion than a philoso- Shintoists have Buddhist funerals.
phy, a synthesis of Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian phi- The precise nature of the kami seems to be a matter
losophies; it embraces the Eightfold Path to Righteous- of great debate among those Resplendent Cranes and
ness, the Tao and the principle offilial piety, all in a vast Thrashing Dragons who keep track of such matters. As it.
state religion. Zhu Xi, a stem rationalist, leads the modem has been explained to me, the kamynclude a wide variety
Neo-Confucian movement. ofspirits bound to Nihon in one form or another. Most are
Scholars such. as Lu Xiangshan criticize Zhu Xi's powerful Yang spirits or nobles of the hsien. Yin spirits are
philosophy; it does not contain much original thought rarer, but present in their number.
but, rather, presents past lines of thought in new ways. In my journeys in Nihon, I ha'7e heard tales of Wan
Zhu Xi stresses dualism, the goodness of human nature Kuei (or gaki to use the Nihonjin term) who masquerade
and self-improvement and education through the con- as kami. All such stories end 1.n tragedy for both the
tinuing inve&tigation of all things. "god" and his worshipers-the true kami dislikehaving
their osia'on usurped, it would seem.
. .ISTI). . . ~STJMQTY

ON.DJ&. C..,.. &:._o"~o) ,...AO,...f~


"Christians" follow a faith imported from the far west The Tao ("way" or "road") is the core of Taoist
along the Silk Road. They claim to have been a part of thought. The Tao is the center of all things, a force
Chinese life since the middle of the Han dynasty, only a which permeates all life. The Tao embraces duality in
generation after their deity's death on Earth. They are opposition: There is no life without death; there is no
never present in great numbers, however; currently, the light without darkness; there is no male without female.
most noteworthy sect is a small group that follows the The light, life-filled, male force is known as Yang, while
tenets of a long-dead teacher named Nestorius, once its opposite is Yin. However, the Taoist does not em
patriarch of their church. brace one while scorning the other: He knows that both
According to those Christians I have managed to forces are necessary parts of the universe. The Taoist
speak to, Nestorius held that their deity - known as neither venerates a deity nor prays: He seeks answers to
"Jesus Christ" -was one, indivisible in his person, but life's questions through observing the universe and medi-
containing two natures, one human and one divine. tating on the Tao. The Taoist achieves his desited goals
This belief - despite it's interesting parallels to the through a minimum of action: He does not rashly charge
divisions in our own fallen souls -was not welcomed by toward his desires but, rather, aids the universe in bring-
other Christians and led to factionalism and dismay. ing his desires to him.
Nevertheless, these Nestorians apparently sent a Laotze created Taoism, a deceptively simple philoso-
mission toward the capital, Changan, in the time of phy, two centuries before the Qin dynasty. It did not begin
Tang dynasty. Emperor Li Yuan issued an imperial edict as a religion, of course: Laotze wrote the Tao te Ching to
stating that this faith of the Westerners could be prosely- learn about the universe through the Tao. Ironically, in
tized throughout his empire without interference. In the the Sui dynasty, the- deity-less Taoism became a state
present day, Nestorian Christians are quite rare in the religion in China, and the people venerated Laotze him-
Middle Kingdom, but larger towns and cities may well self as a deity.
host such a church.

SHJN.TO f"1HON.)
T""tE Wo.., or11E lh{D~
Shinto is an ancient, animistic faith. It lacks sacred Report from Zeng Zhixin, Eastern Serpent of the
scripture; its tenets are passed from priest to followers. Flying Wheel Wu.
Shintoists believe in kami, spirits that inhabit living I am thankful that my report on the ways of the
things, unliving things and even abstract concepts like mortal kings and priests has been useful to the ancestors.
THE AUGUST COURTS

~
IJt:HlLLlKA

WHITE
TIGER
COURT

BAY Of BENGAL

INDIAN OCEAN

I hope the following observations on our own Lands will


be as useful.
The shen of the Middle Kingdom live in a different
world than the mortals do. This statement can be taken
both literally and figuratively: Wan Kuei, Ferocious
People, hsien and ghosts can all cross the Wall that
separates the physical from the Spiritual; but it is true in
a deeper sense as well. A depth of experience simply
unavailable to the peasant farmer runs through every
night of a Wan Kuei's unlife. For us, there is no mindless
toil, no pointless obsequies to faraway imperial lords.

TM ..0"1Jt therefore, is a popular range for werewolves and their


Ghostlands, empty plains and haunted forests domi, cousins. The greatest Beast Court in the north is the Tatar
nate the northern reaches of the Middle Kingdom. It is Beast Court, which controls the terrain around a rich
not a welcoming place for the young Running Monkey; dragon nest at the heart of a vast prairie.
take heed. Far in the distant north, beyond the barbarians'
Qin Shihuangdi's Great Wall crosses the dragon plateau, near the center of a great forest, lies sleeping and
track that runs from N ihon to Lake Tianchi here in the bound one of the Great Dragons. A T engu raven-talker
northlands, and as a result, there are a few Chi pools near has told me that the First Spirit Chainer of the Tatar Beast
the wall; these are not truly dragon nests, but such a great Court has begun to speak openly of his worry that the
edifice pushes the Chi flow into minor, transitory eddies dragon might awaken and attempt to free itself; the sorts
from time to time. These, eddies are occupied by Chi, of bindings his own many-times-great-grandfather used to
hungry spirits or Wan Kuei almost from the time they subdue the creature were only expected to last for a
come into being; fortunate indeed is the young vampire millennium. Apparently, he seeks a party of brave Fero-
who finds one unprotected. cious People to strengthen or replace the bonds - and
Numerous Beast Courts dot the northlands; the Mon- guard against any Wan Kuei who might take advantage of
golian Plateau is relatively unpopulated by mortals and, the dragon's restlessness.
31
~~~~~----......................_......_......(j)
It would be irresponsible of me to ignore the presence llil..-.if.lllllllillllfl-.-l!ll!~MMlll
of corrupted Chi sites on the barbarians' great plateau.
These black dragon nests bubble up out of the land itself,
fester for a few months or years and then are destroyed or
simply fade away. The Black Tortoise Court was once
responsible for the destruction of these nests, but in recent
years, that duty has fallen by the wayside. Now, the
Ferocious People hunt corrupted nests when they do not
hunt Wan Kuei.
The taint in the northern soil is far older than the
sack of Kaifeng. It reflects a clash with long-dead
barbarians from the West.

T'u .BL.AC&::.. T011t_11>,a CoUlt,T


The Court of the Black Tortoise controls the lands
north of the Jin and Xixia Empires, as well as the northern
reaches of the Jin. Currently, warlike nomads, who are
divided into more than a dozen relatively minor tribes,
dominate, these lands. The Song and Jin do their best to
keep the tribes at ann's length, frequently by paying
tribute to nations closer to the tribes; for the time being,
this tactic is working.
The Black Tortoise Court is the most sparsely popu-
lated of the five great'courts. Conditions on the northern
plains are not particular1y conducive to our unliving
existence; the nomads do not keep permanent dwellings,
and so incautious and young Wan Kuei find themselves in
constant pursuit of shelter that remains close to the
mortal population.
Like the nomads from whom they are reborn, the
vampires of the Court of theBlack Tortoise do not build
permanent dwellings. The Court meets twice a month (on
nights of the half moon) at a location described by the
positions of the stars and planets on nights of the full and
new moon. The meetings of the Court almost always
happen under an open sky, even in the worst ofweather; in
fact, it is a point of honor for Black Tortoise Wan Kuei to
show a lack of concern for extremes of weather. they smile knowingly when the subject comes up. The
The leaders of the Jurchen tribes who conquered bodhisattva Pu Shoukeng confronts such young jina with
the Empire of Liao to form the Jin Empire owed some the question of what they would dare do when faced with
of their allegiance to the mandarins of the Black Tor- a king that could straddle the known world. Surely, such
toise Court, but in recent years, many tribes have cut a mortal could never exist again.
their Wan Kuei ties.
The Bright Forest wu knows a dhampyr within one
tribe, the Tanguts. This dhampyr speaks of other vam- War reigns in the Court of the Azure Dragon; peasant
pires who run in the night and sometimes feed on the uprisings and nobles' reb~llions roil back and forth across
T anguts. They call themselves Anda, a name that N ihon and Koryo, and rampaging barbarians threaten
means "blood brother" among some tribes. These Anda even the Jin Empire.
may be akuma; they may be something else entirely. In Nihon, the chaos of the recent Gempei War
They claim to come from the west, past the Takla allowed the Wan Kuei and the Ferocious People to
Makan Desert. wage war on one another more openly. In the end, the
More than one Wan Kuei has told me of his desire to Ferqcious People seized a dragon nest high atop Mount
take a tribe of mortals and lead them into the far north, Fuji from the Rising Sun gaki, while the Wan Kuei
there to form a new kingdom, someday to challenge the balanced the scales with the utter destruction of a
empires to the south. Most of these vampires are. young, Hakken wolf changers' nest in the south. Both sides
1

and most- wish to wrest dominance from the decadent work to consolidate their gains and lick their respec-
courtiers of the Yellow Emperor. The elders know better; tLve wounds - and in the case of the Wan Kuei, to
~--------------- .;_~~~3'
......!911!!!_ , ._ _ _ _

assimilate n ew num bers from the mortal dead in the Meetings of the East Court in Pyongyang are rather
Gempei War. tense affairs. Matters of protocol and etiqueue are care-
Several dragon lines cross the Sea of N ihon, connect- fully measured. Ifthe T en th Golden Wind ofSeoul speaks
ing d ragon nests on the N ihonjin islands with others in ro the Celestial Blade of House Genji with h is head
Koryo and the Jin Empire; one notable dragon track in clin ed only slightly, h e may be offering a <le liberate
directly connects the MountFuj i nest with Lake Tianch i, insult to the Celestial Blade, or he may misunderstand his
a powerful site across the Takla Makan Desert in the status relative to the Nihonjin. Or it may be t hat he
Court of the White Tiger. understands his status relative to the islander, but that
Another strong dragon nest lies on the northern Koryo tradition has it that he should not show as much
island of H okkaido, in and around the volcanic area respect to the Celestial Blade as Nihon tradition might
known to the Nihonjin as Jigokudani, "Hell Valley." enforce.
Pools of water run boiling-hoc in Jigokudani even in the Thankfully for the peace ofrhe court, neither the Wan
depths of winter; the Hakken werewolves of Ainu stock Kuei of Koryo nor those from the islands dominate here;
are very strong there. after political disagreements erupted into open warfare a
A relatively small nest sits near the peak of Mount few decades ago, several mandarins from the Courts of the
Hiei; it is quietly dominated by a wu of Inward Focus Yellow Emperor and the Black Tortoise migrated east.
Dharma Bishamon. The dragon nest on Mount Hiei is not After letters and conversation urging reconciliation failed,
particularly powerful, nor do many dragon lines pass the western mandarins acted to end the hostilities. They
through it, but Enryakuji Monastery on Mount H iei is dispatched agents oftheir own co remove the most trouble-
home to skilled, armed monks and gave shelter to the some of the Seoul and Pyongyang wu while attacking the
C loistered Emperor during the Gempei W ars. material resources (land, servants and so on) of the N ihonj in
vampires. The western mandarins have largely been suc-
r.. An~~ DC;ot( Cou~ cessful; if nothing else, vampires ofKoryo and Nihon both
Th~ Court of the Azure Dragon splits along two see them as unwelcome rrespassers.
political axes. F irst is the three-way split between thegaki
ofNihon, the Wan Kuei ofKoryo and its surroundings and F rom the Commentaries of Lun Ouran:
the "imperial" W an Kuei from further southwest; each of There h a point to all of this peacemaKlnq by the
these groups of undead have vastly different traditions and 1mmlqronr mandarins. of course. They have evi-
history from the others. dence that the ombiHous Doitym house of the h1ien
Gaki faction s are known as uji; rather than organize has bequn to in~ltrate the rulinq families of the Jin
themselves along courr or Dharmic Lines, the vampires Empire of the Jurchen peoples. north of Koryo. These
of Nihon see themselves as extended families. The newcomer mandarlm feel that such power belonqs
greatest of these uji is House Bish amon , an ancient and only In the hands of the Won f<uei and Intend to
noble group consisting of gaki from most of the major woqe o shadow war aqoinst the Daitym in the
cities of Nihon. T wo minor uji - H ouse Genji and cominq years to dislodge them.
H ouse Hiyorumi - have increased in size as a result of
the G empei W ar. The elder of Bishamo n - which The second political axis within the Court of the
dwarfs both Genji and H iyorumi - confidently believe Azure Dragon turns on the matter of mortal rule in the
n either minor house to be a threat. The gaki are inward- M iddle Kingdom. Kang Cho-lu, a respected Thrashing
looking, content to ten d to Nihon to the exclusion of Dragon elder, has begun to circulate a missive entitled
th e rest of the Azure Dragon Court. On the True Nature of the Emperor's Curse and the Hon-
T he W an Kuei of Koryo h ave much more in com- orable Return to Power. Kang's encyclical has a single
mon with those from the Song dynasty or the Jin Empire, thesis: The Wan Xian fell from their place of honor and
as there is far greater commerce and travel among these power not because they dealt with the Yama Kings but
M ighboring states. Tho ugh there is not infinite trust because they abused their power as rulers over mortals.
amon g the wu of the Koryo Pen insula, a recently signed Indeed, Kang believes that only a few Wan Xian traf-
treaty known as the Agreement of Three holds great ficked with the Yama Kings ac all-or why, he asks, are
promise. Jn it , the W an Kuei of Koryo agree that trade all Wan Kuei not now akuma?
and commerce between vampires of the mainland and On the True Nature states that the Wan Kuei must
thoseofNihon is desirable; sin ce both sides depend on openly seize the thrones of mortal kingdoms and return
the vampires of the peninsula for safe travel, signers of the Middle Kingdom to a time of wise, benevolent rule by
the agreement are sure to earn plenty of profit in jade an d immortals. This righteous action will attract the Heav-
s laves. This profitlets the vampires of Koryo pay greater enly Emperor's attention, and after watching for a time to
attention co their primary problem: the Ferocious People see that the Wan Kuei are truly repentant and intend to
of the jungles, who hold many sacred C h i sites that the rule over the mortals as he intended, surely he wi II rescind
Wan Kuei desire. this terrible curse.
40
$Bji5 @
Kang does not have as many followers as one might the south. This being seems largely content to be left
think, given the intensity of the debates surrounding his alone, but the Empress of the Scarlet Phoenix Court is
missive. But he is a charismatic speaker, especially in one, said to keep a careful eye on the Chi flow near the delta
on,one conversations, and when he leaves a city, his of the Mekong River, watching for the mystic tremors
entourage is often larger than it was when he arrived. that will herald the creature's 1re.

From the Commentaries of Lun Ouran: T Sc.ut_l.11'".PHOnux. eou__,...


not surpnsinqly. the western mondonm support The Scarlet Phoenix Court is tom between the wild,
Kang. even if they do not entirely aqree with him. They Yang,dominated jungles that fill the Kingdoms of Angkor,
masK their support as simple tolerance of a shilled Nangzhao ahd Dai Viet, and hubs of civilization like the
teacher. but erlend no such allowances to Kanq Cho- cities of Battambang and Hue. Empress Oyanang holds
lu sfonnentudent Do ji Hirumo. A qahlof House Genji, court near a dragon nest high atop Phnom A oral; mimick,
Doji holds that the Celestial Emperor never amed the ing the traditions of the Ferocious People, visitors must
Won Kuei at all: he suqqesh - to the horror of most - provide the empress with a valuable gift before admit,
that the fmperorhm had littfe interestin the affairs ofthe tance into her court's halls.
Won )(ion or Won Kuei. lnsteod, Doji Hirumo believes More than one wu of the Scarlet Phoenix Court has
that oppressed mortals overthrew corrupt and sel~sh peaceful relations with the Ferocious People of the jungles;
Wan Xian, and that mortal sorcerers laid the ame upon these understandings are forged through the strength of
the Ten Thousand Immortals in rebibution for their personal trust andbonor rather than a widespread accep,
oorruptrule. The western mondonm disliKe this wheres( tance of another race of shen. For instance, the Golden
that undennines their dreams of power and waste few Shroud wu unselfishly saved the life of the Zhong Lung
opportunities to hunt Do ji Hirumo. Whether or not he dragon-changer known as Nongkhai some 20 years ago,
speoKs the truth is a question they have not even and Nongkhai remains on nearly friendly terms with that
bothered to mK. wu. But other Wan Kuei should step lightly; I am told that

....,.. The~gon Coudevetituallydisintegrates


a young Thrashing Dragon approached Nongkhai rather
noncha1ancly some years ago and became part ofthe Zhong
Lupg's dawn greeting to the rising sun.
Wan Kuei of the Court of the South change their
into camps.of~ warlords ~'Ranese and Korean names from the ones they used in life by the end of their
storyp~ comfng Of,ie Fifth Age brings time as Running Monkeys. Centuries of tradition enforce
orany
with itdl.e end civility between thegaki and the this rule. Many change their names immediately upon
R6f'Y Dead ofthe mainland. The gaki control the drawing the Second Breath - this has the advantage of
...,.,......w,.. Dragon Court when the turning of the age hiding the vampire from demon hunters - but all have
Pl)g;I~ and mee~ of the court are held on Nihon chosen a new name by 60 or so years into their unlives.
'tither ~an'l'h~ ma&nland by this time. Few mainfand, So long as a wu comes annually to pay its respects to
g_s.at court atthe end of the Founh -6.ge survive more Empress Dyanang, for the most part she leaves it to find
th8fl a few nig~ Nihon; Korean survivors ofthese its own path. She is no monarch or despot; like many
so;.called Sky Serpent purges e~ally travel south ancient Wan Kuei, Dyanang spends much of her time
andnelp form the Quincunx. looking inward, rather than allowing partisan issues of
Kang's movement dies when he does, a victim of the dead to frustrate her and draw her further away from
the Sky S~r.purges. the path to Heaven.
More minor dragon nests fill the jungles of the south
than the Scarlet Phoenix Court h as wu to defend. Several
wu, including the Harmonious Thieves and the notori,
Most dragon nests in the south are in the jungles, ously unbalanced Dragon,Tiger wu, run circuits through
rather than on the coastline or high in the hills or even several nests, protecting them from mortals, other Wan
near cities such as Battambang or Angkor. The Wall Kuei courts and Xiong Ren. Unlife in these Corpse
thins precipitously as one passes through the jungle; Families is frantic, violent and short.
travelers have found themselves launched headlong The Scarlet Phoenix Court as a whole is not on good
onto a battlefield in the Yang Realm of Fighting Spirits terms with the Court of the Yellow Emperor; as the Jin and
or simply in the Mirror,Land reflection of the physical Xixia push the Southern Song from the north, vampires
world's jungle. Friendly Yang spirits - not always avail, of the Center Court expand their reach southward into
able - have led mortals back to their homes when Scarlet Phoenix territory, attempting to seize unpro,
approached humbly. Unfriendly Yang spirits have de, tected minor dragon nests and jade deposits. Wu of the
voured more than one unwary traveler. two courts ha~e come to blows repeatedly since the
Reports have trickled northward from the Scarlet establishment of Xingjai at the city of Linan. Elders of
Phoenix Court that a true dragon lives in the jungles of both courts remember similar conflict erupting two
(win-_ Ot(H ~'Duo 0.-1111 ~DDlf ~Gt(
Fii' ~-----------------
~

centuries ago, at the fall of the T ang dynasty, and subtly TheCourt of the White Tiger itself controls a-second
encourage Running Monkeys to take centuries-delayed major dragon nest in the west; the new ancestor, Emperor
Da has moved the court to the dragon nest on the shores
revenge for those wars. of the Lake of the Heavens, an incredibly cold, breathtak-
ingly beautiful glacier-fed body of water. Emperor Da
welcomes any Wan Kuei to partake of the Chi flow of the
Tianohi dragonnest; not surprisingly, he forbids any Wan
Kuei to follow the line that runs from it due south in the
direction of the Himalayas.

THE- WllJft 1Tc;~ CoU9'_T"


The Court of the White Tiger is attempting to reor-
ganize itself as quickly as it can manage in the wake of
Empress Fan's unexpected departure into the h igh moun-
tain country. The Himalayas have never been safe for our
kind, populated as they are by Lightning People and the
Ferocious People - the native people of the world-
bearing mountains do not often return to take the Second
Breath, so the White Tiger Court has no native highland-
ers"among its number. And the highest mountains in the
world- which surely these must be - contain a number
of powerful dragon nests. According to legend, the Court
In the realm of the White Tiger, which run.s from of the West has sent invading wu up the mountains more
the Takla Makan Desert south info India, there are than once, but those sent have not returned sane.
numerous holy and dreaded sites. The dragon nests Empress Fan, the esteemed ancestor of the court, left
here in the west tend to be somewhat smaller than her estate only a few hours before sunrise on a spring
those in the rest of the Middle Kingdom; elder Wan morning some two years-ago. Her last words to her beloved
Kuei speak of the Himalayan Range as a Chi-devourer. disciple Feng Li wan were: "The frozen sky bears a plentiful
And indee~ the flow of the world's energy seems to harvest; the onrushing torrent carries only pain; beware, for
back this up, as many dragon lines run from western soon the knives of eternal fire shall fall; I could no more
nests directly toward the Himalayas. resist this call than I can the rush of my heart's blood."
The T akla Makan-the name means "those who come Empress Fan has nor been seen since.
indonotcomeout",,-ishosttotwomajordragonnesrs. The Currently, the Court of the White Tiger is split into
first is located among the Flaming Mountains, outside of a few factions, while its new leadership attempts to build
Dunhuang; the site itself is said to have once been a gateway unity. Emperor Da, a Uigur of the Resplendent Crane
to Tou Mu's Hell of Being Skinned Alive, cleared and Dharma, has coaxed enough of the western Wan Kuei
sanctified by the Wan Xian.near the end of the Third Age. into supporting him that he claims leadership of the court.
Mortal travelers frequent the Shengjin Pass through the
Dadoes not have a pleasant task before him. Empress
mountains and occasionally fall victim to the hungers of the
Fan enjoyed the support of the Homs oflcewu, five elders
Wan Kuei who control the dragon nest now.
with vast influence in the lands around Kashi. She kept a
The second nest is the property of the Ferocious humble home and garnered the respect ofmany Wan Kuei
People; it is a relatively short' distance from the Flaming younger than she; she acted as mentor to at least one
Mountains, at Crescent Moon Lake. This body instills member of each of the majorwu in the West. By contrast,
great confidence in the seers of the Ferocious People, for Da resides in a splendid palace filled with riches and
it truly is carved in an almost mathematically precise sycophantic mortal and unliving servants. This has made
crescent moon. It is undoubtedly a sign from the goddess it very difficult for him to gain a secure hold on power. He
in the moon, but the meaning of that sign is a subject of has yet to discern the threads that connect the Flying
some debate. Tiger wu to the White Bone Society wu, for example, and
Tue Flaming Mountain and Crescent Moon dragon it is not clear to those below him whether he wishes them
nests are rather unoomfortably close to one another. Al- to remain in their current positions within the court.
though no dragon line runs between them any longer, armed In fact, Da has begun to assign various wu to different
conflict between the groups in each nei;t is common. Only parts of the west than those they have traditionally
one law restrains the two nests' inhabitants: No combat in occupied. He has uprooted the Darkness Eaters, who have
the oases. The oases ai:e for all to use and have been since the lived in Kashi for as long as any of them can remember and
Third Age; bandits who stake a claim in one of the oases of sent them to Urumuqi, quire close to Da's own court at
the T al<laMakan mayfmd themselves on the sharp end ofan Lake Tianchi. Some whisper that Da might never take
assault by Wan Kuei and Ferocious People. direct action against those Wan Kuei whom he dislikes,
42 --- ........
- ~-------------........"""""'""""....,,.,....~-ewvw:::::::_::---.
but he will put them _in difficult or dangerous situations in Age), a century after Shihuangdi's death, gave the Lord of
order to let them fat! and replace them. It is a different the Dead the leverage he needed to destroy much of the
style_~anFan'sandonethatthedemonsofthewestseem court proper. Today, Mount Li is-defended against the
unw1llmg to accept. Wan Kuei by thousands of ghosts loyal to the Ghost
Da does rely on the advice of Fan's favored disciple Emperor, and the vampires have made the concession of
Feng Liwan; Feng himself has a better relationship with moving their court to the old lmperial Palace within
much of the court than Da does, although he insists that Changan proper.
he is not prepared to take any kind of leadership role. The presence of ghosts and the air of the underworld
oppresses one less as one moves outward from Changan.
Several other cities - notably Kaifeng, N ingxia and
Linan -host supernatural creatures of all stripes. A cabal
of hsien in Xianqiang maintains good relations with the
bodhisattvas of the Shaolin Monastery, while simulta-
neously plotting against the Wan Kuei in N ingxia itself,
leading many observers to assume that the bodhisattvas
themselves are on bad terms with Boulin Tan, the ances-
tor of the Ningxia Court. The bodhisattvas, in typically
cryptic fashion, only say that Ningxia's end days ap-
proach. Rumors- abound that l>Jezumi rat-men escaped
from the Jin sacking of Kaifeng with more gold and silver
than any of the invaders or former residents did. As the
lh&IJl(Y Song Empire's capital-in-exile, Linan has swelled in popu-
lation in recent years and, like a well-fattened pig, the city
Emperor Dn attempt to t;mng peace to the
attracts hungryvisitoi;s from across the Middle Kingdom.
Court of the White Tiger fails; within a decade,
-~- three separate courts of the west compete for true
authority. The rise of the Black Tortoise court and
r111~EU.OW hitt~o~ Cou~
The Court of the Yellow Emperor, at the heart of the
the.swath of destruction carved by its mortal breth-
Middle Kingdom, rightly sees itself as the center of all
ren, the Mongols, destroy dozens of White Tiger
suI,?ematural activity. Though the imperial capital has
Wan Kuei. The survivors join the Quincunx. Em-
moved from Changan to Kaifeng to Linan, the Court ofthe
press Fan's fate remains unknown.
Yellow Emperor has not moved from the labyrinths of
Changan in thousands of years.
The ancestors of the court seem content to let the
mortal world roil around them; they do not let the succes-
In the Fourth Age alone, humans have lived in the
sion of emperors or even dynasties stir them to great
core ofChina for more than 4,000 years; uncountable tens
emotion as they circle around their private goals. The wu
of thousands of years have passed since the creation of the
at the heartofthe Courtofthe Yellow Emperor, the Golden
Middle Kingdom itself, and people are said to have lived
Jade Society, does not speak of a glorious final goal for the
in the center of China as long as the land has been
court itself, nor does it spend much time addressing the
separate from Heaven. Over the course of chose years,
needs of the wu that make up the court. The Wan Kuei of
mortal geomancers-fang shih- have used their abilities
the Golden Jade Society are introspective to the point of
to discern the best resting place for their emperors' bodies.
real ignorance of the world around them.
The result of such analysis is that the strongest dragon
nests in the center of China have emperors' tombs built Yellow Emperor Wang Hongben is the eldest of the
within them. This does not pose a problem for the Wan Golden Jade Society, and he seems nearest to The
Kuei, half-dead as they are, but it does mean that the Hundred Clouds; he follows the Thousand Whispers
major nests of the center are strongly aspected toward Yin, Dharma, and his ever-changing bearing makes it diffi-
and indeed, in more than one such tomb, the Wall is so cult for less enlightened Wan Kuei to have meaningful
thin as to allow unwary mortals to wander into the lands conversations with him; when far from court certain
of the dead. Running Monkeys suggest that he is mad rather than
enlightened, but other than the arhats and bodhisattvas,
The most powerful dragon nest in the center of the
who can cell the difference? The others in his wu - one
Middle Kingdom is home to the resting place of Emperor
for each direction -encircle him, metaphorically speak-
Qin Shihuangdi. The Wan Kuei controlled the Mount Li
ing. Each of them vies for Wang Hongben's favor more
~est for hundreds of years before Emperor Shihuangdi's
than any other thing; the Golden Jade Wan Kuei only
death a millennium ago, but the unexpected loss of Wan
tend to external concerns when out of favor with their
Kuei Emperor Ai Loyu at the hands of one of the Great
leader. It is said that one of them desires his downfall and
Devourers (ancient chih~mei from the dawn of the Fourth
that two ofthe others are secretly lovers, but then, gossip
roils around the Court of the Yellow Emperor like flies
~--------------ii!-. . . . ~~""!'---~--'::::
on rotting meac.
In the effective absence ofleadership from the Golden
Jade wu, several other wu, most notably the Amber Wren
and Bronze Pennant, manage derails such as relations with
the other four August Courts, the Xiong Ren Beast Courts
and other societies of shen. Other wu are assigned the cask
of educating promising hin, and still others attend co more
mundane affairs. The absence of central authority can
sometimes leave wu without the support of their fellows;
years ago, for instance, a shadowy band of Xiong Ren and
hsien did away with the Homed Tigers of Kaifeng in the
chaos of that city's conquest by the Jin.
Two other loci dominate Wan Kuei activity in the
Court of the Yellow Emperor: Linan, the Song dynasty
capital in exile, and Shaolin Monastery, home to the Sages
of the Fivefold Way. The Blissful lee Daggers ofLinan tend
to Wan Kuei interests in the Southern Song imperial coun.
They ruthlessly conaol access to the eunuchs and bureau;
crats of the court there; few Wan Kuei leave Linan without
earning a debt to the Blissful lee Daggers.Astute observers
suggest that the Daggers hold the leash of so many favors
that they Wldennine the authority of the Golden Jade
Society in Changan. Another wu, the Silver Lock, com;
pounds its 1ong tenure among the merchants ofLinan with
the recent influx of mortals from all over the empire to
create one of the gteatest mercantile companies in all of the
Middle Kingdom. The Corpse Family that worries me most
of all is the Warriors of the Hebei Plain wu. Composed
entirely of Jurchens, they are on cordial terms with the
other wu of the city, but I suspect they are in Linan to help
further the cause of the Jin Empire and bring down the
Song. This could create a dangerous opportunity for north;
em rivals.
The, Sages of the Fivefold Way are simultaneously the
most and least influential Wan Kuei ofthe MiddleKingdom.
No vampires are more widely renowned for wisdom and
enlighrenmencthanthesefive,cloisceredawayattheShaolin
Monastery. But at the same time, they do not sully their
hands with mortal or Wan Kuei politics. A badow war
between two wu, for instance, is no matter to bring to the of the songs of Heaven and the torments of Hell, we Ten
Sages. These beings are concerned with peC80na1 enlighten; Thousand Demons are intimately familiar with the vari-
ment and ascension, as fits the name bodhisanva: They have ous reaches ofthe spirit world- at least, with the Yin and
chosen co halt in their personal quests for enlightenment in Yang Realms and Yomi Wan; most of us no longer speak
order to guide others along the path to The Hundred C louds. of Heaven.
The lllustrious Scribes of the Yellow River wu buffers the
Sages from mundane distractions; they run errands for the Tiff ~,._ Wo"-LD
masters and control others' access to them. The Yin World lies within and below the realm of the
physical. It is a dark place, hollow with the death;energies
"~Al.MS OF' THE- SPJ~ of Yin, and the final resting place of all things in the void
of Oblivion. At the same time, it is quiec and peaceful.
Treatise by Xiang Xiwei, Western Mask of the The young Wan Kuei should remember that Yin is not
Many Faces Wu evil; it is merely an end to change. Scores of realms
The Middle Kingdom is a vast place for the Wan populate the tempestuous void of Yin, the gteatest of
Kuet. While many mortals never leave their home village, which is the Yellow Springs, controlled by Yu Huang,Jade
vampires aavel with impunity, provided they can find a Emperor of the Dead. There are many other realms of
safe place to spend the day. And w~ile mortals may speak interest, however.
....... c;oFi.OM ....
This sectioa provides 'Only a brief overview of
some notable sp~'it realms, ones more accessible in
the Fourth Age than in the Fifth. Further informa-
tion on the Yellow Springs (the largest of the Yin
Realms) also appears in Chapter Six.
Storytellers who want more information on
the worlds beyond the Wall, should first consult
Kindred of the East. From there, they can brach
our to a variety ofother supplements, such as Dark
JOngdom of Jade (for the Yin World in general and
the Yellow Springs specifically), Umbra: The Heavenly Palace, twist it into Hell and use it as a base of
Velvet Shadow (for the Yang World, although operations in his campaigns against the former servitors of
with a Western slant) and The Thousand Hells Heaven and the other Yama Kings.
(for Yomi Wan). But the servants of Heaven - the hsien, the Fero-
cious People and even a few still-loyal Wan Kuei-built
ffota OF"" TM Ff......._ BLOSSOM ramparts and barricades to keep the forces of Yomi Wan
at bay. The battle lasted for weeks; eventually, Dou
In the dying days of the Third Age, a mortal woman
Tingzhang himselfstepped forward to face Zhao Fenzhan,
named Tien Lu, who'd walked close to death her entire
an aged, powerful weretiger, in single combat. That
life, entered the spirit world on a quest to become immor-
battle, it is said, took the better part of a day, and it laid
tal and escape death's predation for all time. Her travels
waste to much of the libraries' grounds and many of the
took her into the Yang Realms and, eventually, ro a high
libraries themselves. Finally, at the point of death, Zhao
mountaintop, to the Everlasting Tree. Only one flower invoked the Heaven Thunder Hammer and drove Dou
remained on the vast tree's branches. As Tien Lu reached
back to Hell, where he was later set upon by his peers and
for that blossom, the tree itself spoke to her, saying: "In
tom to shreds.
this flower lives the last of my life, and as the Everlasting
The Shards of the Imperial Libraries float in the Yin
Tree dies, so does this kingdom. Are you truly heartless
Realm. Each library building (there are 11) and its grounds
enough to take it from me?'1
are present, even though some buildings are not intact or
Tien Lu, old and suspicious, laughed. "You try to
even usable; the weeks of fighting combined with the
deceive me, old tree, for this kingdom lies in the heart of
maelstrom of Zhao's final combat with Dou destroyed
Yang, and you simply wish to keep your own power." With
most of the structures of the compound. Zhao's burial
a smile, she plucked the last blossom from the Everlasting
cairn occupies a position of honor near the center of the
Tree and ate it. As she hiked down the mountain, air
realm it was the last thing constructed by the libraries'
rushed past her; green grass turned to gray ash, which defenders before they left in the aftermath ofDou's defeat.
scuffed into clouds as she walked upon it. Tien Lu, last of
On the whole, the Shards are quiet places of
the Wan Xian, left the Home of the Final Blossom as it
contemplation and study. A handful of buildings re-
swung from Yang to Yin.
main intact enough that sufficiently driven Wan Kuei
Today, the Home of the Final Blossom is airless; any
can enter and find ancient scrolls or simply sit and
mortal entering it would certainly suffocate, and there is no meditate in peace.
wind to carry sound to living or dead ears. The realm is
Chorales of former librarians parade through the
waterless, too; spaces that were once rivers and lakes are now
ruins; they can no longer see or read, but the text of
inky and black voids; some of the largest "lakes" brim with
scrolls and books from their sections within the library
Yin Chi. Trees, grass and fantastic creatures stand motion-
are pressed onto their skin. The chorales have been
less; they are no more than beautiful sculptures of ash now,
together for thousands of years now; each of them kno'":'s
destroyed by the slightest contact. The Everlasting Tree still
all of the words inscribed on all of the members of their
stands atop its mountain; it, too, is a pile ofash, but those that
chorale, and as they slowly wander from half-burned
taste Chi in the air can sense tantalizing fragments of Yang
building to collapsed husk, they sing or chant those
energies wafting past - perhaps this is the last touch of the
active Celestial Emperor in the universe. words. Not all of their songs are derived from poetry,
mind you; a particularly dreary chant is simply a calendar
THE Stt&R,Ds or-TM JMPQJAl... lJa.._,n marking the proper times for a farmer to hoe, plant, weed
ln the earliest days of the Fourth Age, the Yama King and harvest. The chorales are not entirely monomania-
Dou Tingzhang, Mutilator of the Unfaithful, staged an cal; they will stop if confronted and speak (usually in a
attack on the August Personage's libraries; his intention was droning singsong) if addressed.
to sever the vast library compound from the rest of the
45
@ ;
r.- YI~~ ~DOM oF"FU v,
Fu Yi was once a thriving kingdom on the ocean's coast,
in the mortal world. Irs Wan Xian kings and lords built
towering stone and wooden buildings, soaring bridges and
gracefully spired temples; they were philosopher-kings and
warrior-p0ers. Fu Yi had numerous cities and a population in
the hundreds of thousands. This, ofcourse, was before chaos
and madn struck the Wan Xian.
When the Wan Xian made war on each other, the
very earth of Fu Yi trembled. As months of fighting
passed, astute mortals noticed the sea's slow rise, the
perpetual flooding of major rivers and great valleys
blasted out where mountain ranges once stood. On the
fifth day of the fifth month of the last year of the Third
Age, the lands of Fu Yi gave a great shuddering heave
and submerged beneath the ocean floor and into the
Yin Realm. Today, no sign remains of the kingdom in
the mortal world; the remains of its beautiful buildings
entered the Yin Realm rather than remaining on the
sea floor.
Thousands of mottals drowned, of course, and hun-
dreds remained attached to Fu Yi as ghom when it slid
across the Wall. The kingdom itself remains quite flooded,
even in the Yin Realm; seawater rises far above the grandest
spire of Fu Yi. The ghos of the Land acclimarizecl to their
new surroundings remarkably quickly and sec about their
moistafter! ives with surprising vigor. Their fl rst step was to
restore their n ation's former beauty, and they have long
since completed that process.
The subjects of the Undying King of Fu Yi elected
themselves a new king in the underworld, and although the
king has been replaced more than once, the passage of
power has largely been peaceful. ThepopulationofFu Yi no
longer increases-perhaps a shipwreck every generation or
two comribuces to the ranks of the drowned dead here, but
no more than that. Yin spirits, malevolent and benign, pass
through the realm on occasion and are met with a response
appropriate to their nature.
The ghosts of Fu Yi have watched the rise of the
Yellow Spr ings Realm since the death of Qin
Shihuangdi, and they are no friends to the Jade Empire.
Fu Yi is far smaller than Yu Huang's realm, of course,
and would be crushed in an outright war. However, the
ghosts of Fu Yi retain three large advantages over those
of the self-styled Jade Emperor: They are truly ancient
ghosts who do not, apparently, face the worst dangers
of Oblivion and, so, are individually very powerful;
their kingdom is a three-dimensional maze of water in
which the forces of Yu Huang are at a great tactical
disadvantage; and they refuse co take to the field,
fighting only when it suits them, in ambush, assassina-
tion and harassment, spending the rest of the time
submerged where most wraiths cannot follow.
II.Doi 111.i.
46~~~~-----------~--------~--~----------------._.------~~~
smelting and to return with news of the world. More chan
one truly old bodhisarrva recognizes Ru Shou's servants,
and those ancient ones know that a sword crafted by Ru
Shou could be a powerful tool, if placed in the right hands.

l.u(DI OF"'THI ~~.... MOUJTUDH


Travelers' tales of ancient China speak of dozens of
strange kingdoms, populated by peoples who no longer exist.
Storiesspeak ofpeople with no heads, with their faces on their
abdomen, or those with two heads or those with one head and
two bodies or dozens ofother strange variations. These beings
have saange habits and saanger dietary requirements: Some
could eat only the inedible parts ofanimals and relished meals
of fur, claws and bones, while others were (eStricted to con-
sume only spring wheat and so on.
These beings and their dozens of kingdoms -which
Tu YAtl~ W'o-._LD traded and made war with human kingdoms on a regular
basis during the Third Age. - do still exist; they are
The Yang World floats above the physical plane. It collectively known as the Lands of the Freakish Multi-
is well-lit an<l alive with untold thousands of spirits, a tudes, in the Yang Realm. These lands, more spirit than
bright reflection of the mortal world. H owever, just as material even in the Third Age, are now kept apart from
Yin is not synonymous w1ch evil, the reader should nor the mortal wotld by the Celestial Emperor's Wall, through
believe chat Yang is synonymous with good; there is which few can pass.
wickedness it'I. the Yang World. Like its counterpart, the A continuous flow of Yang Chi permeates the Freak-
Yang World is home to councless realms. Unlike Yin, ish Lands; this energy sustains many strange creatures that
there is no truly dominant realm, only countless places long ago died out in the physical world. And rumor has it
of won<ler and danger. Some of the most interesting that even more. surprising beings inhabit these realms.
include the following: According to the semi-mythical A Drunken TTa'1eler's
l\EAlK OF 11& CftmJM 8~8fJ11t Journal, the Wan Xian were not only chosen from the
ranks of humankind but also from some of these bizarre
When the August Personage of Jade dissolved the
races. And unreliable reports in the Beast Court ofXinjiang
perfect universe into contested re.alms of Yin and Yang,
suggest chat a handful these immortals remain, hiding out
the Fust Celestial Craftmastcr, Ru Shau, built his forge
where the Wall and the copious flow of Yang Chi protect
in che lands of the south. Ru Shou brought the arc of
them from the. fire of the August Personage's curse. These
smelting metal to the people of the Middle Kingdom and
tales might simply serve to hide a darker truth, however;
so became especially venerated; because metal was first
no reliable Wan Kuei witness has returned with such a
used to make weapons, Ru Shou became known as the
tale from these lands.
God of Punishment.
As the Yin and Yang Realms spiraled further apart, rn ~CfDOH' OF"' Ffll\~ .us10..-
Ru Shau himself became tom; he needed both metal and Yang Chi is, in its most basic sense, life energy. Ir
fire to forge weapons for the greatest of the Celestial pushes the c:iger to chase down che deer, while it pushes
Emperor's servants. Ru Shou saw the slow rise of the eaters the deer to run from the tiger.1t drives away disease and
of cursed Chi among the Wan Xian and equipped the sustains the farmer in his toils. And it exhorts all things
dragons and hsien who served him with his finest weapons that live to reproduce and expand their lineage. The
before closing off his vast estate to the Ten Thousand Kingdom of Fiery Passions embodies that last urge; ic is a
Immortals. The servitors of Ru Shou fought corrupt in- land where the only imperative is to couple, procreate and
vader Wan Xian for decades and finally repelled the couple again.
demons early in the Fourth Age. The term "kingdom" is perhaps an inaccurate name
Now, thousands of years lacer, Ru Shou has begun to for this place. There is no sovereign, no bureaucracy.
send his servants out inco the Middle Kingdom to see what The air carries the warm, green scent of early spring;
changes have been wrought. The God of Punishment has forests and valleys thrive with life.Tens of thousands of
long since run out of metal, with his estate now deep in the spirits fill this place, and the number grows annually.
Yang Realm, and while he has kept busy firing rruly Animal spirits mate without consideratio n co species,
beautiful pots-and even more fantastic works, including and their offspring show a jumbled hybrid of their
one chariot worked from the very clouds - he has in- parents' traits. Some Wan Kuei suspect that chis realm is
structed his servants to bring him fine copper and bronze for the true homeland of the Ferocious People, but -
ew.. Otis~ DU8 Of'. . . . . .DDll ~ 67
perhaps not surprisingly-few of them are willing to sit the foundation: See below); Oanoru Ka, King of the
down to a discussion on the subject. Never-lit Cavern; Ravana, the lord ofLankai Emma-o,
A few Thrashing Dnigons have made a permanent lord of a N ihonjin Hell; Rangda, Queen of Plagues; and
home ofthis place. They can feed on the Yang energies of T ou Mu, the. Iron Empress. Of these, not all useakuma;
local spirits and spend their days in sybaritic hedonism. Bao Zhong and T ou Mu never do, and Rangda uses
Wan Kuei who are not Yang-unbalanced find the place them sparingly.
rather uncomfortable, despite the temptation of a long
term scarlet cycle. The Thrashing Dragons who reside
here - the Scarlet Forest wu - haye given birth to During the Age of Legend, while the land flourisheCI
numerous dhampyr children, who seem inured to the under the protection of the Wan Xian, a great innovation
flood of life-energy around them. sprung up in the furthest reaches of the Middle Kingdom..
Under the guiding hand of the immortals, the great city of
~OMJ WAtt Harappa arose on the plains of the Indus River. The city
The Thousand Hells are the repository for much of boasted a population of 50,000 craftsmen, merchants,
the evil of the mortal world. Yomi Wan does not cause the soldiers and officials. This was no village of ox carts, no
wickedness of the world; instead, much as the Yang Realm rustic fortification for some brutish tribal king - it was a
reflects the mortal world's life energies, Yomi Wan re beacon of refinement and contentment built toward the
fleets and focuses the mortal world's corruption. Few souls s~ with bricks and mortar, gold and ivory. lt was only a
would choose to enter one of the Thousand Hells; those matt"Cr of time before Harappa caught the baleful eye of the
that do are either mad, driven to power-lust or intend to Ya.ma.Kings.
flee as quickly as possible. This creation of the Wan Xian and mortals was an
irresistible target for the Yama Kings. After ages ofdefeat
r. 1-DS or fhu. after resounding defeat at the hands of the Ten Thou-
IfThe Black Scrolls of Xia are to be believed, the Yama sand lmmo~ls, an army of demons ripped through the
Kings seized lands from Heaven and Earth and both the fabric of the spirit world to set foot in the Middle
Yin and Yang Realms co create YomiWan. Certainly, the Kingdom for the first time in centuries -and to sack the
Wan Kuei speak of "lost vistas" that now can only be city-of H arappa.
visited in Bell, The people of Harappa put up a valiant fight, caking
Each Yama King has seized his own territory; either to the field in charior.s, armed and armored with glinting
he ripped it away from another realm in the Second or iron. But for all their military regalia, they were not
Third Age or has since destroyed a hell's founder and warriors -.- they were artists, traders and scholars. The
claimed that land as h is own. By now, most Yama Kings forces of Hell cut through them like a scythe through a
are firmly ensconced in their respeccive hells, with spies field, until their immortal champions joined the fray. The
everywhere; when rumblings of insurrection begin, the resulting battle was cataclysmic - the seas boiled, rivers
Yama Kings know who to execute. leapt from their beds, the earth itself bucked and heaved.
Few of even the most powerful demons give thought The Wan Xian were victorious in the end, destroying
co conquering a hell for themselves. That i noc to say hordes of demons and forcing the rest co retreat. When
that, for instance, Yargra the Many-Mouthed gives no the surviving defenders finally put down their swords to
thought to creating a hell of her own. Yargra' servants look around, the river valley was devastated for hundreds
explore the mortal, Yin and Yang Realms in search of of miles in every direction. Their beautiful city was gone,
lands that could serve as the foundation for new hells. In entire sections of it pulled co Yomi Wan by the greedy
the ancient days, the Wan Xian might havenoticed these talons of the Yama Kings.
machinations and struck against the demon dukes and It was not long after this crushing loss that the
barons. But the Wan Xian are long gone. Perhaps the corruption of the Wan Xian began. Some later Wan
gods' old servants the hsien or the Ferocious People might Kueischolars claim thatMahanaga Visparakni was among
stand against these not-yet Yama Kings. the benefactors of Harappa and a survivor of the battle
with the Yama Kings. Crushed by the loss of his beloved
YAM& l:ptc;s Al(D TM llEus city, he began a search for power - power enough to
We assume, perhaps wrongly, chat the best known have made a difference, enough co have saved the
Yama Kings are also among the most powerful. Today, mo rtals under his protection. If this is true, then un~
the most powerful Yama Kings would be Bao Zhong, doubtedly power is what the Yama Queen Tou Mu
ruler of the Hell of Undying Sorrow, Mikaboshi, lord of offered him - and the first akuma found out the price
the Wicked City (of which Harappa may well provide too late.
... As cranes trail off in flight, silent,
Wolves snarl ooer their kill. 1 brood on
Our wars , sleepless here and, to right
A relentless Heaven and Earth, powerless.
- Du Fu, "Overnight at the Riverside Tower"

Ever since the fall of Mount Meru, the shinning


citadel of the Ten Thousand Immortals, the Wan Kuei
have struggled to find meaning. Grand Arhat Xue, wisest
'f~ (ltz'Et.\'T ?~lNCl'PCE
of all the Hungry Dead, laid down the foundations of the fiE Wa oF Omuc;111
Road Back at the twilight of rhe Third Age. His wisdom Remember whence you camt, for it is the un-
is remembered in the Fivefold Way and the five orthodox changing whole Of 'our purpo_se.
Dharmas.
r.. Wu OF' .....EAC;E
,..-
. . FfvlFoLD YI& Hted well those who have come before, and respect
ihose who come after, for they are all part of the truth.
Xue's first and greatest teaching to the Wan Kuei is
the Fivefold Way. This isacoresetofbeliefs-someti.mes
called the Great Principle - that theoretically guides aU
r .. "'A'I or ,ICTEC;IUTY
Maintain your honor and oust inall thought, word
the Hungry Dead of the Middle Kingdom. In the Five iJnd dttd, for the behavior of one affects me entire
August Courts, every vampire learns the Fivefold Way as community.
part of their training as hin, just after emerging from the
cannibalistic chih,mei stage. Interpretations vary widely 1iia YjU OF' 0RJc;&TJO..
from court to court and from teacher to teacher, but Xue's Understand :YOUr duties to your brethren, to the
teachings form the underpinning of the court structure forces of che universe and t.o yourself. and do all r.o
itself; only ancestors looking to be removed do not at least fulfill them .
pay lip service to the Great Principle .
Storytellers may wish to refer to Kindred of the T'I& YiAll. OF"ft'-.OP"'nY
East, pp. 38-41, for a discu, ion of these same beliefs in Practice correcmess in all yo do, for che Gre.ac
the Fifth Age. Cycle, in u.s etery aspt!ct. has its own nature, and that
nature must be followed.
50 llOOD flu:.
~~~--------iiiiiiiii;--lliiiiii--------------(il ,
In the Age of Beautiful Sadness, the Great Principle return the August Courts' scorn and see Xue' teach-
institutionalizes the court hierarchy and flavors Wan ings as flawed or even foolish. They argue that their
Kuei sociecy with nostalgia. Ancestors and mandarins cite way is better than. the orthodoxy.
the Way of Origin and try to recreate the times when the The era of Blood & Silk is a moment of tolerance for
Ten Thousand Immortals were demigods ruling great the less stringent of the heretics. Those who embrace the
kingdoms. Of course, the Wan Xian were rheir own Fivefold Way are technically welcome in the August
undoing millennia ago, and thi lesson too is part of the Courts, even if their beliefs are unorthodox. These:iher-
Way of Origin. 'Those vampires who advocate a with- etics can and do hold prominent positions in some courts
drawal from mortal affairs say that the fall of Mounc Meru and attract fo llowers. They all operate at a disadvantage,
clearly means that ruling as kings is inappropriate. however. A heretic must prove her loyalty and worth
The other elements of the Great Principle all serve again and again, and when things tum sour, she is invari-
to reinforce the system of the Five August Courts and ably blamed. Wise heretics accumulate l'lvors owed to
the power of the mandarins and ancestors who rule them, keep their eyes open for betrayal and always have an
them. The young must respect the old; the young have escape route planned.
a duty to the court; the young must act honorably- and
toe the line. Mandarins have all the same obligations in lhl\H PC BIUW
theory, but they need only pay lip service to the prin- AttheendoftheFourthAge, the following heretical
ciple of respecting the young - a perfect recipe for Dharmas are most prominent. Their beliefs and practices
building tension. are largely as they are in the Fifth Age (see Kindred of the
The nightly realities are less polarized, of course. East Companion, pp. 47-59), but their members find it
Many Wan Kuei spend only a bit oftheir time at court and easier to move into China and other orthodox areas. Note
thereby avoid a great deal of the frustration of the manda- that the Spirit of the Living Earth Dharma does not come
rins' games. The institution of the wu helps a great deal into being until the 17th century.
because it gives the young allies they can trust. There are The Face of the Gods: The Divine Faces believe
also mandarins who know that disciples and jina have that the Wan Kuei are just as blessed as the Wan Xian
their worth and deserve a (respectful) voice at court. were,elevateddem.igodsinsteadofdebaseddemons.They
Nevertheless, the tensions in the courts are starring to strive to further their own divinity, seeking perfection in
have their effect - the Court of the Azure Dragon is all acts and actively encouraging mortal worship. The
slowly collapsing into Nihonjin and mainland factions, Dharma is most numerous in India but has isolated foUow-
and the other courts are not that far behind. ers across the Middle Kingdom. They are the heretics
most likely to be persecuted because of their rejection of
many elements of the Fivefold Way.
The Flame of the Rising Phoenix: Rising Phoe-
Xue's second great contribution to the Wan Kuei was nixes maintain a very strong idemificat ion with their:
the development of the five Dharmas. These philosophies mortal lives. Their ideal is to become not only living again
have become well-worn paths along the Road Back, ways (like Thrashing Dragons) but to reintegrate perfectly
for some of the Ten Thousand Demons to redeem them- with their past mortal existences. They often masquerade
selves before heaven. Without the teachings ofa Dhanna, as human, maintain families and doggedly pursue whac:.
a Wan Kuei is bound co live as a savage, cannibalistic ever unfinished business brought them out of Yomi. The
wretch and return screaming to Yomi. The Hungry Dead Rising Phoenix is very popular in India but has adherents
owe their very survival to Xue and his teachings, or so the across the Middle Kingdom. They generally interact well
ancestors say. with other Wan Kuei, mostly because they leave the
unliving to their own affairs.
~RJCALD~ The Tempest of In ward Focus: Tempests believe
Of course, the truth is not quite so simple. There in a rigid balance in all things and are the nomads of the
are a number of vampires who exist without fo llowing Wan Kuci. Unlike the Thousand Whispers, who move
one of the five Dharmas attributed to Xue. They follow from false life to false life, Tempests maintain their own
other paths, which the ancestors of the Five August identity but subject it to contrasting influences. They
Courts brand as heresies. The so-called heretics, of make fine warriors but then indulge in passionate love or
course, feel their beliefs are enti rely justified. Many quiet contemplation co balance themselves. Tempests
argue that their belief systems can coexist with the are spread thinly across the Middle Kingdom, always
traditional Dharmas and emphasize their continued moving from place to place and experience to experi-
adherence to the Fivefold Way. They often argue that ence. They have few outrigh t enemies but almost no sure
their "heresies" are but further extrapolations from allies either.
Xue's own teach ings and, hence, legitimate. Others
D~c MK11AtUcs and those who ha,,e not is lei;s evident rhan in the
closing days of the Fifth Age. Use the Dharma Chart
The piritual progress of the Wan Kuei during the above U1Stead of the one on p. 54 ofKindred of the East.
Fourth Age is more gradual rhan on the storm-wracked As the Fourth Age draws co a close and the Fifth Age
eve of the Age of Sorrow. Yet the great diviue between begins, Storytellers should phase m the mndern Dharma
those who have achieved cranshuman enlightenment by
chart gradually, using the guidelines on page 107.
spendjng more than a human Lifetime on the Road Back
52~~~~--------=---"""-------llllllill~ml!ll---~ ILOOD fit~

T"'HE- HoWL OF' TlfE_ _---, Tigers would meet Final Death rather than be untrue to
their celestially mandated duty, they cite this same.man-

DE-vJLTrc;~
date as the reason they cultivate holy places that are blights
upon the Tapestry and keep bakemono and wicked spirits
as their servants.
\'j~E:-Plo The Devil-Tiger Dharma is administered (if a word
The members ofthe Devil-Tiger Dhannabelieve them- so strong can be used to describe the patina of order
selves to be charged with a holy duty as the scourges of placed upon the chaos of sects and secret societies) by
Heaven. These vampires believe the Yama Kings have a grouping ofbodhisattvas and elderly mandarins called
abandoned their posts as punishers of ini9uity to pursue the August Body of Sagacious Devils. This most distin-
selfish agendas. Rushing up from Yomi like thunderheads, guished college administers a series of rigorous and
the Devils of Heaven have embraced this mission of wick- complicated tests that ensure that high-ranking
edness wholeheartedly, diligently punishing the wicked Devi 1-T ige.rs ~will be competent and educated
and tearing down decaying and unjust social structures. in worldly matters.
Though united in their belief that they are to replace Devil-Tigers are much-
the erring Yama Kings as the enemies of the Devil- eared for their mastery of
Tigers can agree on little else. An an- the Dragon Tear Discipline,
cient ruling by the Five Emperors Chi'iu Muh. A majority of
that the Heavenly Devils can form n;;.-====71~ ~- these vampires learn the
no large organizations combines \\.~..;))\{ ~ Dragon Tear before they
with a doctrine of passion and -=-"L"'c1-:':. ::;s~ 7become jina. It aids these
activity to make the Devil-Tigers -~~ _ \ vampires considerably in
their own worst enemies. Be- '' ~"x ~?their drive to stay abreast
11

yond general agreement on the ~ \ of events. Devil-Tigers are


basic tenets of their Dharma, 0
~~,.t;:"_,,~'-,_ _;:;:;>well-known as visionaries,
there is no consensus among and the prophetic powers of
them. The Dharma is divided the Dragon Tear
into a thousand feudin~
sects and fraternal .or- r1'17

~
ur'i
, z:;t_

Je" are in no small part


1
~ '.esponsibleforthis
ders based on doctnne 1~ # \ atmage.
1
and on the sorts of vie- " ..--
~~ It is said (par-
tims the individual prefers. Some
'3j rt" ticularly by the
Devil-Tigers ruin corrupt offi- 1 /1.J Devil-Tigers
cials, while others pursue those J themselves) that
who abuse their spouses and if') :a: the Devils of
still others violate rapists and
~ Heaven will de-
molesters of children.
This righteous agenda
{ /
(I
JtJ srroy the world in
holy fire -at the
does not mean the Heav- A1 coming ofthe Age
enly Devils are themselves ~ of Sorrow. If this
humane or heroic. The ti is true, then it is a distant
Devil-Tigers punish sin be- \:: event indeed. For now,
cause it is their duty as devils to t:) '(;; theDevil-Tigerscon-
do so. However, it is also the ~ tent themselves with
dutyofadevil to act in a wicked lurking on the edges of hu-
manner. For the Devils of mansocietyandstandingjust
Heaven, cruelty and behind the shadows in mortal
self-indulgence are dens of vice. Their task is pun-
holy callings and an ishing sinners and bringing
affirmation of their about the downfall of cor-
place in the cos- rupt and decadent dynas-
micorder. Accord- ties, whatever bloodstained
ingly, the Devil-Ti- future glories they may enter-
gers are eager to partake tain dreams of.
in the very sins they so Training: Devil-Tigers are very ac-
assiduously punish in mor-
tive in training young Wan Kuei, a pro-
tals. Though most Devil- cess they call Infant Devil Civilizing.
~~rwo:~,~~ ~------------1!1!11!1!"""""""""'"""""'_,,......~~~~~.
Many of these young cilsciples later join other Dharmas, but
a majority ofnew hin receive the instruction for theirFire and
Water Tests (their passage to disciple status) from Devil-
Tiger tutors.
The stereotypical disciple who remains in the Dharma
led a violent and spiritually scarring life and cleaves close
to this root in his second existence. These vampires
channel their wicked tendencies into the service of the
Celestial Bureaucracy. Other Devil-Tigers follow their
path to make up for lives spent in contemplation rather
than the pursuit of righteousness, though most such
persons gravitate toward the Thrashing Dragons or the
Resplendent Cranes.
Initial Heavenly Devil training is brutal, focusing
on helping students accept their undead state and
teaching them to draw power from the Demon while
remaining its master. Later training (which continues
through the Dev~-Tiger's entire unliving existence)
focuses on developing the vampire's potential.
Much like mortal bureaucrats, Devil-Tigers have an
elaborate ranking system based on mastery of a diverse set
of skills. Young Devil-Tigers are tested on basics like
fighting, feeding and daylight survival. More advanced
Heavenly Devils must master human and Wan Kuei
history, accounting, management and administration,
the teachings of all major religions and classical philoso-
phers and a seemingly endless list of additional topics.
Faults: For all their emphasis on elegance, vision and
self-education, I)evil-Tig~rs are still impulsive, wicked
creatures aligned with fire and thunder. Control and
forethought do not come easily to them, and their dark
nature often makes them predictable. Given the opportu-
nity to commit an act ofelegant evil, it is very difficult for
Devil-Tigers to refuse.
Affiliations: Fire, the nl,lmber 2, the color red and the
~uth directfon
Concepts: COrrupt officia1, bilking merchant, mur-
dered noble, brigand, subsistencefarmer starved in drought,
former cultist or secret society member, venal monk,
visionary prophet, inbred backwoods savage, spy
Sobriqu'ets: Devil-Tigers, Heavenly Devils, Celes-
tial Devils, Devils of Heaven

~ . . A'f<E 'TH03 OrJ OG1? AN1? 'FAT ON 'THE 'PROC'E'EDS OF


~CReDN~ .A [p$ I~ . l.L NOT <g NV~Ef;~eo ~NGJ 11-f5V1 .
54 llOOD It~

Tt-H-E-~--&-X---O-~iiiiilliiiiiiiiiTllE'
--------@should be kept ignorant, for their own good as well as for the
common good. As the example of the Wan Xian shows,
DIE$Pl &UD~ "AIU~ cleverness and sophistication leads to nothing but dissimula-
~ ~11'111111. 11'111111. ~~.,. tion. It is difficult enough for the Cranes to control their
decadent urges, how can mortals be expected to do likewise?
"'lt,TUIH Hui( The classic expression ofC rane belief is a series of koans
Though the Wan Kuei are disgraced, Heaven has not seen known as the Eight Lotus Path, each lotus being a key
fit to relieve them of their duties. Despite their obviously concept of the Dharma. These concepts are the recognition
changed condition, theResplendentCranesfeel that they must of hope; virtuous existence; reward and correction; purga-
continue to carry out their duties as before the fall of Meru. If tion of sins; instruction in righteous matters; ordering of
the stakes were once great, then how much greater have they matters according to law; harmony transcendent over law;
grown, with the immortal souls of the guardians themselves and unification of the spirit and the world.
dependent on their adherence to an agenda of righteousness? The ideal Resplendent Crane is diligen,t, educated, man-
The Resplendent Cranes divide themselves into sects or nerly,respectful,righteous,honest,conscientiousandbrave.The
cults, with each further subdivided into temples or congrega- average Resplendent Crane is at least a few of these things and
tions. The distinction between sects and cults is blurry-sects goes to great efforts to appear as if he were all of them. Because
are more respectable and have established fortresses and places benchmarks for acceptable behavior and performance are so
of worship. Ofcourse, there are few Resplen- high, failing is not nearlyso disgraceful as beingseen to fail. While
dent Cranes indeed would say that they all Resplendent Cranes appear to adhere to extraordinarily
belong to a cult. It is a term used to deni- stringent standards, many are only smiling for their evalua-
grate others more than anything. tor, who, in tum, knows ancl accepts that some
The Dharma's organization is hieratic, amount of the subject's performance
with sects and cults led by bodhisattvas is faked.
and elder mandarins and temples and
congregations led by younger manda-
rins with the assistance of elder j ina.
Shadow wars between rival sects over is-
sues ofdoctrine are common, and the aver-
age temple has at least one feud cooking ,.a~_,,,,..r.:;.~::i~
with a congregation from another cult.
ln terms of philosophy, the Resplen-
dent Cranes combine the Confucian and
Legalise philosophies in light oftheir own
experience and mission. While they
keep the Confucian love for merit, S>?_ '
learning and reverencefor the ances- v, ~
tors, they accept from the Legalises ~ _:,~
their realistic attitudes toward gov- &
ernance and warfare. Most impor- '
tantly, the Resplendent Cranes also
embrace the Taoist and Legalist
belief that the com- ~ii!~V /
mon people
Ctw1u.~~o:H'Aa(""OADJ~ ~----......,...,....._...,..."'""""'..,_8!!!!!!_..--~~~-
Resplendent Cranes often make their way in the world
in a catch-as-catch-can fashion. Some engage in business or
large scale agriculture, or work to advise and manipulate
mortal mag~strates and l;>ureaucrats. Many others work and
reside in one of the Dharma's temples, collecting tribute
from the surrounding area and protecting their "domain." A
large number of Cranes, however, are wanderers. Like the
cavaliers of old, these vampires travel through an area, large
or small, from haven to haven, in search of enlightenment
and of injustices to right.
Training: Young Resplendent Cranes train in the
Dharma's temples. They are expected to remain in the sect
that provided their initial training for their entire existence,
though some do go on to join other sects. In theory, each
Resplendent Crane has an elder who acts as a mentor and
supervisor. This is not always entirely fortunate. All too
frequently, a jealous or simply untalented mandarin will
stifle or mislead those under her tutelage who threaten to
surpass her in enlightenment. This usually means advance-
ment is limited to the speed of the slowest superior, which
often causes a lot of political jockeying in Resplendent
Crane temples. Vampires saddled with untalented masters
often defect to other sects or rush to jump on the wagon of
the most promising older Wan Kuei in the temple.
The tone of the mentor-pupil relationship varies. In
temples, it is very close, essentially a relationship of superior
and subordinate. Among wandering Cranes, the mentor is
much more a friend and advisor. As a result, many Running
Monkeys spend a great deal of time wandering to escape slow
and top-heavy temple politics.
Like the Devil-Tigers, the Cranes take great pains to
educate themselves. However, where the Devil-Tigers
strongly emphasize secular matters like trade and warfare,
Resplendent Cranes place much more emphasis on subjects
like philosophy, spirituality, religious studies and esoteric
meditation and martial arts practices. The average Crane of
a given age is at least as "educated" as a comparable Devil-
Tiger. However, he has probably mastered more Disciplines
but is significantly less comfortable among mortals of low
standing, like merchants, soldiers and prostitutes.
Faults: The Resplendent Cranes' hierarchy and self-
righteous purpose are both their greatest strength and great,
est weakness. The same hierarchy that makes the Cranes
flexible and organized also makes them intensely political
and only as Strong as the weakest elder. Also, many young
Cranes are full of hubris, assured in their holy purpose with
high ideals untempered by realism. Combative and prone to
leaping in where wiser heads might fear to tread, these
righteous young vampires are forever at odds with their
superiors and perpetually stirring up trouble among mortals
and with other shen.
Affiliations: Water, the number l , the color yellow and
the north direction
Concepts: Soldier-scholar, fallen priest, heir killed in
court intrigues, reformed merchant, massacred monk, vic-
tim of terrible illness, devoutly religious sinner, disgraced
scholar of high honors, murdered magistrate
Sobriquets: Resplendent Cranes, Lotus Walkers, Shin-
ing lee Guardians
It $ja(.
56~~~~~~s.-........,.....,.....,.._..,_.,_.__........~ 81.00D

r. So~ ornt1 S11Anow Bone Dancers do not know, they have forgotten or
hidden so well in their unfathomable archives that ns>t
V,~ic: y,,_ even they can find it. They make excellent sgj.es -
without passion or drive, they move like great cold fish,
recording, noticing and carefully unwinding the threads
of the courts and their countless intrigues.
Likewise, without passion, they cannot be offended
or provoked to hasty action, and thus, they are diplomats
and assassins of infinite patience. In neither case do they
perform these actions willingly. They are duties, to wu-
mates and to the Wan Kuei as a whole, to be discharged
as efficiently as possible, in hopes that they will not
protract the vampire's time awa from her studies and
contemplation. As natural maste of the Godbody of
l~) r, t) Metal, these vam-
' \._ pires are feared and
erciless. With-
0
Cum~~W'O:McYtt:.usllt_ ~,._............_.._.....,.....,.......,....,~~~~~-=-.-'-<
Without words or directness, without aggression or
extension, Lt conveys its meaning more perfectly than
any words could hope to. Such is the power of this
dance that nearly every Bone Dancer learns it. When
they g:nher together, these vampires often eschew
speech altogether, instead communicating only through
this silent ballet.
Training: The Shadow Songs teach their young
primarily through koans and riddles. These are designed
in a highly calculated fashion and are quite often tailored
specifically to the student in question. In these riddles,
the answer is largely unimportant - it is the process of
meditation on the matter of the riddle and the act of
learning the answer (if there is one) that truly matter and
bring enlightenment.
Obviously, this is not necessarily suitable for young
Running Monkeys, and the Dharma also offers forthright
instruction on the simple matters ofthe faith and the basic
tenets of the Dharma to hin and young disciples. As soon as
the students are ready, they graduate to more indirect
teachings. It is critical that the students quickly begin
finding their own wisdom, rather than having it taught to
them. The Song of the Shadow is a path of private discov-
ery, not a curriculum for enlightenment.
Just as these vampires place great emphasis on the
value of personal enlightenment, they also place an equal
emphasis on personal discipline, an emotionless state
they call Cold Mind. To these Wan Kuei, there is no
meaningfu) control that does not come from within.
Indirection and restraint are virtues of the Bone Dance. lf
its followers cannot master them and must have them
imposed, then clearly there is no enlightenment'l taking
place. As a result, for all but the beginning of the vampire's
existence, the tutelage he receives is fargely composed of
riddles his master prepares and hands out when the time
is right. The resrnf the vampire's time is his own, for if he
is not incessant in his pursuit of enlightenment ~d
knowledge for their own sa~es, he is unsui ed for the Song
of the Shadow.
Faults: Though they are often fascinating to those who
know them little, the Bone Dancers are cruel and detached.
Their air of detachment allows them to serenely contem-
plate any brutality, any betrayal, so long as it serves their
ultimate ends. Though their Cold Mind can often be an
asset, many Bone Dancers live their second existence
essentially alone, wrapped in self-isolation even when in
the midst of their wu-mates.
Affiliations: Metal, the number 4, the color black
and the west direction
Concepts: Courtesan, eunuch, destitute scholar,
matriarch, silk farmer, frustrated rebel, gravedigger,
necrophile
Sobriquets: Bone Dancers, Shadow Songs, Quiet
Songs, Bone Flowers

COLD CMOIC
llOODltW

,...-HE ..PAnt OF~ T'""HOU"'-'D


YIHJSP~R_S
CHam~1Wo:~1l0s8.&a:. (j)._............_....,.....,,"""""""""'"""""..,,...~~~~~.
Whispers have gained an important place with.in it. Many
Thousand Whispersaregreatrirualists, and the Thousand Whis-
per sorcerer is as strong an ~etype among the Hungry Dead as
the Devil-Tiger demonologist. Also, like the Devil-Tigers, the
Thousand Whispers are great trainers ofchih-mei. Though they
have a completely different systemfor educating their pupils -
using mysticism and koans where the Devil-Tigers use fire and
iron rods - they are considered just as effective as the Oevil-
Tigers at their task.
Training: In its early stages, Thousand Whisper train-
ing has the same goal a$ that of any Dharma - keep the
subjects from sliding back into the cannibalistic chih-mei
state long enough for them to be set upon a Dharmic path.
To accomplish this, the Hollow Reeds distract with mysti-
c ism and keep pupils in a ritualistic environment until they
understand their condition well enough to cope with it.
The Thousand Whisp rs training proper is more com-
plex. The Hollow Reed must take in the world around it, yet
not become the world around it. Inside, it must remain
empty, devoid of the spiritual and emotional baggage that
makes learning impossible. With Running Monkeys, all that
can be done is to open the door to future enlightenment -
the principle of the Rootless T ree is too large, too difficult for
a simple, almost-mortal mind to grasy. Appreciation of the
value of the Broken Mask Technique grows over human
lifetimes of experience, not weeks or months of tutelage.
To place the young Thousand Whisper on the road to
enlightenment, specially designed riddles are used. Different
for each srudent, the master crafts these conundrums so that
they remain with the srudent over his fust centuries, unfold-
ing new meanings with each step along the Dharmic road.
Srudents are also trained in disguise and taught the principles
of human behavior, so that the masks they eventually con-
struct for themselves can be true enough for them to gain
genuine enlightenment nom the exercise. In the end, the
master provides the student with three morta1identiries and
with the recommendations, funds, introductions and other
trappings necessary to take root in the soil of Wan Kuei
culture. After that, the student is on her own - like the
insects they venerate, the Wise Centipedes do not recognize
their children once they have left the egg.
Faults: For all that itoffers a road ro redemption, the Broken
Mask Technique is the most difficult of the Oharmic paths to
follow. While it is hard to step off, it is also incredibly difficult to
progress. Maintaining the separation between lives and closing
the door on each "incarnation" as it ends are far from easy tasks.
Some Thousand Whispers find the path enlightening, but many
more are torn by the conflictsoftheir Virtues and either fall to the
Demon or join other Dharmas. Rare and aloof, the Thousand
Whispers have an unpleasant reputation for being more inter-
ested in the Road Back than their companions on that road, one
which is not entirely undeserved.
Affiliations: Earth, the number 0, the color white and ~
~;-~
the center point direction
Concepts: Fonnermadman, spy, conartist, visionary prophet, In every raindroliiere are 1..000
lenons~ If only w~~d eyes enouqh
Buddhist priest, orphan, manial arts master, official, hermit,
innocent tonured and executed for a crime she didn't commit

to appre~~eml
Sobriquets: Thousand Whispers, Hollow Reeds, Root-
less Trees, Wise Centipedes
60.~~~..!-~....;;.....__..,;..,;liiiiiiiliilililll_ __ __ _ _ _. . __ _~ BLOOD Ii $fu:.

rHE: DAN.a o FT THE._ ___,


tightly wrapped bundle of hunger and sexuality. Though
she offers prayers to her victims and thinks them sacred,

r~ASHJ..c; D~o..
she still finds fulfillment in the highly distasteful practice
of flesh eating as well as- in carnal congress of every sort.
This is not to say that every Thrashing Dragon is a
v.~: YAl(c; cannibalistic sexual predator or, rather, that any given
Thrashing Dragon is such a creature at all times. Most
Running Monkeys are at least as interested in capturing
the opportunities they missed in life as they are in indulg-
ing their monstrous urges. Likewise, though jina and
mandarins grudgingly adore their predatory character,
they also know that there is a difference between
immersion in the illusion and becoming lost
in it. Depending on perspective, it can
be comforting or frightening that a
Thrashing
Dragon who
raped
and de-
voured a
e
ciousde- ~--= ,, ~fJ: ' @p ~
fenders ............,...---~ ~ ~" write
%~e:
of the
spirit 0
ways, the chids in her garden or
Thrash ing~m teach classes in Taoist
Dragons '1, "':I. alchemy.
even garner cl When not indulg-
limited, n ing themselves, a
grudging re- ~ Thrashing Dragon can
spect from 1 i=i wear as many masks
the Fero - 7 as a Rootless Tree. He
cious People, ~ may be a loving par-
who con- ~ ent, a naturalist, a
sider them t'S farmer, a poet or a
freakish, dis- 7 , prostitute. Rubbing el-
tasteful, but (':; bows with the Devil-Ti-
occasionally ~ gers in the slums, he is
useful allies. ~ equally at home in the mon-
M ost asteries of the Resplendent
Wan Kuei feel like- Cranes. Anything to bring him
wise. Thrashing closer to the sacred dance of life.
Dragon attempts to Unlike the Thousand Whispers, how-
penetrate and ever, the Thrashing Dragons make no
learn from the _ __....."'"
pretenses about their nature. MostLaugh-
illusion oflife / ing Rainbows see the Broken Mask Tech-
have a dis- \I, nique as vaguely repulsive, a profane mon-
tinctly preda- "' ~ ster misrepresenting itself as a sacred living
tory bent. Ac- 7f being and cheating the natural order of its
cepting her place ~ wisdom rather than learning it in a proper,
as a monster even .... , honest fashion.
as she despises her-
self for it, the ste-
t Many Thrashing Dragons are
shapeshifters, so that they can explore life's
reotypical Thrash- rich pageant in a myriad offorms. Thrashing
ing Dragon is a Dragon mandarins are almost universally
~~ rW'ot MaicY l\,NN AA_
familiar with the spirit courts of the Yang Realm. Though
@-----------.------:-;__-: ; :.,;1 1 1 1
the Celestial Bureaucracy continues to fall into decay and
decadence, the Thrashing Dragons continue to form the
diplomatic staff of the Wan Kuei when negotiating with
these spirit lords. Now, however, they do not ask for advice
and assistance in thename ofHeaven, but come with bribes
of jade and proposals of alliance, as the princes of the Yang
World become more like warlords and potentates with
each passing year.
Training: Most Thrashing Dragons were strait-laced
before their deaths, and their agonies in Yomi showed
them the value of the life they forswore. Thrashing
Dragon teachers work one-on-one with students, teach-
ing them Taoist and Wan Kuei scripture, educating them
in the etiquette of the spirit realms and showing them the
blood-soaked glories ofthe flesh. As a distant cousin ofthe
Devil-Tiger taskmaster, the Thrashing Dragon tutor is
not gentle but keeps her student alert with the thrill of
danger and the sting of pain.
A young ThrashinJt Dragon misses most nuances of
the faith. He learns some greetings for spirit beings and
has a glossing acquaintance with mortal theology. His
masters expect this and send him out to revel in the state
ofthe Running Monkey, to live the life he always dreamed
of but never had. Those who cannot reconcile themselves
to their undead state or who cannot carve out an exist-
ence soon meet their ends. This is right and proper -
nature is-fierce, not gentle. No creature is born with the
guarantee of even a second's existence. All that is alive
must forever struggle, and so, the disciples muse likewise
struggle. Those who survive long enough to become bored
eventually make their way back to the Dharma's temples
and training camps, where they learn the subtleties of
their role. Though the other Dharmas are often harsh to
young Dragons amok in the world, the Dharma as a whole
does not begrudge their fellow vampires. If th'e predator
does not set upon the herd, how will the weak be win-
nowed from the strong?
Faults: For all that they idolize the living, Thrashing
Dragons ar:e themselves forever cut off from the pulse of
life. Not only does their messy, carnivorous streak often
attract attention, it also conceals an immense self-loath-
ing. No matter if the hearts they consume are ~till beating,
these Wan Kuei are still unliving, and they can never
forget it. Their love for life is all too often just a bit too
forced, and though they praise the living, there is envy in
their eyes. T o be the object of their affection is often far
from pleasant - those things that a Thrashing Dragon
loves or covets, he often consumes.
Affiliations: Wood, the number 3, the color green
and the east direction
Concepts: Gambler, scout, chef, courtesan, wild savage,
former secret policeman, monk, peasant rebel, intellectual
Sobriquets: Thrashing Dragons, Laughing Rainbows,
Green Devils
Much like the souls of the--Wan Kuei, this chapter summary of character creation appears on pages 64
has a dual nature. On the one hand, it covers the through 66, however~
mechanics of creating Wan Kuei of the Fourth Age. The second part 0 this chapter concerns itself with
Generally, this process quite similar to creating a mod- the intangibtes of characters of the Fourffi..Age. The era
em Kuei-jin in Kindred' of the East. The times are of Blood & Silk is very different from our own, and this
different, however, and so there are distinction$-. This section should help you make decisions about your
section deals only with those aspects that vary between character's life and death. Along with _a wide variety of
the Fourth and Fifth Age, so as not to repeat information player advice, this section includes a series of sample
already available in Kindred of the. East. A complete backgroun& to help you choose an appropriate life for
your vampire.

Cit&1iCTE". Ctt.1&1loN .P-.ocus


Step One: Concept
Choose balance, direction, Dharma, Hun
Nature, P'o Nature and Demeanor. Choose a
template (optional, see pp. 75-81).
Step Two: Attributes
Set priorities, and assign dots for Physical, Social
and Mental categories (7/5/3). Your Di.....-..
character gets one free dot in each Attribute. The Howl of the Devil- 1
Step Three: Abilities Way, lit by Fire and
Set priorities, and assign dots for Talents, Skills The Way of~ t"Crane (Hun): The
and Knowledges (13/9/5). Northern Way, flowing like Water and Blood.
No Ability may be higher than 3 at this time. The Song of the Shadow (YinJ:The Western Way,
Step Four: Advantages cleaving through the world like Metal and Bone.
Choose Disciplines (two Demon Arts, three The Path of a Th~d ~(Balance): The
others; no more than three dots in any at this Central Way,~ga1llikeEarthandJade.
step) and Backgrounds (any 5); rate Chi The Dance of the Thrashing Dragon (Yang): The
Virtues (4). Your character gets one free dot Eastern Way, stretching and growing like Wood
in each Chi Virtue. and Flesh.
Step Five: Finishing Touches
Record Hun and P'o scores (3 each), Willpower ro~
(5) and Dharma rating (1). The Ancient: Your..P'~ i~ all your efforts as
Spend freebie points (15). failures and reminds you ot tl\e superior
Record final Willpower (equal to final Hun score achievements of those ~Q'vewme before.
ifh igher than current Willpower), beginning The _Mist: Your 1''o seeks to produce a single
temporary Yin and Yang Chi (equal to perfect work of ~ and reacts bitterly to
final permanenc scores), beginning Demon everything thft~ Jbo from that task.
Chi (equal to final P'o score). The Bandit: Your P'o co..x_ets whatever others value
Determine guanxi ratings coward other players' and takes those di~ for it9:1fa.whether it can
characters (5 + [wu-mate's Charisma]- [your use them<or merely keep othersfrom using them.
character's P'o or Yin, whichever is higher]). The Barbarian: :Yuir P'o~s against every work
of your culture; jf~lowed extended control, it
C.., 811-..a workswaa~~ rhe institutions to
Yin: You are a creature of shadows and death. which y66.~~~~.-:
Balance: You harmonize the divided elements The Deceiver: Your.t?'~ves a net of lies around
of your Chi. you, snaring everyone in your vicinity.
Yang: You turn to light and life. The Demon: Your P'o seeks to smash the whole
world and drag it into Ybmt.
~o-.. The Echo: Your P'obasnovoiceofitsown; instead,
North: You serve the society of Wan Kuei, it simply speaks in the voices of those you left
uniting all under the laws and traditions of behind when you escaped Yomi.
the ancestors. The Eunuch: Your P'o strikes at your ability to
West: You unite the Wan Kuei of the present create, channeling all its energy into schemes
moment and material world with the larger aimed at twisting the work of others.
cosmol:i, speaking for and to the spirits of the The Fool: Your P'o cares only for the pleasures of
worlds beyond the Wall. the moment and fightl back against every effort
Center: You set the example for other Wan at planning or chmge.
Kuei by seeking Dhannic perfection; you may ~ Leg.ilist: '?OUfP'o venerates codified morality
also guide others on their respective routes to and ruthless punishment of all violations.
redemption.
The Monkey: Your P'o yearns for novelty and Godbodyofthe Storm: Merging the vampiric body
constantly seeks whatever ts behind the next with the fury of unleashed elements (a young art,
tree. available only up to level3).
The Sage: Your P'o endeavors to make you doubt
SoUL.D~
the truth of the teachings you now follow,
tantalizing you with hints of superior wisdom Cultivati0n: The.science of the P'o, and the me
elsewhere. by which it may be subdued.
The Slave ):'.o~P'o believes in your fundamental Dragon Tear (Chi'iu Muh): The arts of the third
~~and seeks to sell you into bondage eye, and the insights it grants.
to wme suitable master. Internalize: Subduing the will for action in
The VitaliSU "iour P'o seeks to return to life as you harmony with the All.
lived it before the Second Breath and cares Obligation: The science of the Hun, and the means
nothing for the concerns of the Wan Kuei.
The Warrior: Your P'o sees every situation as a
battle and pushes you toward the next fight.
by which it may be directed.
D&t'O.. ......

Black Wind: Tapping the P'o to gain preteroa
D,.,...,,.ES speed.
Godbody of the Demon: Taking on aspects of the
CHJ~ twisted form the P)o i[Jlagines itself as having.
Equilibrium: The delicate science of balancing Yin Iron Mountain: The P'o strengthens the body.
and Yang. Kiai: The new art of unleashing the P'o in
Feng Shui: The art of "wind and water," Chinese devastating screams.
geomancy. Still rare in this era.
Tapestry: Tracing and re-weaving the patterns of ~c;~oU..DS
Chi in the environment. Allies: Mortal i:nen and women who support you.
Yang Prana: The yoga ofYang energy, empowering Contacti'~ Useful acquaintances, willing to
you with the force of the crimson fountains. exfliance.information and the occasional servic
Yin Prana: The yoga of Yin energy, empowering without majoi: commitment to or from you.
you with the force of the quiet blackness. Fame: Renown in mortal society.
CfoD80DYD~ Herd: Devotees and followers whose Chi you
drain without fear of repercussion.
Godbody of Earth: URiriDrdie body with the great
flows of Chi. Horoscope: Auspicious omens, which can provi
a bit of luck at key moments.
Godbody of Fire: Kindling Chi into flame and
directing the resulting conflagration. Influence: The ability to move mortal society,
Godbody of Metal: Channeling death energies to whether ornot the peopleyou move know of yo
existence and condition.
transform th~ body.
GOdbody of'\Vatel': Makingtlle vital fluid perform Jade Talisman: A properly prepared repository
new feats for me-now-dead body. Chi.
Godbody of Wood: Empowering the individ\JaL
pieces of the body in accordance with a sirigle
will. Mentor: AI\ older Wan Kuei who advises an
GOObody of the Beast: Commanding the creatures guides you (or perhaps a network of alliances
ofnature (ayoung art, available only up to level 3 ). your courr).
Godbody of Smoke: Obscuring the truth with Nushi: A guardian spirit bound to your wu.
wisps ofsmoke (a young art, available only up to Resowces: Wealth, in its various forms.
level 3 ). Retainers: Servants and assistants, committed t
you personally rather than to shared goals.
Rites: M~tetY ofsome ofthe ritual magic known t
Wart Kuei.
Companion. (The Spirit uf the Living Earth Dharma is
unavailable be<0:ause it has yet to be developed.)

ThebasicsystemofcharacterdesigninBlood&Sil
is the s~me as hat oudined in Chapte,r Thr-ee ofKindrecl
of the East.You have almost the same number ofdots~d:
Hun Nature is the same as "Nature" in Kindred
of the-East and functions as outlined on p. 82 of that
boo~ The cbange in nomenclature simply reflects a
points to play with, you go through the same step~. an! sharper distinction between parts of the soul in the
you are creating thName overall type of clfaracter - one Fourth Age.
of the Ten Thousand Demons. P'o Nature isno differentthanin the Fifth Age, but
But the Hungry Dead of the Fourth Age are no the-re are more options to choose from. You may select
entirely similar ~Q their successors in the Fifth. ot'only your character's P'o N'ature from those listed on pp. 92 -
do they exist in a different social settin~ meaning they .93-0f Kindred of the "East and pp. 83-84 of th1$ book.
have access tpdjfferent Ab~lities- ut the verynatre of Tiemeanm: is the same as in the Fifth Age; follow
the Trapestry they move ,through is difCerent. Ghapter the guidelines on p. 82 of Kindred of the.East.
Four examines the differ~nces ii).. the ~ges,moredosely,
but they do change some ofthe options (ory-01:1r character. ~UTES AttD AaJLJ'l'JIS
The followi9g sections carry you through"thediffere ~ Choosing Artributes and Abilities functions just as ir.
andsjmilartties of character creation. does in Kindred of the East. Because the setting ofBlood
&. Silk is differem, however, the choice of Abilities is
slightly differen. Most work as presented in Vampire-:
Blood & Silk takes-place more than 800 ye rs.a o, so The Masquerade and Kindred of the East, bu not all.
ob'liouscy, character coQ.cepcs and bac grounds are goip.g.. Disallowed.Abilities: ThefollowingmodemAbili-
to diffetfrom those in Kindred of tbe East. The.second ...ties obviously ha'le no place in Fourth Age chronicles:
half ohhi chapter deal~ e-wli itly wtth-developi~g ae- E>rive, Firearms and G:omputer.
I?ropriate copceets fo~the era,and s t if!&. flawever~ the New Abilities: Chapter Four (pp. 85-86) lists
choces for baslc character Traits several new Abilit\es proper to the era of Blood & Silk.
Balance functions as it does in the Fifth Age fo low You way freel choose from them.
the,guidelines on PR S0-81 of Kindred of the East.
Direction, functiflns as it does in the Fifth A~e; DJsqeLJl(ES
follow the guidelines on {>P 81-82 ofKindred of the East. Choosing Disciplines functions largely, but not com~
~e also the notes on page ll4and 125 of..this book. pletely, as it does in Kindred of the East. The most
Dharma functio_ns-generallv the same.way itdoes in significant difference is that Wan Kuei disciple in the
the Fifth Age, although the beliefs of each ~oad Back Fourth Agenave a somewhat easier time acquiring.their
continue'(() evolve with time~Full aescriptions of ea<:h of unliving Qwers in the first years after the Secona Breath.
the fiv~ basicDharmas in.this eta;ill;1~r.in G;hap\e ;rwo. ~As such, star_timg characters get five dots to sp_end on
lfyourStoryrelle'ra o it, yoamayalsoCh se~e'Ofthe Qiscip ines rat\ler than the three dots standard in modem,
eretieal D~rma o e in tfi:el<indr~ o "-~ Ea t ~ndred of the East. Two of these dots must go int-Q
Cum~ ,.......: ,...~ nil~~ @- ......--~.....~.-.~-..............-:-~~~~
DemonArts, an<l no ingle Discipline can be raised higher
than three dots at this stage. In addition, some Disciplines
are not available or have been modified for the Fourth
Age, as described below.
CttJ . , .
The Chi Arts are largely the same in the Fourth and
Fifth Age. Equilibrium, Tapesrry, Yang Prana and Yin
Prana all work as presented in Kin dred of the East, pp.
101-107, and you may assign dots to them as normal.
Feng Shui, however, is very rare in the Fourth Age, still
taking form as a systematic Oiscipllne rather than a
collection of independent 1cleas. lnsofar as anyone prac-
tices it, it works as presented in Kindred of the East
Companion, pp. 63-64. The Stocyteller must approve
any dots in Feng Shui.

D&to.. ~
The Demon Arts are similarly onchanged in Blood &
Silk. Black Wind and the Godbody of the Demon (a.k.a.

Demon Shintai) work as presented in Kindred of the
East, pp. 107-109, while Hellweaving, lron Mountain
and Kiai do so as presented in Kindred of the East

Companion, pp. 69-76. You may purchase dots in any of
the Demon Ans except Hellweaving, which is reserved
for the dreaded akwna, servitors of the Y amaJCings. Kiai
is a newly developed Otsdpline, a Synthesis.of Wan Kuei
inner tormentcwith Buddhi c notions of spirirual power,
but it enjoys widespread popularity.
"God body of che Demon" means the same ching as

"Demon Shintai" and i a stylistic rather than substan-
tialchange. Keep in mind, however, that while Yami is
indeed fonnidab le in the Fourth Age, not all vestiges of
the original nocion ofdivine purificationhave yec been
lost. Demon forl"tls of the Fourth Age reflect a mix of
the monstrous elemencs common to the Fifth Age with
an earlier strain of righteous fury. They invoke fear of
$ descending celestial power as well as of a rising
infernal menace.

Y-111- c;ouoD fo-. Slijiijij) D,.,...,....


The shincai of the Fifth Age mosc clearly reflect the
depths-to which the heirs ofche Wan XLan descend. In the
Founh Age, the godboc.ly D&iplines still retain the el-
ememal associations they bore in the beginning. As such,
Blood, Bone, Jade, Fle hand Ghosc-Flame Shintai are
unknown in the Fourth Age and unavailable in Blood &
Silk. They are replaced by new Disciplines-Godbody of
Earth, Fire, Mecal, Wood and Warer - described on
page:; 86-95.
~~~----------------------....-@--~~.;;.;~--~~~~~~_..:;::;:~
Beast,SmokeandStormShintaiareverymuchworks
in progress seen by ~ome as signs of the Fifth Age. Only
e&()M
~
If 9'.:
UUMll~S m~-.
!'"~
...
the first three dots of each exist as systematic powers, a:s C...a~ D~uaue
"'-~ -"' 9'.- '-"V~~
presented in the Kindred of the East Companion, pp. 82-
85. Advancement past the third dot is not possible at this
rime, although the Storyteller might a low a character to
\Ii'/l u
~
Pga CouCEPTS
9'! .., ~
do so after long experimentation and questing, as well as The object of character creation is not to make an
a heavy experience point expenditure. Like the other elegant distribution of dots but to forge the basics of a
Disciplines in this category, these are generally referred to persona for you to portray and flesh out in lay. This
as godbodies, instead of shintai. section addresses a variety of social and setting issues to
Blood & Silk is set at the twilight of the Fourth Age, he1p you add depth to your concept and become aware of
so there are quite possibly especially depraved characters some ofthe uni:que c_onsiderations ofthemedieval Middle
who have already made the transition to the Age of Kingdom. None of these considerations necessarily im-
Darkness and use the modern shintai Disciplines. These pact directly on game mechanics, but they are important
vampires ,serve best as Storyteller characters, .although to character concepts nonetheless.
their "depravity" will eventually spread to all Wan Kuei as The bas ic process of becoming W an Kuei hasn't
they enter the Fifth Age. Seep. 107 for rules governi.J:lg changed since prehistory, but the details remain in con-
this transition. stant flllx. Nothing here applies in each and every case:
This section reflects the gen eral st.ate of affairs. Players
5oUL41t.TS and Storytellers should feel at libercy to use it as a starting
The Soul Arts of Cultivation, Chl'iu Muh (a.k.a. point for modifications and adjustments to reflect par,

Dragon Tears), Internalize and Obligation work the same


in the Fourth Age as they do in the Fifth, using thesystems
presented in Kindred of the East, pp. 119,126. Mibasham
ticular circumstances.

I.JR
and Tzu Wei (see Kindred of the East Companion, pp.
All Wan Kuei lived bef6re they died. When thinking
88,91) are not available inBlood& Silk They depend o n
about your character, set asi e Dham,ta, direction and
the intellectual synthesis of later dynasties and will QOt
everything else for a while; and think about what sort of
exist until the 17th century.
man, or womaQ the character was in the days when ~i
BAc~c;~oUN_DS and breath flowed naturallv. You can build a concept from
the ground up or rake one of the sample concepts (see pp.
Backgrounds function the same way in the Fourth 75~81) as a starting point. Don't feel constrained rofollow
and Fifth Ages. See Vampire: The.Masquerade, pp. 130- a template at every point; use )t to bridge the gaps where
133, for information on Allies, Contacts, Fame, Herd inspiration fails or runs sluggishly.
Influence, Mentor, Resources and Retainers. See Kin- Nationality: Every Wan Kuei ofthe Fourth Age
dred of the East, pp. 86-87, for information on Hor-0- lived somewhere in Asia; the age of expansi<m through-
scope, Jade Talisman, Magic Artifact, N ushi and Rites.
out the'world comes after the era oIBlood & Silk. Your
choice of nationality makes a tremendous difference,
setting boundaries on the character's outlook, range of
The Chi and Soul Virtues functiQn largely as they do experienceand opportunities (aftertheSecond Breathas
in the Fifth Age, although the balance of power dips less well as before). You should make your choicein cQnsulta
toward the Demon in these earlier times. tion with the Storytelle11 and the other players - if only
Chi Virtues (Yin and Yang): Choose these.. as to ensure that all your characters can coexist.
described on pp. 88-90 of Kindred of the.East Remember China suffers political turmoil, with the Jurcben
to respect your choice of balance. barbarians occupying northern China and the Southern
Soul Virtues (Hun and P'o): The Hun ofFourth Song dynasty ruling only the lower half of traditional
Age vampires is generally more of an equal partner to the Chinese territory. Despite (and in part because of) the loss
P'o than in later nights. Starting Hun is 3 instead of 1 in of political control, Chinese culture flourishes, and the
this period. Starting P'o is still 3. economic bonds of C hinese empire extend well beyond
the political borders thanks to ~ade. Even at its early
height, the Song .dynasty n ever controlled as much as
Willpower functions just as it does in the Fifth A ge. previous dynasties. The eldest Wan Kuei Lookwith sorrow
However, the Second Breath is somewhat less harrowing on th diminished state of the effi{lirej their disciples
at this time than in the future. As such, characters start ~ejoice at the number of minds and hearts open to Chi,
with Willpower 5 and so do not need to -spend freebie nese truths and worry less about where the borders may lie
points to ralse it to that level (as they do in Kindred of on maps.
the East).

Nihon, or Japan to use the modem term, stumbled
~--------------............_!!!llW'!!_ _~~~~
Sex: None of the societies of the Blood & Silk era
into civil war a generation ago, ending the Heian era of respect women as the equals of men. Scattered examples
peace and prosperity that began 400 years earlier. All but e-xist of women who rise to power or influence, but they
the youngest Running Monkeys look onthecurrent era in are exceptions. Women of this era live with much more
shock anddismay- or with ambition and cunning. Wan limited opportunities and much less respect for their
Kuei from the mainland regard the gaki (their Japanese accomplishments. Some women who draw the Second
cousins) with suspicion; during the Heian era, Japanese Breath continue to accept the role.s defined by their
scholars gradually developed borrowed Korean and Chi- societies - afrer all, when their experience after death
n,ese doctrines into something more distinctively Japa- confirms so many truths, it won't seem obvious that some
nese. This work continues even as the great lords of the others should be questioned or discarded. Other women
land engage in increasingly brutal anddestabilizing battles adopt as inspiratlons the exceptional women of past eras
with each other~ Commoners struggle to protect them- and take advantage of their post-mortem freedom from
selves, now that theii;, lords find outright fighting more mortal frailties. The necessities of political survival and
rewarding than the honor of leacling in peacetime. Dharmic advancement also often lead unliving women to
Two hundred and'fiftyyears ago, the Korrodynasty breakout of the molds imposed on them in life. The mere
united the traditional Three K,ingdoms of the Korean fact that several powerful ancestors - including the
peninsula into a single kingdom. Chaos has plagued the Empress of the Scarlet Phoenix Court - are women
area in recent generations, however, with a series- of limits unliving sexism.
as_sassinations and coups shaking up the dynastic land- Class: Throughout the Middle Kingdom, extremes
scape. A strongman is now in control, but the scars of of wealth and poverty exist sideby side. While the details
past bloodshed still run deep - especially among the differ, all the societies of the era acknowledge elixe.ranks
Wan Kuei. of l:_Ul?, middle ranks of administrators, scholars and
12rofessionals antl lower ranks of peasants, merchants and
AN. A;a or'c;o'fl\Y soldiers. Sages of Heian Japan pulled a bit of linguistic
The notion of universal human rights and the
fundamental equality of every individual arose in
Asia as it did in the West. It never caught on in Asia.
sleight-of-hand, using the character Confucian Chinese
writers use for "scholar" tomean "samurai, preserving the
textual fiction that what would later be called bushido was

Every culture before and during the era of Blood &
Silk made distinctions in worth based on ethnicity,
class, sex and countless other factors. Those in the
really just a flavor of Confucianism. That changes the
nature -of the rulers but not their position as masters,
believed by all to have the right to dispose of others in

more deserving positions felt entirely comfortable accordance with the rulers' own agendas.
denigrating, using, abusing and neglecting the less None of the societies of this era have absolutely rigid
fortunate people around them; society's losers took social structures. H$1rd work, merit and money do m__akeit.
their suffering with far more resigned acceptance possible for people to raise their standing. A wealthy
than people in the West would, then or later. The merchant, for instance, can subsidize the tudies of one of
sages of every nation taught the innate inferiority of hiS-sons, who goes on to win a place ip. the civil service of
all outsiders. Individuals could and did earn respect C)lina or Korea; the son then elevates the standing of the
for their accomplishments, but without changing family as a whole. Heroic service in battle may win
overall attitudes. promotion and honors for soldiers. A particularly insight-
The Road Back mitigates but doesn't eliminate ful priest, or anyone at all who shows an aptitude for
prejudice. The Second Breath comes to people of l:lnderstanding the omens, may earn status and appoint-
every background. This doesn't mean that any ment to an official role; and so on. Likewise, no position
individual vampire escapes the bigotry of his time, is unassaila'ble: Nobles and commoners alike fall thanks to
however, only that he might. Keep in mind that failure, corruption, legal charges, demo.nstrate;d incompe-
whatever your character was in life, as a vampire, tence and many more shortcomings. It may take genera~
she starts equal with everyone else. Emperors and tions to rise from the bott0m tQ i:he top, but some of the
peasants alike have to learn to exist in their new great dynasties were founded by peasants.
state, step by step. Your character might have been Time. A.S'Chapter. One suggests, history happens
brilliant in life but a slow learner after the Second in the East just as it does in the West. Characters who all
Breath or someone who never amounted to much lived in the old capital city of Changan, for instance,
in life but finds exi.stence after death stlmulating might have very different experiences of it: as a con-
and successful. tested battleground during;the Warring States period, as
the cente,r of culture and power in the T ang dynasty, as
a place of fear and con(usion afrer the end of the
Northern Song dynasty. Starting characters are assumed
to have taken the Second Breath within the1ast 25 years
o.r so, but these dates can change at the Storyteller.'s
discretion. Perhaps some characters spent an inordin,ate variety of personal and communal eclectic doctrines,
ar,nount of time in Yomi and awake to find a world combining traditional Confucianism and Taoism with
transformed while they suffered. now;well-established Buddhist notions and devotion t<>
local "Spiritual forces. Their better-educated neighbors
OTllE~ Cot1.SJDE-TJOt{S and rulers argue constantly over the properweight to give
As in any era, Wan Kuei of the Fourth Age are to Legalism, various interpretations of Confucianism,
largely products of their breatthingdays. Because of this, competing strains of Taoism and many other ideas. Simi-
you should think about relationships, traumas, philoso- lar complexities apply elsewhere. Before thinking about
phies and great (and not-so-great) events that influ- the details of your character's individual circumstances,
en~ed your character before she died. The following keep in mind this perennial diV'ersfty.
topics are especially important and unique to the time Against the backdrop of general acceptance of the
period and so may be very useful in developjng your supernatural, various exceptions offer hoo~s for charac....
prelude and character background. tees willing to deal with standing in disagreement with
their societi~. The oldest forms of Confucianism profess
YJfW's OF'"TIE 5~"6l an extreme agnosticism about all spiritual matters and
The mortal societies of the fourth Age all take the emphasize ritual activities like -sacrifices to ancestors
existehce of the supematuralas a given, but differ greatly purely becaus~ they encourage practitioners to be the
in how they explain it - keep in mind that there is no right kind of people. The Legalist philosophers professed
such thing as a cohesive "Asian culture" or even "East an active atheism, regarding religious belief purely as a
Asian culture." While Chinese sages work to reinvigorate tool for rulers to use in manipulating the people. Some
Co1,1fucianism, their Korean counterparts refine Bud- Taoist sages and artists develop disbelief in all forms of
dhism into new forms suitable to the needs of their personal spirits, regarding the Tao as an unthinking,
kingdom, and Japane_se statesmen struggle to rationalize a essentially mechanistic force. The burgeoning samurai
new era of political chaos. All guardians of the past claim class includes many pr~matists who refuse to worry about
to be the true heir~ of the wisdom of the ancients; all any god who won't appear before them and eroduce a sign.
innovators claim to be interpreting ancient truths for the In the Middle Kingdom, the gods might do just that_.
needs of a new Age. At least, spirits acting in the roles of gods might. So
Nor does any country covered in Blood & Silk hold might the Wan Kuei1 Xiong Ren, hsien or any of several
just one set ofideas. The Chinese people practice a wide other supernatural beings. A sudden encounter with the
supernarural can mark a character forever, creating a ~------..-..--------
H I.& OF" TIR l.Aa(D
T'
.....------........::~~::
need to understand or to experience it aga:in that sur- Think about the environment your character lived
vives even death. in. You may wish to find descriptio~ and pictures. De--
Keep in mind, however, that the vast majority of vel0'pasenseofwH tyour-charactei:sawingqodtimesand
inhabitants of the Middle Kingdom ha~e few, if any, bad, and make use of. hat w~n he enters ~nfamiliar
noteworthy encounters with the supemaru al. Prayers realms (as inevitab1yQ.e will, starting with Yom;i). W~thin
may or may not break a drought, save a st~icken child or China alone, i'fi on-tb~endless ter._race<Iliills of the lower
bring any other good fortune. The will of Heaven some- Y;mgtze River differs tremendous aom life up the Yel-
times makes itself known on a very larg scale: A virtuous low River ftQm 8eijin~, where theTiver cuts tl}.rough
ruler can indeed bless aw ole ldngdom1 while a wicked dusty,iaundiced.,earili. Both differ just as much ftom the
lordcanbringsufferingtohispeopleasHea entties'l:eget r cky S andong Peninsula, the bt_cfden harbor5 of the
l\is attention. Bowever the supernatural does appear in So_uth China Sea, the barren .\leights of'the Ttien Shan
the course.of an individuaPs exper:ience, it's often Lo tin Mountains and so on. The cold. northern slopes of foe
the noise of life's everyday randomness. Tp.ere's enoogh 'Korean Peninsula's mountains.have very l\ttle in com
tangible presence of the powers of the night and the on with the. thick jungles of Annam or Bangladesh.
worlds beyond the W-al to reassure those looking; fo Learn.what -your character saw'; and y9u'll learn tJ't~gs-.
evidence,, not e,nough to demand obedience so clearly aboJ:lt him in the cQurs of figuring out what he liked,
that only a fool ?r villain could disagree. disliked or overlooked.
T""M Wo~LD Al(D TM V,u.aq~ r. W,u.Al(D TM Wu
The vast majority of people in every country of this .Evecy Wan Kuei aev:elopea iq their breathing da);'.s a
Age spend their lives .in juse a few places. They grow up particul_ar strengthofcharacter that sustained them in the
in the village oftheir birth, unless harsh con<lition'S, war, midst-Of Yorn, lngame te{ms, either your character died
disaster or the lure of a better life elsewhere leads their with-a Willpower o 5 or more1 or.sne..died with her P'o
family to move. As young adult~, they may travel to a awakened while stil.l a1iy , or both. Think about ~is
village. elsewhere to seek a mate, often arawlng pn
extended-family conneetions. Perhags a some-point
carefully, as t;he decis'ion you make here wjl1 haveconse-
uences for the rest:qf the character's.existence.

they make a pilgrimage to a.distant holy site or carry a High Wfllpowet is unusual but not remarlyibly so.
petition for official action to a great cente.!"of govern--
rnent. The rest of the, time they have Gn Earth, they
y eur cliaracter probably haCI a reputatiOQ. in life for
reso ve or s.ruboomness, depending on how much others

spend dose ro home. approved of'\vnat she did with her Will. She,night hav
Peopl in the middle ana up~r class~ live quite< concealed \t,J?,artku arty if she was a woman in.cir-cum-
dlfferent lives. TQ.ere aetually fs a.middl c assin.,all the stances where ind'ependence would have been :tlia.bilicy-
societies coveredJ;lete, -Or what 20th,century Western rather than an assec or if she was part of the lower classes.
observers would call a middle class: mercnants, profes- She would have more scope to make her <letermination
sionals, adminrso;ators {the eguivalent of whfte,collar knqw. if she ~elonged to the midd~e~d upper classes,
workers) and the.like. People not directly tied to the land whkih, in mosr:,,sade ies, have approved ways of express-
can.travel. Somespena a lot of time moving fiom place ti ing-d1ssent and distinction widiou eming a threat to
place, while others simply vacation 0L1J1ake regul~out others. In Ghina,-she c9uld withdraw from society to
infrequent trips on business. &th sorts of-traveler meet a create-~whileirrjapan, $he might become a devotee of
wider range of people than theJower classes generally do some d tant s,hrine. She could also m"mgle with society at
- outsiders as well as their own ktnd and th.e k>c:;,al folk. rge, attempting.to im(>ress her will upon it. Whether it
The experience ofthe outside world gives rise to a differ- worked out h.aypi1fTh f6r you to decitle.
ent sense of self and jden_iity-it means taking less of the High Willp0wer also helps a character su(Vive hard-
local conditions for granted and being more aware of ships. ~aqibrs w o face, horrific battles, husbands and
regkmal differences. wives who deal with theloss<>f their family to disease and
amine.an v'irtu us indlvldualmttayed by treacherous
coileagues aU rely on Willpower. lJiey gain the reputa-
Confucian social theory denigrates commerce, tion ofs iving When others fail.
ranking merchants below farmers, since farmers cre- Awakening the P'o in lire invblv~s rnore-effor and
ate but merchants merely carry things around. None i~oseS strong limits on wliat.so rtrof rson out charac-
of the Blood & Silk societies claim to value the tertan be. It takes ongoing,indu1 ence'in darkpassiol}S t6
acquisition of money as such, but in practical terms, inClfe a spark of self-awarenessin the o - n01: just the..
money can buy tokens of status. It's much easier to ccasiona ::5ad thought or even murder in ~ moment of
denounce wealth in the abstract and at a distance pa5Sion but sustated rutality., torture, cnielcy and the
than to refuse to assist the man or woman by your side like. The most ici~ b~ditst e most wantonly de-
offering you money right now. ~ctive ~ene ils, the mo r saY_age o landers on the
72
R
fringes of civilization: These are the sQrt$ of people wh9 ,.Jiu~
awaken therr P'o. Choosing this option. foryourcharacter The societtes in the.Blood & Silk era have widely
commits he{ to a life of evil. )ivergent ideas abou~ proper respect for the dead. Confu-
..cian doctrine favors elaborate interment, with the corpse
accompanied by artifacts of various sorrs. Many Buddhist'
Having lived, your character also died. The drcum-- sects favor cremation. Ja :fuese people generally receive
stances of deaYi should suggest yossibilities to you and burial with rites as elaborate as theJamily can afford. In all
your Storyteller for the Q.ell the character went to and countries, cremadon takes place after battles with heavy
certainly affect the overall perspective your character has casualties. What these cultures share is the belief that
fro;n'the vantage poit\t ofdeath ~out the meanin~ and there are procedures which, when honored, put the soul
worth of his life. of the deceased at ease and allow it to move to the next
Medtcine in the Middle Kingdom deals better than stage of existence. ln the Middle Kingdom, the-se prac-
Western medicine of the time when it comes to failures of tices make a genuine difference.
the body. Heart troubles, kidney dysfunetton and the like When a corpse goes to res~ handled devoutly and
all respond effectively to rreatmeats of herbs, dietary honored in the manner its culture favors, its soul almost
management, acupuncture and so on. Healing magic never becomes a Wan Kuei unless the P'o had become
seldom hurts the process, either. Western medicine, even active in life. The soul may become a ghost and enter the
in the Middle Ages, deals better with extemally"caused Yellow Springs - a fate far more rewarding for Chinese
illness: disease, infection and so on. The.often crowded ghosts than the unfortunate ghosts of the Occupied T er-
conditions of the Middle Kingdom compound the. ~ap ritories - or may simply pass on to its final reward. Ifthe
because larger cities and more densely inhabit~ earm, P'o does descend to Yomi, it's unlikely to ever manage the
lands breed dangerous diseases more often. second Breath because the Hun has been released prop
Infant mortality runs'bigh everywhere in the Blood erly; there's no point of attachment left.
& Silk era. In some particularly hard-hit areas, more than Less ceremonial burials create lingering resentment
half of all children die before turning a year old, and eve in the souls of the neglected corpses. Death in plague,
the best care fails to save a tenth to a quarter ofall infants. natu l disaster; war, briga;p,d attack or malignant abuse of
The complications of childbirth can easily escalate. to of{icia[ power: All of these leave angry souls that much
lethal intensity, too. Infants do not draw the Second more motivated to return t:o Life and settle accounts.
Breath, but mothers who die in childbirth do. Burial.in someone else's respectful tradition may produce
Diseases strike down people of every age. Plague can 1:he same result, simply because the soul yearns for what it
break out at any time to s eep a city, province or nation hows (or believes) to be the better way.
and qm last for months or even years'before settling down
again. Honest doctOJ'S do their best te coye w~th these -A-lhu. OF""'YOU9'
crises and even do some good, despite the limitations of
0""'
Your chaFacter-Oied. The P'o separated from the Hun,
thejr knowledge. Evenso, contracting the plague amounts and the P'ofellinto the clutches ofYomi. Ifyour character
to a deaduentence. The cultures of the Middle Kingdom was prommently andnotoriously wichd, so[(le important
and environs frown on most' forms of suicide - even '5ervant of the Yama Kings may have been waiting. More
Japan with jts seppuku p~actice - but quietly look the usually~some minor"demon snatched up your cmuacter's
other way wheJJ. people in the thtoes o( wha~ they know P'o ~part of a routine sweep through the Mirror Lands.
to be terrqinalsuffering hasten their way ou_t of the world. Your Ro may also have floated aimlessly for some time
Cumulative injury also takes its toll. Broken bones before being caught in the spiritual equivalent of gravity
don't always set perfectly. Dental problems can leave the and sucked down to Hell.
body vulnerable to infection. Physical deformity aQd The vast majority of Wan Kuei retain only fragmen-
frailtyincreasestressand make other injuries.more likeiy. tary impressions of their time it\ Yomi. Nonetheless, take
Many people die not so much from a single triggering time to think about the hell to which your character went.
event as frolX! the cumulative.. w-eight of a lifetime of Work out rhe details with your Storyteller. Consult The
damage. Strong-willed characters may well hold on to life Thousand 'Hells, or make up a new hell if the given ones
longer than others an.d, therefore, enter the afterlife with don't quite suit. The key motif must be the loss or
an extra burden of disability. corruption ofsomething important to the character. The
Old age gathers up people who survived life's other Wicked City, for instance, punishes both those who hated
challeng~s. Some old people pass surrounded by regretful and tried to-avoid cities and those who were very comfort-
mourners, who admired the eider's Integrity, intelligence able in the midst of the urban world. Hell should be a place
andservice. Other old people die unmourned their rela- where your character confronts the failure of her hopes
1

tives and neighbors relieved to see a tyranr or worthies~ and ambitkms, where she roust survive by turning against
nuisance depart. her own desires.

Bad as they arc in the Founh Age, che hells become
~----------------~ ......~--~~~~~
tenns with the passage of rime; choose an incerval that"
worse with time. They onginated, before anv observer of offers you interesting hooks for character development.
theFourthAgecanremember,asplacesofcorrecttonand Wan Kuei return to their own bodies (or, on care-
enlightenment. Juse as the Wan Xian tamed from guard- oc~ions, some other suitable bc;>ely). They are not ghos .
ians into predators, so the hells turned from penitentiaries Though they do not breathe, they do ex1st in the materi~l
into prisons. Not all exist to torment souls; many simply world, just like living people. S"omething drives them in
act as places to hold souls to keep them from going to some uruque ways; apart from.that, they partic1pa e fully m
other fate. Cuscoms like the sacrifice ofhell money allow the routine of material existence as their Chi deficiency
rheli ving to support souls in these less abusive hells as well and divided souls allow.
as the ouls thatgQ to the Yellow Spring . Even in the hells
ruled by YamaKings benron imposing suffering, moments ,..-,. SKOt(D 8'lu.nt- DumcY
ofrespite sometimes come. The souls who've been trapped The Second Breath -deAnes the Wan Kuei's :entire
a long time can tell stones co newcomers about bow it's all exiscence. The impulse chat draws (or pushes) a soul out
been getting stead iiy worse, and they're right. The further of Y:omi must always be a strong 6ne. Weaklings don't.
the world drifts from the primal way, the worse everything break the piritual bonds of the afterlife. You mu t uQde ,
gets in the afterlife. stand how and why your character fled Yomi under-
stano what he hopes foe and fears, how he believes he
should (or must) act upon returning to th world.
Wan Kuei carry karmic debts. The rormsofobligation
to others are potentially infinite. Common ones include:
Ambition. The character desires to be something
he wasn't in life-a traveler, if in life he lived in
a ingle village; an obscure .artist, if in life he
carried great tesponsibilicy; and so on.
Devotion. People who counted on the character
now uffer because of his absence. The character
aims to provide for them.

Duty. The c;.haracrer commirred herself in life to
perform a cask. Death is not sufficient reason to
shirk the ob igation.

Love. The character remains'anached to'a persont
Having lived anJ died, )'Our charaete( came back to a group or even a place and cannoc bear co be
the material world, though not exactly to Life aS he u ed aparr from the target of his affection.
to know it. His P'o gets out ofYomi, makes its way across
Revenge. A wicked person cut offthe character's
the deep voids of the Yin World and reenters his body life. The character aims co punish the evil,doer
along with his Hun.
and, after that, to punish similar people else
How did your P'o manage to gee loose? Did it work where in the world.
in coopecation w1th other doomed souls (and perhap
The burden that drives the character is always a huge
then berray chem, leaving behind a legacy of angry
o ne. lt's not something that a mere lifetime's worth of
prisoners who might well accept an offer of demonic
effort can resolve but a compulsiqn that may take the
assi tance to pursue revenge)? Did it cut a deal with a
character to cheend ofthe Age and beyond. The character's
demon who will (etum aJ precisely the wrong moment to
whole po c-,morrem exi.Srence revolves around the debt,
demand a favor m return? Did a demon or Yama King
whatever it i .
scent the potential for the P'o ro work great harm in the
Take advantage of the variety ofHunand P'o Natures
world and defiberately let it go, with or without explain-
ing the plot to the P'o? Or did it actually manage to to fine-tune the details for your character. The <~ho ice of
P'o illuminates the distinction between, for instance, an
escape, spotting a weakness in the defense of its hell and
ambition founded from fear o(failure versus an ambition
exploiting thar fail mg?
founded from a belief in one'sinnate greatness. Biography
Some souJs rec_t1m to the world after mere days in
is mechanics in Blood & Silk; know the character, and
Yomi. Others spend weeks, months, even years there.
the Traits follow.
Every choice opens up roleplaying po ibi li ties. A charac,
ter who's drawn the Second Breath quickly can better
blend in with his old life. A character who must wait ro
,..-.wu
draw the Second Breath gains distance from his old life The ynthetic blood-families of the Wan Kuei pro-
and the freedom to return without emerging into a still vide the basis of their society and their cot.in system. The
active crowd of mourners. Every Wan Kuei must come co loyalties of thegua!lXibond hold the vampires together in
the face of tremendous differences: religious, spiritual ancl
74 .LOOD It $ju:_
~~~~--iiiiiill----------------------~
political. They mold the future fate ofiive or more Why wasit formed? The ancestors often give wu
immortals into a holistic entity powetful eoough to at, specifie tasks, such as watching over a disputed
r.'ract a parron spirit. city, dealing with, a certain enemy or tiling care
This critical bond is also the venue r most -inter, of some part of c~ q ~usiness. These tasks can be
character roleplaying in a Blood & Silk chronicle. 1)11 the. short,term ass-ignm~nts (such as escorting an
players' van;):pires will be part of-a single wu a.nd ~nee ancestor on a"visi to another court) or l'l.ever,
bound rogeth,er for a common purpose. The other players ending- eharges ( uch as expJoring e Yang
and you, along with_.the Storyteller, should spend some World). The Storyteller may already have a
time establishing the backgrpund and details of the wu. reason in mind, but inpllt from the players is
You can do this either befor or after creating individual never a bad idea.
characters, or better yet, determine a few basics first, and Are there eldermembers? Your characters start off
fihalize matters after creating your Wan Kuei. as-( almost) n,ewlyAlead disciples, but thewu may
Some of the questions you and the other players have a, longer history. If there are fewer than five
shoul~ ask yourselves about the wu include: players, the Storyteller may wish to include some
How balanced is it? The ideal wu has five members, other characters in the wu, including jina or
one from each Dharma and..,diiection_. This is only other elders. Having an older wu,mate can be
an ideal, however, and many Corpse Families invaluable: She is likely quite powerful and may
have different compositions that reflect their be influential at court. On d\e other hand, a jina
purposes. A wu destined to wage war might attracts more dangerous enemies, who won't
include several Devil,Tigers and -south,facing hesitate to strike at the ' weak links" she has
vampires, for example. Try to Il\,a'ke sure-that all surrounaea herself witn. y 6u should ~lso discuss
the characte s are complementary in some way_1 why a more influential varop~re has chosen (or
however. This will make play mo e enjoyable and been compelled) to surround h erself with
reflect the fact that the anceswt:s- i.:.are y Running Monkeys. Again, the Storyteller may
purposefully put.together W;m Kuei who cannot have ideas of his.own.
cooperate.


- - - - Is the wu one of th(} Hundred Corpse Families? creation process and maintain a certain authenticity (if
The most prestigibus of all the. wu are the there can be anything authentic abouc vampires from
members of the Hundred Corpse Families, Hell). These are not complete characters - more ready-
regi tered as such and considered t~ be exemplary made backgrounds and motivacions, along with sugges-
groups of Wan Kuei (see sidebar). Playing one of tions for T raic choices. You till have to make critical
these wu can be very appeahng-the very name decisions and assign docs. Note also that most of these
of the W14 can open doors and create a reputation. concepts assume a chronicle set in China (or N ihon in the
On the other hand, the young disciples in such a case of the three Nihonjin concepts), but you can easily
wuhave thousanckofyears of cradition to uphold. modify them to suit other Blood & Silk settings.
Ambitious enemies may also be looking to make
a reputation by defeating one of the Hundred. DwoUT.Pl\fur
The god and spi'rits have always spoken to you; you
Suc;c;ESTED Col(CEPIS knew from childhood chat you would serve them. As a
The Middle Kingdom of the Fourth Age is a world young man or woman you stud1ed at anearby temple and,
where strong conventions govern social interactions. 111 time, helped found a new one to honor the gods and
People of a given station are expected to do some things pirits to which you were particularly devoted. You may
as a matter of coui:se and equally expected not to do have served as an official of the government, performing
certain othtrs. History and myth record exceptioru> to mes on behalf of the people and the emperor, or you may
every generalization, of course; nevertheless1 the gener- have performed your devotions tndepenJendy of the
alizations still apply to most cases. state. If you were a woman, the priesthood offered you an
altemaave to domestic service: You couldn't exercise the
The following concepts provide starting-points that
cemporal power of a male priest, but offeang sptritual
allow you to answer ome ofthe questions ofthe character
guidance and instruction has its own reward . Whatever
class you grew up in no longer mattered to you,
though outsiders metimes tried to drag you into
their cular disputes.
Second Breath: The unnghteous always rage
against their betters. Some wicked soul took
off'ense at your devotion, which he saw as an
implicit msult, and murdered you. A strong nse
of unfinashed busine sand a desire to make some-
one pay kept y u t gerher through Yomi's tor-
ments and brought you back to the world. Slight
vadati n m empha is could take you in any
direction. Yo u may Join the ResplendentCranes,
if yQu want to <'.ontinue your priestly calling in
your new on<liti()n. You may devote yourself to
puni hing rhc sort o( person who killed you and
become. a Devil-Tiger. You may decide that a
lifetime of austerity is l"nough and throw your elf
into the sensual world with the. Thrashing Drag-
ons. You may feel called to study more closely the
spine world you served with little knowledge in
life, now that you're pare of it, and become a Bone

Dancer. finally, you may seek neither to be what


you were nor i opposne but pursue instead some
new 1dcnmy. You are suited co be one of the
Thousand Whispers in cha case.
Recommended Dharmas~ Any
Attributes: Mental primary, SocaaTuecondary,
Ph~sical tertiary
Abilities: Knowledges primary, Talents ec-
ondary, Skill tertiary

'/ Recommended Abilities: Empathy, Expression,


Leadership, Lin~uistics, Medicine, Occult, Rituals
Recommended Backgrounds: Allies"'-Conraccs,
Horoscope, Nushi, Rites

Heaven ? It can'r be high enough orfar enough


away for you. You <lidn't care about whatmightlurk
beyond the grave, you JUStwantedacomfortable life
for yourself. you learned how to ay the righc
th~ and take graceful people's money in ex-
change f. r advi c. le wru> a ood routine while it
lasted. Death was JUSt a bit of a shock ....

L---- Second Breath: Everything you assumed


while you were alive proved wrong. If you'd been
les detenruned, you 'd have faced an eternity of
the torments you u ed ro preach about without
believing in them. In life, you had the willpower
necessary to perpetuate a con rant I ie; now, you're
out to maintain a constant truth. If you cling to
the truth thar still,!iving sinner must suff the
wai' you have, you gravitate to the DevIVTigers.
If you decide instead that after one lie you should
experience a multitude of truths, the Thousal\d
Whi pcrs offer you the oppoi::tunitrt<> continue
exploring new true fa es.
~ T"~H: f"&l:P!C> , . SECON_D Bitnt
Recommended Dbarmas: Devil-Tiger, Thousand M~~
Whispers Confucius thought your kind promoted soe.ial tur,
Attributes: Social primary, Mental secondary, moil andunrighteousness; Laotze would have'Preferred
Physical tertiary to see all merchants disappear and the people make do
Abilities: Talents primary, Skills secondary, with what they have. So even sages can be wrong, you
Knowledges tertiary thought, even if in most ways- you sought to practice
Recommended Abilities: Alertness, Empathy, their teachings. You did ilie hard work of buying and
Expression, Performance, Rituals, Subterfuge selling that made ex1s(ence beyond the level of isolated
Recommended Backgrounds: Allies, Contacts, hovels possible and, in return, reaped-a harv'est of envy
Horoscope, Rites and scorn. Your g_reatest hope was- that one of your sons
could study the classics (thanks to your ability to
support a child not busily tolling in the fields), and
Once someone of importance (whether in your move the family into a better rank. You would never be
home town or on the scale of the empire), you withdrew accepted among the great and died with your familiaf
from public Life to pursue personal goals. Your retreat ambition unfulfilled.
inay have been voluntary, born of disgust with the Second Breath: No mere personal concern drew
con::upcion of civic life or of sim'ply apathy, or forced on you out ofYomi and back into the world. You feared for
you as punishment for failures. In either case, you took
up practices not considered proper for worthy gentle-
yot.Jr family and wanted to provide for its safety and
progress in ways life didn't allow you.to. lf you choose

men, possibly even including novel-writing. Women, to mingle among them, perhaps in thedisguiseof'some
usually though not always of the upper classes, some-
times win renown as artists, whether under their own
suitable stranger, the Thrashing Dragons are a good
cholce for your allegiance. If you choose to so:1ke at the

names or under ambiguous pseudonyms. Art carries less unrighteous forces that denieCI yourfamily opportuni-
suggestion of scandal and degeneracy for women than it ties it should have had, yoa'n become a Devil,Tjger. ff
does for men; as a woman, you might have found in the
arts an outlet for impulses you couldn't channel into
politics. Others enjoyed your art, if you let them, but
you seek to guide your family in the.ways of righceous-
ness so that i members can earn th favor of their
superiors and progress"'i.n tbe ways provided for them,
only in private. Death cut off the possibility of rehabilf-
~tion and return ro your former existence.
Second Breath: Death marked the.end of your hopes.
you~ll become a Resplendent Crane. If you Q.rotect and
guide your mortal family from the shadows, ~ou'll
become a Bone Dancer.

No pain of Yomi struck any worse than the knowledge Recommended Dharmas: Bone Dancer, Devil-Ti-
that you would never achieve the status you craved. A ger, Resplendent Crane, Thrashing Dragon
cold rage pushed you up out of the fires, back into the Attributes: Social primary, Physical seconda t
world. lf you take your rejection to heart and now face Mental tertiary
away from mortal life, you make an.excellent Bone Dancer, Abilities: Talents primary, Skills secondary,
finding solace among the dead. If you tum your anger Knowledges tertiary
toward those who kept you from your proper place, you
Recommended Abilities: Alertness, Brawl, Empa-
join the Devil,Tiger crusade. If instead, you prefer to gain
thy, Expression Finance, intimidation, Streetwise
revenge by beating your old enemies at their own game of 1

Recommended Backgrounds: Contacts, Resources


mortal pleasure, using your unnatural vitality to under-
mine and degrade them, then the Thrashing Dragons SoLDJER,
make a good choice.
Ihere is no glory in fighting, even if a few famous
Recommended Dharmas: Bone Dancer, Devil-Ti- generals and strat-egists (like Sun Tzu and Cao Cao of
ger, Thrashing Dragon old) achieve respect for their insights. You occupied
Attributes: Mental primary, Physical secondary, the Lowest rung of the.social ladder, below fanners, who
Social tertiary after all feed everyene. 1 our job exists only because
Abilities: Talents primary, Knowledges sec_ondary, men and women have not yet become moral enough to
Skills tertiary regulate their own affairs. You JOined the army to
Recommended Abilities: Crafts (any), Exeression, escape some personal miseqr and served reasonabl
Occult, Performancei,. Rituals well. finally falling in a battle against some enemy of
Recommended Baclcgtounds: Contacts, Fame, Jade the imperial peace.
Talisman, Rites Second Breath: You escaped the cofls..of Yomi be-
cause t5u are, abovei all, disciplined. That's one benefit
from your milicarytraining~ whether you feel there are any
others depends ort howll.lucb-youdesired to"fig t and how
....!...~..!....!';:::_;;;___..._.......iiiiiiiioti"-!i-"1-------------~
much theannywas just better than the alternatives. ff you
return to the world filled with a sense of your righteous
mission-eitherto be the perfectsoldier or to abolish the
wickedness chat is standing armks - you'll become a
Resplen3ent.Crane. If you decide to take the administra-
tion of justice and defense into your own hands, you'll
probably find the Devil-Tigers more congenial, sincethey
need more warriors than the other Dharmas. Ifyou decide
that it's time to engage in the (di'.sciplined) pursuit of
personal satisfaction rather than war, the Thrashing Di:ag-
ons want you.
Recommended Dharmas: Devil-Tiger, Resplendent
Crane, Thrashing Dragon
Attributes: Physical primary, Mental secondary, So-
cial tertiary
Abilities: Talents primary, Skills secondary,
Knowledges tertiary
Recommended Abilities: Alertness, Athletics, Brawl,
Dodge, Leadership, Martial Arts, Melee, Survival
RecommendedBackgroundS: Allies, Contacts, Herd

WJCQD .8.utD""
It's all very well to talk about virtue when you're
fed and comfortable. You grew up poor but,strong and
found that you could get more of what y6u needed by
taking it rather than asking. The laws and customs
that governors and priests prattle on about never
sei:ved you~ so you never felt obligated to serve them.
Sometimes you lived very well, spending the riches
you took. in much the same style as the now~poor
nobles who matte it possible; sometimes you survived
only wita what ~ou could carry, fleeing organi1Jed
pursuit. Death might have come for you in battle
against the law, on the executioner's scaffold or at the
hands of an ambitious underling.
Second Breath: beach showed you that'4 everyone
does get the reward they deserve in the end. Justice gets
served, even if onlr outside the boundaries of the world
you knew~ Heaven doesn't need y6u. You could do what
you wanted. The drive to experience something new
guided you past all the traps of Yomi. lf you want to just
enjoy life in ways you cou ldn't before, you'll be a Thrash-
ing Dragon. If you decide that you shouldex.petience life
in many different facecs, you'll move to the Thousand
Whispers. If Yomi taught you the error of your ways and
the value of a lawful life, you're a prime candidate for the
Resplendent Cranes.
Recommended Dharmas: Resplendent Crane, Thou-
sand Whispers, Thrashing Dragon
Attributes: Physical primary, Mental secondary,
Social tertiary
@--------------..... __,_,,____~--~ 1,
Abilities: Talent pri(Ilary, .Skills secondary, Recommended Dharmas: Bone Dancer, Devil-Ti-
Knowledge tertiary ger, Resplendent Crane
Recommended Abilities:Alermess, Athletics, Brawl, Attributes: Ment al primary, Social secondary,
Dodge, Intimidation, Leadership, Melee, Stealth, Physical tertiaryi'
Subterfuge, Survival Abilities: Knowledges primary, Talen ts secondary,
Recommended Backgrounds: Allies, Contacts, Skills tertiary
Fame, Resources Recommended bilities: Crafts (Calligraphy),
Expression, lnvestigation, Law, Occult, Polittcs, Rituals
llJc;tt-~ql(c; 8U1t_U.U~ Recommended Backgrounds: eontacts, Rites
You labored many years in the-service ofthe empire
and reaped the rewards of prestige and influence. You YJl\'f'OOUS .S.DJT
might have governed a province or directed one of the The emperor rulesWith the Mancfate of Heaven, but
ministries of a central 'govemme,nt. CountleSs lessei: offi<:
not allnis servants listen to Heaven's will. Good men and
dals caaied o ut your orders, while.v.ou. enjoyed tlie.gocxi
women sbmetimes run afoul of wicked officials. That
life to which you were entitled. happened to }'OU. Trumped-up Charges forced you to flee
Second Breath: The wo kl n eeds you. :You didn't your _home and stripped you of whatever rank you once
become any less essential simply because ')'eu'r-e dead. Aheld. You divided your time between surviving as best you
proper sense of duty prese~ed ydu from the sn;es of
Yomi. If y"ou seek to continue"presiding as .one of the
could - sometimes by admittedly ,.1;_1nrighteous means
such as th'"eft"- and trying to clear your good name. In the

natural leaders of the world, the Resplendent Cranes end, death came before pardon.
want you. If instead, you wish to show how the wise man Second B reath: You found no fustice in Yomi.
savors the experiencesof the world and masters them all._Whatever in the cosmos might care about rightepusness,
you make an..exemplary Thrashing Dragon. it. did nothing for you. Filled with a ick despair at the
Recommended Dharmas: "'Resplenaent Crane, state of things, you forced your way back into the world
Thrashing Dragon
Attributes: S,ocial 'Primary, Mental secondary;
to do what Heaven will not. If you:::seek to live as the
virtuous-person you were, a,ugmentecl by t e powers of
Physical tertiary y-0ur kind, you.join the-Resplendent Cranes. Ifou wish
Abilities: Talents primary, Knowle<lges secondary,
S~ills tertiary
to stdk:e dowu the wicked, knowing r:hatjuscice.lies only
in your nands, you join the Devil,Tlgers. 1fyou decide to
try on a multit,ude of sins and virrues in search of

R ecommendea A bilities: Crafts (Calligraphyj,
Exwession, Law, Leadership. Occult, ,,olitic~ Rituals whatever m0ra realm now earns Heaven's attention,
y~u become o ne of the Thousand Whispers.
RecommenCled Backgr911nds: Allies, Contacts,
Fame, Rites R ecommended Dbarmas: Devil-Tiger, Resplendent
Crane, Thousand Whispers
loW'~c; .8Uit_U.UClft&1""" Attributes-: Mental primary, Physical secondary,
Your progress up the ladder of sociaLdistination Social tertiary
was interrupted by your p~emature death. Yo u retain A bilities: Talents primary, Skills secondary,
the aetailed knowledge of the literary classics required ~owledges tertiary
for acceptance into the civil service ana wnatever Skills Recommended Abilities: Alertness, Athletics, Mar,
you acquired imQLementing the orders handed down tial Arts or Melee, Medicine, Stealth, Subterfuge, Sur-
from above. Whatever authority yot.lwielded was on a vival
local level. Recommended Backgrounds: Allies, Contacts, Fame
Second Breath: Yomi destroyed your pride in your
accomplishments thu_s far, leaving behind only the JMp~ ~HAIJW f"1HO..,JN_)
ambition to dp more, to go farther, to hold more.power. The emperor, 0ffspring_of.the gods whe created the.
If you still seek power in the mortal hierarchy ocin the Home Islands, in theory holds all power. In practice,
society of Wan Kuej, you beco m_e a Resplenden t:Crane ambitious nobles have.held -all the real authority for
to master the appropriate ools of leadersh~. If you centuries-. As part of the imperial family, you lived your
now focus on. the society of the dead, 'f(!U become a entire life in comfort, with all y,our'fleeds attended to
Bone Dancer, with the intent offorcing the ghustly anCl precisely no opportunity to exert authority of any
hierarchy ro acknowledge your authorit . Ifyou decine sort. Your ever-deferential masters steered your interests
to focus on advancement through 12,u rging the unde- toward the arts or religion or anything but governance.
serving, the Devil Tige~ puoy,oudamiliarity with the The Second Breath offered you the opportunity to do all
mortal hierarchy to work. tlie things denied you in life.
Second Breat h : Yomi was just your life writ large,
ftill of incomprehensible rules Ciesign ed to keep you
from anything that would threaten the regime. As
much out of b r dom a anything else~ you studied
the system, found a loophole a nd exploited it to
escape. If you see this a your opportunity ro
experience the sensual wo rld as your guardians
would never have allowed 1 you become a Thrru;h-
ing Dragon. If you decide that you've been chosen
to judge the world, wielding after cfeath the power
a lways denied to you life, you become a Oevil-
Tiger. lf you see opportunities for insight and
advancement tn the Yin World, you become a
Bone Dancer.
Recommended Dharmas: Bone Dancer, Devil
Tiger, Thrashing Dragon
Attributes: Social primary, Mental secondary,
Physical tertiary'
Abilities: Knowledges primary, Skills secondary,
T alents tertiary
Recommended Abilities: Crafts, Etiquette, Ex,
pression, Performance, Politics
Recommended Backgrounds: Allies, Contacts,
Fame, Resources

~.,._ ........., f14JHOIUJI()


You come from a long and honorabl lineage of
Japanese no i hey. Yourfamilyraised you t-0 be a leader
in every sense, masterof che arts and sC.holarly lore, as
well as of a warrior's skills. While nobody can do
everything to th~ ame degree ofexcellence,sou're ac
least good 1h a very wide range of abilities. You did
your pare to rule your land; depending on che era in
which you lived, you may have been a champfon of a
stable regime or a defender of right ideas in a time of
chaos. Most probably, you died in battle, though
illnes 11nd happenstance can strike at your class, a
well as those beneath you.
Second Breath: What is death to one who has
true honor? Hell has no power. to bind chc soul
untainted by cowardice or deceit. le was just a
matter of rime before you broke the shackle Yomi
placed upon you and returned to the world, as was
only dghr. If you take advantage of yoar new con,
d ition to become an even more perfecrwarrior and
leader, the R plendent Cranes help you develop
your full pocenr1al. If you decide co becom th
pctfect judge and corre tor of wrongs, the. DeviJ,
Tigers want you. If you feel called upon to bring the
bcnefic of your enlightenment co ghosts and the
creature of the afterlife, chen the Bone,. Dancers
put your wi dom to us .
Recommended Dharma.s: Bone Dancet, Devil-
Tigcr1 Resplendent Crane
Attributes: Physical primacy,,Mencalsecondary,
Social tertiary
Abilities: Skills primary, Talents secondary,
Knowledge tertiary
Cum~ T~u: T'"~ ~,.!:!:~wtt @ . ~ _81
Recommended Abilities: Alertness, Athletics, Dodge, combination of treachery and brute force brought you
Etiquene, Leadership, Martial Arts, Melee, Politics back to the world. So there you were. If you resume
Recommended Backgrounds: Allies, Contacts, Fame, something like the good life you once led, you're a natural
Herd, Influences, Resources Thrashing Dragon. Ifyou find yourself rethinking what it
means to be a samurai and what you can and should do
U-.count $tURtAJ (tbHOtUJI() now, you become a Resplendent C rane.
You were one of the rulers of the land who held power Recommended Dharmas: Resplendent Crane,
through force of anus. Your ancestors clawed their way up Thrashing Dragon
from the mass ofsociety thwugh sustained effort, showing Attributes: Physical primary, Mental secondary,
themselves better soldiers and commanders than their Social tertiary
ri-vals. Once in power, they foisted off the boring admin- Abilities: Skills primary, T alents secondary,
istrative parts of ruling on assistants. You took pleasure in Knowledges tertiary
battle, not courtly posturing.
Recommended Abilities: Alertness, Athletics, Dodge,
Second Breath: Yomi was a challenge, the biggest, Intimidation, Martial Arts, Melee, Survival
strongest set of power mongers you'd ever met. How could
Recommended Backgrounds: Allies, Contacts, Fame,
you resist the chance to prove chem inadequate? The right
Herd, Resources




J
, ti qr
l -

~~' ~
f
I
, .
....
:j)'' ! .....

~ "
\!~ \
I
I /'
I
~
/
I \
'
/

~~
Heaven is like an egg, and the earth is Like the
yolk of the egg.
-Chang Heng

The twilight of the Fourth Age is quite different from ..EY/ .pi0 t{ATuR.,ES
the twilight of the Fifth. In the mortal sphere, technology
and culture are very different, and large-scale contact A vampire's P'o is a little less dominant in the
with the West is centuries away. For the Wan Kuei, the Fourth Age than in the Fifrh, but it is also somewhat
differences are even greater. The Wall between worlds is more sophisticated. This is a time of rich culture and
thinner, the grip of the Demon on a vampire is weaker, richer corruption, not the raging Armageddon of the
and the Wan Kuei are less debased overall. All these twilight of the Fifth Age. As such, several new P'o
differences, mundane and supernatural, lead to some new Natures are available to players of Blood & Silk. If
or modified game mechanics. they wish, Storytellers of modem Kindred of the East
can allow these types of P'o into their chronicles as
The Traits and systems in this chapter function
rare throwbacks.
alongside those established in Kindred of the East and in
the basic Storyteller game system. The text explains when r... AN.Cfl:l(I""
these systems replace those in Kindred of the East. The Ancient looks back along the trail plowed by
the Wheel of Ages and believes that in past Ages it
wouldn't have suffered the torments it did in Yomi and
The following new Traits are important for charac- the ones it continues to suffer after the Second Breath.
ters in the Fourth Age and reflect both supernatural and The Wan Kuei's wiser predecessors (at Least before they
social changes between the eras. Some of the Abilities succumbed to pride) existed more harmoniously. The
have appeared in other World of Darkness products (such Ancient P'o thinks the Hun can never measure up and
as Vampire: The Dark Ages or the Vampire Storytellers wants it to simply surrender, so as to relieve the P'o from
Companion) but are repeated here because they are ~ts pain. When in shadow soul, your character shows
indispensable to Blood & Silk. obsessive concern for everything old and contempt for
everything new.
84 ~ ~~---------------------------~
Conditions for Takeover: The Ancient can force a Tu SAc;1
shadow soul roll whenever an innovation causes the Wan The Sage focuses on the aspect of unexpected truth in
Kuei pain or some other form of discomfort. It may also y omi. lt wasn't quite like what the vampire had ever been
force a roll whenever the Wan Kuei abuses old things. taught.Nowrhatithasretumed,howcan theP'orrustthe
doctrines it follows? The Sage P'o seeks out any doctrine
Tu~sr
that seems more likely to account for the truths of its
The Artist tore itself out of Yomi to accomplish a
experience, as long as it's something the vampire will find
single task, some vision of artistic creation chat the Wan uncomfortable and difficult co follow. The P'o listens co
Kuei harbored in life but was unable to undertake then.
whispers carried up from Yomi about teachings no longer
Nothing else matters to the Artist but that work. It berates
known to living people or held only far away, in addition
the Hun for succumbing to other concerns, whether the
to studying the various schools of thought the vampire
distraction is Dharmic progress or some momentary plea-
encounters in his travels. When in shadow soul, the Wan
sure. When in shadow soul, your character devotes all her
Kuei temporarily abandons his Dhanua and direction in
attention to the great work; she may sever annoying
favor of some alternative that requires a dramatic change
commitments or simply ignore them.
in behavior.
Conditions for Takeover: The Artist attempts to
Conditions for Takeover: The Sage can force a roll for
gain control whenever the Wan Kuei turns away from the
shadow soul when the Wan Kuei finds a weakness in his
great work or whenever an opportunity to advance the
Dharma - some restriction that works against personal
work in an important way presents itself.
desires or goals.
Y-HE Eato Tu Vrr&LJST
The Echo escaped from Yomi just like every other
The Vitalist wants just one thing: renewed mortal
Wan Kuei P'o, but unlike most ofthe others, it doesn'tfeel
life. The vampire can't quite get to it, of course. Even
worthy ro have gained a release denied to so many others.
extreme Yang imbalance only makes her something that's
It retains a strong spiritual link to whichever hell used to
merely lifelike in some regards. The Vitalist P'o strives to
hold it. Its goal is to break down the soul's resistance and
get as close as it can. le may seek after whatever life the
lure it back to Yomi, and its weapon is the voices ofall who
vampire once had or aspire to greatness or seek some new
remain below. The Echo P'o has a mind of its own but
social role, depending on its own preferences. When in
chooses not to use its own voice; whenever it speaks, it
shadow soul, the vampire turns away from everything
draws on memories of words others said in Yomi or on
connected to Wan Kuei society in an effort to reenter the
impressions of what others still there now say. When in
mortal world.
shadow soul, the vampire focuses obsessively on the
Conditions for Takeover: The Vitalist reaches for
suffering in Yomi and the unearned release he and other
control when the vampire confronts a situation that
Wan Kuei enjoy, in hopes of shaming, scaring or depress,
reminds her ofher mortal life or that presents her with the
ing himself and his peers into a return to Yomi.
opportunity to continue a mortal goal she abandoned
Conditions for Takeover: The Echo triggers shadow
after death.
soul whenever the Wan Kuei is confronted with evi-
dence of loss and death - graveyards and cenotaphs are TuW~~ol\
bad places for these vampires. The Warrior fought its way out of Yomi and contin-
T""'HE lut.{UClt ues to survive by fighting. The lesson of the Second
Breath is that there's not enough to go around. Anyone
The Eunuch found confirmation in Yomi of the
(and anything) who gees in the P'o's way, denying it the
age,old notion that all endeavor is futile. Everything it
things it needs and wants, brings it that much closer to
might make ends up fodder for demons. Even after its
a return to Yomi. The Warrior P'o wi 11 allow nothing to
escape, it retains a sense of moral, intellectual and
stand in the way of the vampire's continued to existence
spiritual impotence - despair turned to the convic-
in the material world. When in shadow soul, the vam-
tion that itshou/.dnotcreate anythingnew. The Eunuch
pire fights with everyone who seems threatening -
P'o refuses to undertake any enterprise beyond the
regardless of whether that threat is real and present or
basics of survival, instead devoting itself to appropriat-
merely hypothetical.
ing the work of others for its own ends. When in
Conditions for Takeover: The Warrior can force a
shadow soul, the Wan Kuei abandons an y original
roll for shadow soul when the Wan Kuei declines an
projects of her own and tries to become overseer,
opportunity for violent conflict (which isn't obviously
director or steward of others' efforts.
bound to failure) in favor of more peaceful means and
Conditions for Takeover: The Eunuch can force a
when he submits or cooperates with a rival.
shadow soul whenever the Wan Kuei faces situations that
require him to lead others or when others are acutely
dependent on him.
85

..~YI SrJu.s Gather strength against the P'o. Roll Wits+ Medi-
tation, difficulty oflO, Hun. Each success adds one to the
Alt,CIQ,~ character's dice pool for his next effort to resist fire or
shadow soul. A character can try this only once per night,
Attacks beyond the range ofhuman throwing rely on
and the benefit does not carry over after sleep.
the bow. Archery is the skill of maintaining and using the
various styles of bow made in the Middle Kingdom during Any botch on one of these rolls brings the character
the Fourth Age. Archery is used in combat just like out of his trance, and he cannot reenter it for the rest of
Firearms. the night. Significant physical interference in the first
hour also breaks the trance, but the character can start the
Novice: You can shoot unmoving
process again.
targets, usually.
These rules supercede those on pp. 83-84 ofKindred
Practiced: You can take part in a mass
of the East.
battle without bringing too much
embarrassment on yourself and can Novice: You've seen monks pray.
support your family through hunting. Practiced: You know a handful of
Competent: You lead archer units in common prayers and can recite some
war. useful stories about how the ancients
mastered meditation.
Expert: You advise generals on the
effective use of archers. Competent: You've learned from masters
of spiritual discipline and enjoy a local
Master: Observers expect you to
reputation for spiritual purity.
apotheosize and become the God of
Archers. Expert: Scholars and potentates consult
you for insights into the wisdom ofthe ages.
Possessed by: Soldiers, Hunters
Specialties: Target Practice, Horseback (see p. 123) Master: Yes.
Possessed by: Monks, Jina, Teachers
MED'1'UJO... Specialties: Riddles, Controlling the P'o
It's possible to calm the inner storms that disrupt
mind and body and achieve a state of relaxed awareness .PfLOr
that makes man'y unusual feats possible. Meditation Operating a boat successfully takes training and
represents the various techniques taught in the Middle practice. Different sorts of boats require separate spe-
Kingdom toward th is end - keep in mind that very few cializations: rafts and canoes, small sailboats, ocean-
characters actually know multiple techniques. Every going vessels.
meditating character must use some technique (man- Novice: You don't sink your ship very
tras, yoga, etc.). often.
The character must make an intelligence + Medita- Practiced: You can handle yourselfsafely
tion roll, difficulty 7, to enter a meditative trance. Once in most conditions, and nobody feels the
there, the character can attempt one of the following need to abandon ship when you take the
actions each hour: wheel.
Regain Willpower. Roll Intelligence+ Meditation, Competent: You know the limits of your
difficulty 9. Each success restores one point ofWillpower. vessel and yourself and deal with adverse
Solve an enigma, piece together clues to a mystery conditions calmly.
or evaluate some other mental challenge. Roll Percep- Expert: Patrons offer you large sums of
tion+ Meditation, difficulty 9. Each success lowers the money to lead their maritime expeditions.
difficulty of the character's next Investigation or Enig- Master: Tales of your prowess mingle
mas roll by 1. with accounts of sea gods.
Overcome wound penalties. Roll Stamina + Possessed by: Sailors, Traders, Explorers
Meditation, with a difficulty of 2 + the character's Specialties: Rough Seas, Vessel Types, Nighttime
current number of health levels of damage. Each suc- Sailing
cess lets the character ignore one level of wound pen-
alty for the rest of the night. A character who gets three -,D~
successes, for instance, can ignore any penalty of-3 or The poorest people walk. The richest people get
less, and a -4 penalty acts like a -1 penalty. If the carried. Everyone else rides, if they wish to go long
character becomes Incapacitated, these benefits no distances. This ability covers how to rend for one's
longer apply. A character can attempt this use of horse as well as ride it. Ride also serves as a cap on all
meditation only once per night. combat Abilities when engaged in mounted battle (see
p. 122 for more).
____..,.....___________._._______

.
.
,
-
;
~
~
_
.
_
~
Novice: You can prop up pretty well on D;sr.1.111 :uu OF"" THE
a horse at slow speeds. -,.--_,...._
Practiced: You ride at all speeds safely, FO UDTlt ~I
and few challenges throw you. "'- ~
O:impetent: You'd make a good cavalry Most of the Disciplines of the Fourth Age are the
offi_cer. same as those of the Fifth. The fallen nature of the Wan
Expert: You're famous for your riding Kuei is still evolving, however, and some of their powers
in war and peace. If you're so inclined, undergo significant transformation as the Wheel of Ages
your stunts are the talk of the provinces. turns. Most notably, the Godbody (or Shintai) Disci,
Master: No horse can throw you, no plines are very different than they will be in the modern
challenge delay you. era; in the Fourth Age, they remain much closer to the
elemental powers wielded by theTen Thousand lmmor,
Possessed by: Cavalrymen, Nobles, Country Folk
tals before their downfall. The Soul Art of Cultivation
Specialties: Speed, Tricks; Racing, Combat
is also significantly different, in rhis case because the
t{EYI MQJTS a FiAW's understanding of the P'o is still developing among the
Hungry Dead.
F"&Vomt_s fV.utJMu ~/FiAW') See page 66 for more details on which Disciplines are
available in the Fourth Age.
Wan Kuei society, like the mortal societies around it,
runs on mutual obligations. Backgrounds like Allies,
Mentor and Retainers reflect permanent connections of
T'HE c;oDBODY or 1-~Tlfi
duty. See pp. 117,119 for a full discussion of prestation (JADE- SttJli(TAJ)
among the Wan Kuei. The Favors Merit (and Flaw) The Godbody of Earth aims at balancing the flow of
represents the character's current balance of social ac, Chi, allowing the vampire to orient himselfwith the center
counts as the chronicle begins. of things.
Storytellers who prefer not to make these things Chi Attunement: Strength
subject to point totals should feel free to disregard or
disallow this Merit. It's presented here for those who like
to have an objective tally and want to give players the
U1tD6'.$T.UCD,..c; W'tnt ,..... I"~
The vampire harmonizes his soul with the local
option to have their ch:i.racters start up or down (or both) powers, becoming part of the overall pattern of Chi flow
in the prestation game. in the vicinity, as immovable as any mountain or tree.
Each positive point ofFavors represents one major boon System: Whenever he chooses rouse Understanding
thatsomeone close to the character owes him. Each.negative with the Earth, the vampire cannot be picked up, thrown
point of Favors represents a major boon the character owes down or knocked back. He must stay standing (or lying)
to someone else. The player should work with the Storyteller where he is while the power is in effect; when he chooses
to define what these are-no debts exist in the abstract. Did to move, the effect ends. It takes one action to start or stop
the charactersave another vampirefrom a rampaging demon using Understanding with the Earth; no roll is required.
hunter? Did some other vampire teach the character a bit of
secret lore or help resolve a conflict betore it escalated into
a duel the character would lose? Keep in mind that differ,

The vampire places herself in a state of peaceful
ences of status will affect the value offavors (see "Favors and disengagement from the local powers and becomes ca,
Prestation,11 pp. 117-117). This means that a young disciple pable of moving across any and all surfaces.
owed a boon by a mandarin might expect a good word at System: The vampire must spend one action concen,
court or permission to act at a critical time; a disciple owing trating to use Harmony with the Earth. She can then
a mandarin a boon can expect much more significant risk. move along any surface, including liquids, and up walls
Multiple positive or negative points can represent and ceilings. She leaves no footprints and makes little or
many favors owed or especially impressive favors. You no sound; all efforts to detect her are at+ 2 difficulty. She
should maintain separate counts for favors owed to and by takes half normal damage from falls and can jump twice
the character; he can have both a two,point Favor Flaw her normal distance. Ifshe takes damage, the player must
and a one-point Favor Merit simultaneously. make a Willpower check at difficulty 7 to avoid the
Obviously, a character's point total of negative and vampire slipping out of Harmony with the Earth; other,
positive Favors rises and falls during play. In a society as wise, the effect lasts for one scene.
dependent on assistance and negotiation as Wan Kuei
and their guanxi, Favors can make the difference between Ul(JTY W'Jnt THE- E._,....
success and failure in critical moments. The vampire identifies himself with the local pow,
ers and can merge with any substance of the natural
world in the vicin ity. This unity does not work on matter
Cwnt. ro..1 Ylua ~ ~ @ x

native to the worlds beyond the Wall; that's the realm of Make a Dextenty + Athletics roll, difficulty 6, when
other Disciplines. the vampire attempt. combat or other panicularl) dt:
System: The vampire spends one Chi and concen- manding acti\'ities. Each success allows her to engage in
crat~ for three rums. Make a Manipulation+ Etiquette roll the cask for one tum; when she's used up the available
against the local Wall ratmg. If the roll succeeds, the ucces es, she must roll again to continue. On failure, she
vampire merges seamlessly with his target substance, much moves gently to the surface of the eanh in a rum or two.
like the Protean p6wer of Earth Meld. Unlike Earth Meld, On a botch, she plummets down or hurtles up to the
Unity with the Earth works with all :;olid or liquid natural surface, taking a level of lethal damage along the way.
substances. Mergmg with material created or significantly The vampire can follow the C h i line she moves with
re.~haped by conscious effort, like building walls or refined wherever tt goes without having to make fresh efforts nc
metals, requires a separate Mampulation +Etiquette roll, nttunement even as it moves through areas with different
difficulty 7, co peak with the ubsrance's spirit and under Wall ratings. She cannot fly off m a direction of her own
stand its nature before attempting to merge. choosing, bur can also shifr co new lines at any time. Make
Once merged, the vampire can move at his normal a Dexterity+ Chi Virtue roll against the new local Wall
walking speed. Mental and spiritual attacks affect him racing. The vampire can continue Moving wich the Earch
dircct~y. If he's moving on the surface of a mass of some based on a single atrunement for one scene.
substance, he's visible to anyone watching - he retains
his usual appearance- but physical attacks musr destroy
or remove the surrounding ubstance before he can be The vampire meditates and transforms his own sub-
attacked himself. stance into one of the five elements. His body retain itlr
Example : Lin Hua uses Unity wirh the Earth w step general propomons, but no observer would mistake him
into a granite cliff face. The Yang Prana masters Mao Gu for a normal human being or even a normal shen.
and Mao Ho pursue him. Mao Gu uses Eightfold Yang System: Spend 4 points of Chi, in the proportions
Mantle to blast a significant part of the cliff in to pebbles and indicated for each element, and l Willpower. Make an
dust. If Lin were standing in the blasted area, he'dsuddenly Intelligence + Occult roll, difficulty 7, if the vampire is
be vulnerable w normal physical attack. However, he not touching a greater-th an-man-sized quantity of the
manages w move out of the blast zone in time. so Mao H o element he's imitating; otherwise, no roll is necessary. All
goes after him with Semblance of the Scarlet Queen. In forms let the vampire use his Stamina to soak aggra\'ated
spirit form, Mao Ho can then pursue Lin Hua. The earth damage. The transformation las~ unnl the \'ampire chooses
only offers so much concealment. to rehnqu1sh it or falls asleep.
Ir costs no Chi to maintain Untty with the Earth Water (4 Yin). The vampire becomes chilly, dark
through one slumber. Upon waking or upon significant water. Any light falling upon his body is instantly ab
disturbance to the substance in which he rests, he returns sorbcc.I, and loud sounds lose half their volume a they
to physical form. [r takes a separate Manipulation + disappear into the echo-less depths of the vampire's
Etiquette ro ll, difficulty of che local Wall rating, to pass form. Anyone within arm's reach of the vampire must
from one sort of substance co another. make a Stamina roll, difficu lty 7, to avoid losing a point
of Dexterity as a result of the chill; this loss remain m
effect until the victim leaves the vampire's presenct- for
The vampire attunes herself to a line of Chi and can a scene. Each time the vampire trikes someone, the
follow 1t through the air, along the ground and underwa target must make the same roll again, and any target who
ter with equal ease. She can engage in other tasks without reaches zero Dexterity succumbs co cold, possibly <level~
losing the attunement, alchough complex actions may oping fro tbite and certainly losing consciou ness. Mc
require an effort co maintain concentration. callic objects striking the character take a point of
System: Roll Dexterity+ the vamprre's Yin or Yang damage, in the fonn of suddenly appearing ruse aml
Chi (whichever is appropriate), difficulty of the local corrosion, each timt: they connect. The character can
Wall, to find and align with a lineofYinorYangChi. The dissolve inro a manStZed pool and reform at will (each
vampire can move through the air and nlong the ground t ransformation requires an acnon) .
at up to 60 miles per hour, minus 5 mph per point of the Metal (3 Yin, 1 Yang). The vampire becomes dark
local Wall rating. (With a Wall rating of 7, for instance, blue or black polished metal, with highUghts indercn
the vampire can move at 25 mph.) The vampire suffers no dent of any illumination in the area. Lightning crackb
penalty for abrupt rums and other violations of inenia, across his armored skin; anyone striking him with bare
since she moves as part of the system of world power. She skin or conductive (all metal) weapons cakes 2 leveli. of
can move through liquids at hnlf the air and surface speed bashing damage for each tum they maintain con tact.
and through solid objects in a semi-tangible form at her The vampire does lethal instead of bashing damage in
normal walking speed. In every case, he can adjust her hand-to-h and combat and can stake Yang-balanceJ
speed to hovering at rest, moving at the maximum al- vampires with h is bare hands (difficulty 9, three or more
lowed or anything in between. successes needed co stake). By sustained effort, the
88
. @
vampire can .muster e_normous strength: Wherever a feat Athletics roll, difficulty 7. One success ignites paper and
of st~ength like pushing down a barrier usually requires the like; ittakesS or more successes to boil dry small ponds
earning the necessary successes on one roll, a vampire in or ignite thoroughly drenched logs. The maximum range
elemental metal form can keep pushing. Make an ex- for such blasts is twice the vampire's Willpower in feet.
tendedseriesofrolls,accumulatingsuccessesuntilreach- The vampire does not have to test for wave soul when
ing the required threshold. On a failed roll, lose half the using this effect, although those around him do. If he
acc~mulated successes, and on a botch, start all over botches the effort to manipulate fire, however, he auto-
agam. The vampire cannot engage in combat or tasks matically falls into wave soul.
requiring fine manipulation while shoving this way. A
vampire already using a Discipline that makes her nor- 'rHE c;oDBODY OF Ff~E
'c;HOsr-FiAMl SttJt(TAJ J
mal combat damage lethal does aggravated damage with
this ability.
Earth (2 Yin, 2 Yang). The vampire becomes a The God body of Fire deals with the elemental flames
walking mixture of rock and gems. Whenever a weapon of Chi. Mastery of the forces that normally destroy Wan
strikes the vampire, make a roll against her Stamina, Kuei inspires both respect and fear,dependingonhowthe
difficulty 6. Each success delivers a level of damage to the vampire uses his powers. God.body of Fire can work with
weapon through the shock of impact. The vampire can both Yin and Yang fires. Yang fires bum white, yellow or
red, while Yang fires bum black, gray or blue.
clog any machinery or object with moving parts by touch-
ing it for a tum, summoning dust and dirt to jam its Practitioners ofthe Godbody ofFire have an intimate
mechanisms. (If the vampire jams a water wheel ot blocks understanding of that element, which helps them sup-
an aqueduct chute from closing, the secondary effects can press the P'o's instinctive fear of flames. When testing for
be horrendous and widespread.) The vampire can also wave soul triggered by open flames, the playerofa vampire
raise brief clouds of dust or dirt within 10 feet of herself with at least two dots in this Discipline gains a -2 difficulty
which last for one tum per point of her Willpower. Ali bonus on the Hun's roll. This applies only to wave soul
tasks requiring clear visibility take a + 2 difficulty penalty triggered by open flames.
for those within the cloud (or trying to strike into it); Chi Attunement: Stamina
liquids clot and condense, while fires choke and gutter
out. Any breathing creature takes two levels of bashing Ff--~ JI( 1'111- hi'
damage, which can be soaked, from congested lungs. The vampire kindles Chi fire inside himself. It shines
Wood (3 Yang, 1 Yin). The vampire becomes an out not only through his eyes, but through his mouth and
animated mass of organic material: a tree-like sculpture of even his ears; if he's wounded, small flames also lick out
himself, a mound ofmossorwhateverfits the environment through the wound.
and his wishes. The vampire can make all plant life in his System: The vampire can tum this power on and off
line of sight visibly grow or wither. He can also stake Yin- at will (doing so is a reflexive action). His bite does an
balanced vampires in hand-to-hand combat (difficulty 9, extra die of aggravated damage, and he can see in com-
three or more successes needed to stake). He can also plete darkness. By staring at a target for one turn, the
concentrate his will so as to make a chosen target succumb vampire may attempt to inspire fear in others; vampires
to blight and disease. {Note that only mortals are vulner, must roll as usual to avoid wave soul, while mortals and
able to most diseases, although permanently Yang-unbal- shen must make a Willpower roll, difficulty 7, to avoid
anced vampires can become carriers.) Make a Stamina+ running in terror. The difficulty of intimidation-related
Intimidation roll, difficulty 7. Ifsuccessful, the targetdevel- tasks is one lower than usual while using Fire in the Eye.
ops some wasting condition, taking one level of lethal
damage immediately and one more each day thereafter
upon awakening. The target's player can make a Stamina The vampire can pick up fire and tum it into
roll, difficulty 8, each day; when the accumulated successes elemental flame and can conjure fire out of nowhere by
match the number ofsuccesses on the disease-inducing roll, an act of will. She can also command nearby fires to
the disease runs its course and stot>s. The vampire can move any way she wants, sending pyrotechnic sparks
choose to change his manifestation and spread out into a anywhere she can see and shaping flames into patterns
variegated clump ofplant life and back into human form at that last as long as she concentrates on them.
will (each transformation requires an action). System: Spend a point of Yin or Yang Chi. The
Fire (4 Yang). The vampire becomes pure white or vampire can transform or create enough elemental fire to
scarlet fire, radiating intense heat. Ranged attacks against form a ball about three feet across; she can subdivide it and
him are at+ 2difficulty because it's hard to target precisely recombine it at will. The vampire can spend more points
through the surrounding glare. At his discretion, the ofChi, though on!y one kind at a time, to create more fire.
vampire can set anything flammable on fire by touching Creating each Chi point of fire requires an action. The
it. He can even try to send out a momentary flicker of fire vampire can wield this Chi fire as a weapon, using it as the
and heat sufficient for the task by making a Dexteriry + equivalent ofany sort of melee weapon to inflict Strength
Ctllm~ F"ou~: Vlus ~ lfu.Wl4 19
==== ~---------------..--..............------~~~
+ 2 dice damage. Yang fire causes straightforward aggra- does. It takes on his own appearance and general propor-
tions, though it continues to crackle and ripple as flames
vated damage from fire; Yin fire "burns" the victim's soul.
Damage bums away the victim's Willpower, although herdo. He can also infuse ir with Chi to make it more
player may soak with Hun or Self-Control. (See "Soul spectacular and dangerous.
Flaying" on p.106 for more details.) T he vampire cannot System: Merging into or emerging from flame re-
be damaged by Chi fire she creates. quires no Chi, just a turn' concentration. The vampire
The vampire can also control normal flames within a
cakes a+ 2 difficulty penalty to all combat tasks during thi
number ofyards equal to her Yang Virtue. These move at
process. Once merged with the flame, the vampire can
her will and can strike targets in combat. The player rolls
move at his normal walking speed and can jump twice as
Dexterity+ Yang to strike targets, and the flames do high orfarasusual.Hecanpasshimsdffromoneflameto
normal damage for their size and intensity. The vampire
another as long as he extends a connecting prominence.
herself is not immune to the effects offlames she controls.
Doing so requires a tum of concentration, anJ the promi-
The vampire can attempt to blind a target rather than
nence has a maximum range of a number of yard equal to
damage it, with either Chi fire or manipulated normalh is highest Chi Virtue. The vampire can remam in the
flames. Roll damage as usual. If the damage roll produces
flames until he goes to sleep.
more successes than the target achieves on a Stamina + In hand-to-hand combat, the vampire does damage
Alertness roll, the target is blinded for one rum plus one
based on the fire he has become, not any actual impact.
additional tum per extra success. The player must still roll to hit, but <lamagc is based on
The vampire can use summoned fires to enhance herhow much fire che target is exposed to. A simple strike
appearance. Doing so takes an action, but her Social is equivalent to being hit by a torch, while a full tackle
Attributes are effectively cwo higher than normal foris equivalent to being stuck in a raging inferno. Victims
efforts at command, intimidation, interrogation, leader-
lucky enough to be able to soak damage from fire face a
difficulty of (5 + attacker's Godbody of Fire). The
ship and the like, as long as she can maintain the flames.
Common enhancing manifestations include cloaks of attacker's player can spend a point of Yin or Yang Chi to
flame and flames from the eyes. make the flame his character occupies take on an el-
emental form; it does an extra level of aggravated dam-
SEIF Jt( 11K F"fl!ll~ age and increases the difficulty of resisting wave soul for
The vampire can merge with any body of flame that nearby Wan Kuei by + 1. (See Vampire: The Masquer..
occupies at least as much space as his body normally ade, p. 227, for full rules on fire.}
~-~~~~---------------------------~
The vampire's player can also spend a point of Cht to
toss offa separate spark of fire with the range and accuracy The vampire draws upon his unity with fire to gain
of a regular thrown knife. Such a spark does a single level supernatural protection from both fire and sunlight.
of aggravated damage with a soak difficulty (if appropri- System: The vampire can resist damage from fl.re and
ate) of (3 +attacker's God.body of Fire). sunlight twice as long as usual, with no upper limit. In
D"6JMll(Cf THE FT".E- addition, the "timer" resets when the character spends
one turn per permanent Yin Chi indoors. Thus a charac-
The vampire turns herself into a conduit from the
ter with Stamina 5 and Yin Chi 3 could spend four
material world into the spirit worlds. She draws nearby
minutes in direct sunlight, rhen three turns indoors, then
flames into herself, redirecnng them beyond the Wall
another four minutes outside and keep this up all day.
where they dissipate harmlessly. She can read traces, both
Each point of Yang Chi the vampire spends to extend his
in cuqcnt flames and in their ashen remains, of impres-
period of safety in daylight adds two turns of protection
sions picked up by the spirits of fire. With care and
rather than one. Even when damage does begin, it rakes
practice, she can extract useful images of past events that
effect more slowly. On the first tum of exposure, the
occurred around the fire.
vampire loses a Health level. Next tum, he loses a level
System: To extinguish flames, spend a poim ofeither from each of his Physical Attributes. Next tum.. he loses
sort ofC hi. The vampire must concentrate for a tum. Roll a level of Appearance. The rum after that, he loses a point
Stamina+ (appropriate Chi Virtue) against a difficulryof of temporary Yin Chi. This cycle repeats as long as he
the local Wall rating. For each success, the vampire can
takes damage.
reduce the heat (and associated soak difficulty) of a
The vampire also gains a +2 bonus for resistipg wave
nearby fire by one. The fire must be within a number of
soul triggered by sunlight. See p. 106, for the details on
yards equal to the character's appropriate Chi Virtue; if
sunlight's usual effects during the Fourth Age.
the vampire cannot see the fire, add 2 to the difficulty of
the roll.
The vampire shunts the fire across the Wall mro the
Tn
c;oDBODY oF"Mn-
appropriate pir1tual realm (Yin or Yang}. 1n the Yang f8ol(~~'
World, flames generally merge with the ambient raging The God body o f Metal deals with the transfonnation
Yang, while they sputter and die in the cold Yin World. ofone'sself (and eventually the environment) into some-
This is generaUy harmless, but at the Storyteller's discre- thing inhuman, purging che qualities of life in favor of
tion, such sudden gouts of flame across the Wall may lifeless hardness and purity.
attract spirits to the vampire. Chi Attunement: Stamina
Example: Dei Burukusi has Stamina 4 and Yang Chi 3 .
She's a few feet away from a burning inn, within which people
she cares about are trapped. The local Wall rating is 5. She gets The vampire concentrates Yin energy within himself
five successes. The blaze has a soak rating of 8, thanks co all and rakes on a metallic sheen. Skin becomes much more
the extremely flammable components ofthe building. Dei's five resistant to damage without giving up flexibility.
successes reduce it to a soak rating of3, equivalent to a candle. System: Spend one or more points of Yin Chi. The
MoStof the fire's gone out, leavingjlamesstillactiveonly in the difficulty of all social tasks rises by one. Each point of Yin
most combustible parts of the building. A great got4t of flame Chi spent gives the vampire two extra Bruised health
courses into the Yang Warld., perhaps attracting the attention levels. The effect lasts for one scene. H alf of whatever
of a fire spirit. damage remains in the extra levels at the end of the scene
For che vampire to extract impressions ouc of a fire, remains; careful vampires arcend to healing while snll in
she must concentrate for a turn. The player spends a Bright Metal Self.
poinc ofcither Yang Chi (for a fire still burning) or Yin
Chi (for ashes} and rolls Perception+ (appropriate Chi MITALW'~
Virrue) against a difficulry of the local Wall rating. The vampire replaces portions of his body with metal
Each success shows the vampire a mo mentary glimpse constructs. le takes a full night without major discracuons
of rhe area as it was at some po int when the fire was to make the replacements, and it is exquisitely painful.
burning. The first impression is almost always the System: N o roll or Chi expenditure is necessary to
moment when the fire started; the second, the moment install a modification, although the vampire must have
of its extinguishing. A vampire who hopes to ee some access co properly forged metal pieces. Every modifica-
parcicular period of time faces a more difficulr chal- tion requires Yin Chi co function. When the vampire
lenge. Raise the difficu lty by 1 for a broad period of rime wakes at dusk (regardless of whether he is black or scarlet
like a particular night and by 2 or even more for a cycled), the player must spend one Yin Chi for each
specific ho ur or minute. modification. lf the vampire lacks enough Chi to acti-
vate his modifications, those unpowered rap into the
vampire's own being, doing a level of lethal damage
~ FO~: Ylus U.... ~
each. Once modifications have been activated (with
@
---------------
transformclothesandlightpersonalpossessionsas well).
Chi or health levels), they are considered part of the The vampire becomes literally a wire figure of a human
vampire's body for the rest of the night; other Disciplines being, capable of moving at her normal speed and of
and techniques that transform or transport the vampire passing through any opening that can accommodate the
will carry the modifications at no extra cost. width of a wire. The wire is a concentrated manifesta,
The vampire can force a modification into quies, ion of Yin Chi, very dark and hard to notice: It takes
cence for a niglu. The vampire concentrates for a tum and success at a Perception +Alertness roll, difficulty 6, to
the player rolls Stamina + Yin. If the roll succeeds, the notice the Dark Metal Self in broad daylight. The
vampire loses the use of a modification as it melts out of difficulty rises to 7 for bright indoor light and to 8 or even
sight beneath his skin. The suppression inflicts two Levels 9 for darker conditions. Make a Dexterity + Subterfuge
of bashing damage if there's only one success, one level of roll for the vampire to move in ways that take advantage
damage on two successes and no damage on three or more of available cover and shadow; each success on this roll
successes. By spending a point of Willpower, the player adds one to the number of successes would,be spotters
can automatically force a modification into quiescence must achieve.
without any damage. The vampire can summon up a The vampire can use herself as a whip, doing normal
suppressed modification at any time, although doing so damage. A player whose character wishes co strike at an
requires an action (but no roll). affected vampire must make the above spotting roll, with
Unless circumstances warrant otherwise, the player a 2 difficulty bonus if his chatacter is the target of one of
suffers a + l difficulty penalty on all social rolls if any the affected vampire's attacks. Once spotted, the vampire
modifications are visible. Removing a modification takes using Dark Metal Self still gets + 2 to her Dodge rating.
two undisturbed nights of effort and inflicts two levels of Outside combat, she can extend herselfout for three yards
aggravared damage in the process. per point of her Yin Virtue.
Common modifications include: The vampire can also merge herself with any metal
Talons: The vampire's fingers end in razoMharp objectlargerchanhernormalform.Sheresumesher usual
iron blades, several inches long. They do Strength + 2 appearance, but moves within the metal and has its
<lice aggravated damage. AIL fine manipulation tasks are resistance to damage. (Meneal and spiritual attacks work
at +2 difficulty, but climbing is at- 2 difficulty ifthe talons normally) lt takes a tum to merge with or emerge from a
can dig into the surface being climbed (useful for rock piece ofmetal,duringwhichtimeallcombaMelatedtasks
faces, not for ropes). are at +2 difficulty.
Blade: The vampire turns one forearm and hand The Park Metal Self lasts for one scene.
into a two-foot-long sword. It does Strength +3 dice
aggravated damage and can parry melee attacks. The
vampire can't use it foe anything else, however (unless it The vampire transfonns some of his own self into
is suppressed). small, needle-like shards of Yinin~ed metal. They at
tack everything in the area, chilling the air as they pass.
Armor: The vampire replaces his skin with thin
metal sh eets. The armor adds one soak die per point of System: Spend 2 points of Yin Chi. The vampire
the vampire's permanent Yin Chi for lethal and bashing exhales and creates "3. cloud of metal rain filling a sphere
damage; it does nothing against fire or sunlight, but 10 feet across. Everyone and everything in the cloud,
provides one soak per two points of permanent Yin Chi other than its creator, takes six dice of aggravated dam-
(rounded up) against aggravated damage from super, age. The cloud then dissipates. The vatnpire may exhale
natural attacks. very shallowly and make a Dexterity + Athletics roll,
difficulty 6. lf it succeeds, the vampire catches the
Stance: The vampire manipulates his skeleron into
needles on his skin. They do one level of bashing damage
a new form. He can gain or lose six inches of height and
to him but lie quiescent until he chooses to flex his
adjust bones close to the skin so as to change his appearance
muscles. Then they erupt as if he'd just exhaled them. If
(though not finely enough to imitate someone else). The
they're stiU present when he goes co sleep, they dissipate
new form is permanent; to adopt a new appearance, the
without furthe,r effect.
vampire must remove the existing Stance .modification and
then add a new one. If the Stance is intended to provide The vampire can also make a more targeted attack. It
cxcra stability, any knockdown attack against the vampire takes a single point of Yin Chi to spit a nearly invisible
suffers a +2 difficulty penalty. dart with the same range and damage as a thrown knife.

D~i:_ Mn:u.. Sur


The vampire joins her spirit with the darkest aspects
The vampire channels Yin Chi so as to make herself
collapse into a wire-like, nearly invisible form. of the Yin World, transforming her body into a solid
sculpture of itself, made out ofdark substances alien co the
System: Spend a point of Yin Chi (to transform only
mortal world. Her body rums a dull gray, shot through
the vampire's owu body) or two points of Yin Chi (to
with black trystals that moan softly when touched. Her
92 ~~~--_..-...

eyes become empty holes into the Yin World. Derange-


...
........................________ __ ~

System: Spend a point of either type of Chi to


ments and other psychological disturbances become mani- activate any of the benefits of this technique. Both dis-
fest as distortions to her form. tending and compacting make it easier for the vampire to
System: Spend 5 point.s ofYin Chi. It takes five turns absorb damage; make soak rolls at difficulty 5.
to make the tcansformation, which lasts for one scene. The vampire can attempt to flow through any space
The vampire's Appearance drops to zero. She gains more than six inches wide; make a Dexterity+ Athletics
two points of Strength and Stamina and adds her Yin roll, difficulty 6 for a space 10 inches wide, plus 1 for each
Virtue to soak bashing and lethal damage. She can de- inch narrower. (The Storyteller may adjust the difficulty
velop any of the features of Metal Within if the player for time spent preparing, constraints or openings in other
succeeds in a Willpower roll, difficulty 7, and can banish dimensions and other factors as appropriate.)
them at will. To disguise himself, the vampire must spend atleast 10
While using Yin Metal Soul, the vampire can attack minutes perdot ofAppearance in his new features. (Raising
Yin creatures in the Mirror Lands as if they were present Appearance beyond his native condition is difficult and
physically (and they can strike at her as if she were in the adds an hour per dot.) It requires a resisted roll of an
Yin World). Shecancutoff pansofherselftooffergifts of observees Perception + Empathy against the vampire's
Chi, giving up a point ofYin Chi but suffering no physical Stamina + Subterfuge for anyone else to recognize the
damage and allowing the receiving spirit to gain a point vampire. If the vampire's new Appearance is higher than
of Yin Chi. his usual form, make the Stamina + Subterfuge roll at
The vampire can stare at a target, drawing attention difficulty 8. The disguise lasts an entire scene.
to the windows into the Yin World that are her eyes. Make
a contested roll of the vampire's Willpower against the
Willpower of the target. If the vampire wins, the targe t The vampire can reach out through force of will to
must make a wave soul check; the difficulty is 6 for most alter the flow of flesh and fluids in others. It's hard to
creatures, 7 foe those in temporary Yang imbalance and 8 perform fine manipulation of the sort she can easily work
for those in permanent Yang imbalance. The vampire can with Command of Flow in Self.
make a Dexterity + Performance or Manipulation + System: The vampire must touch her target, spend
Expression check to catch targets' attention; each success a point of either type of Chi and roll Perception +
on that roll (difficulty 7) adds a die to the ensuing Medicine, difficulty 7. The effects depend on the
Willpower roll. vampire's point of contact and intent.
The Yin metal the vampire becomes is extremely The vampire can help the target's own body channel
toxic to living creatures. In addition to any normal Chi effectively so as to boost healing. Each success on the
hand-to-hand damage (including Metal Within bo- Command of Flow in Others roll halves normal healing
nuses), the vampire does one level of aggravated damage times. If the target is in the process of fighting some
for merely touching a living being, a materialized Yang extended disease or other intruder in the body, add 1 to
spirit or a permanently Yang-unbalanced Wan Kuei. If the target's effective Stamina for each success on the
the vampire grapples or holds such a target, she inflicts Command roll for the duration ofthe particular infection,
this level of aggravated damage each tum, in addition to poison or other problem. The vampire need not continue
any other damage. to touch the target throughout the healing process; she
simply ''jumpstarts" the it.
T"HE c;oDBODY oF-WAn" Conversely, Command of Flow in Others may be used
{BLOOD SllJ'(TAJ J to inflict harm on a target. A touch to the body lets the
vampire introduce turbulence into the target's circula-
The Godbody of Water brings the vampire into tion. The victim feels racking nausea, pain and disorien-
harmony with the principle of water: ubiquity, change, tation; the suffering lasts for one tum per success on the
quiet. Students of this Discipline learn to draw on Chi to Command roll, minus one tum per success the victim's
transform themselves in ways that break down the bar- player gets on a Stamina roll, difficulty 7. A touch to a
rier between self and world and make themselves ame- limb paralyzes that limb. A touch to the torso or chest
nable to change. throws the victim's heart into erratic spasms and adds + 2
Chi Attunement: Strength to the difficulty of all physical tasks for the rest of the
scene. The victim can spend a point of Willpower to
negate the penalty for one tum.
The vampire manipulates all the liquid parts of his If the mortal botches the Stamina roll for a torso
form. While he can't actually make solid features Like touch, make a second Stamina roll. A second botch
bone flow, he can adjust blood and the other fluids inside indicates a fatal heart attack. A mortal who botches the
his skin. He can flatten out parts of his body by withdraw- Stamina roll against a limb touch damages it in the force
ing fluid so as to squeeze through small places, and extend of initial spasm, suffering one level of bashing damage.
his reach through fluid expansion in key points.
~'"-1Vlu1~~
=- (!)....................,_..,~w:_...su__.-........_.~....,._'"".:""""- 93
f inally, a touch to the face Jets the vampire adj1,1st her
target's features. The target must be immobilized or coop The vampire draws on the elemental force of water to
erating. Ir takes 20 minutes per dot of Appearance to erode e le ments of her own soul or ofothers', exposing new
make the necessary changes, plus two hours per dot over features. These changes are usually temporary but can be
the target's normal Appearance. Others attempting co made permanent with sacrifice.
recognize the target muse get more s~ccesses on a Percep
System: The vampire concentrates forfour tu ms, and
tion + Empathy r0ll, difficulty 6, than the target's player
then, the player spends two Chi and rolls Manipulation+
gets on a Stamina+ Subterfuge roll, difficulty 7 (difficulty
Meditation, diffic1,1lry 8. For each success, che player can
9 if the Appearance is artificially high). The target's
do one of the following:
player can't accumulate more successes on theSubterfuge
rol I than rhe vampire using Control of Flow in Others got change her character's Hun Nature;
on the original Control roll. change her character's P'o Nature;
change her character's Direction;
T" SEIFoF'W'&na. move one dot within her character's Social At-
Every aspect of the vampire's physical form becomes tributes (raising Manipulation one doc and lowering Cha-
fluid and malleable, though it retains its nonnal appearance. risma one dot, for example);
System: Spend a point of Yang Chi. For the next move one dot within her character's Chi Virtues
three rums, the vampire dodges all attacks with his full (raising Yin and lowering Yang or vice versa); this does
dice pool; he suffers no penalty to dodging no matter what not affect current remporary Chi levels and can cause or
else he does. The vampire can choose co concentrate on change imbalances, both temporary and permanent.
defense, giving up the option of attacking. In this case, These changes remain in place until the vampire goes
make Dodge rolls at difficulty 5 rather than 6. to sleep. A change can be made permanent by spending
The vampire can alter his dimensions {though not three points of pennanem Willpower per change.
his total weight) to flow through constrictions; this The vampire can attempt to induce changes in will-
requires a Strength + Yang roll, difficulry 7. Doing so ing targets. She roust be touching the target to <lo so. The
takes one tum. system works as above, except that the difficulty is 10.
ln addition, the vampire can merge with any body of Pennanent changes are impossible in others.
liquid large enough co hold him. He becomes a vampire- Lifesight reveals changes to Attributes, Hun Nature
sized portion of that liquid, sharing its substance, while and Yang Chi; Ghostsight reveals changes to Direction,
retaining his physical dimensions and appearance. lt P'o Nature and Yin Chi. Observers can see rhat part of the
takes a turn to merge with or disengage from the liquid; target's soul has been changed but not what the previous
any combat actions he rakes during the process are at + 2 condition was.
difficulty. While in the liquid, he takes no damage from
physical attacks until the surrounding liquid is boiled CfoDBoD~ or:;-WooD
Tu
away or otherwise removed. Mental and spiritual attacks
function normally at all times. fFilstt SttJt(TAJ'
The Godbody ofWood teaches the vampire to culti-
vate himself as a sore of garden and to merge his will with
The vampire commands the Chi in her own blood or the living things of the world around him.
some nearby liquid to tum into a whip-like weapon. C hi Attunement: Dexterity
Lashes powered by Yang Chi pulse with red fury, while
lashes powered by Yin Chi shine with icy black hunger. ..__.....,..;
THE- 5HF
System: Spend a point ofeither Yin or Yang Chi. The The vampire begins to cultivate the garden of self,
vampire can sli c her own wrists to extrude a lash of blood treating her body as an object to be adjusted to suir her
or spit to transform blood and saliva into a lash. The vision rather than something defined and immutable.
vampire can also couch any body of liquid of at least a System: Detaching a body part requires a simple rug
quart and command it to form a lash. In any event, the to remove it. The discarded part lies inert bur undamaged
lash extends four feet per doc of permanent racing in the for vp to one hour per point of the vampire's Willpower,
type of Chi the vampire spent to create the lash. Roll then dies; the vampire can reattach it at any point but
hand-co-hand combat as usual; the lash can perform any muse heal back three levels of lethal damage as she
combat maneuver its creator knows. ItstrikesforStrengch reattaches che dead limb. She can also choose to lee it Lie
+ 2 dice of aggravated damage; it can !ilso inflict Strength and regenerate 1t later; thlS rakes I0 nights (20 if she is Yin
dice of bashing damage and then ensnare the victim. For unbalanced), m~inus 1 night per point of permanent Yang.
the target to escape, the victim's player must accumulate (Note that the vampire cannot discard her head with chis
three or more successes in a resisted roll ofStrength versus technique nor try to grow a new one after decapitation.
the lash creator's perm.anent rating in the type ofChi used She can remove her heart and become immune to staking,
to form the lash (both rolls at d ifficu lty 6). but cannot regain Chi from flesh or blood until it is
'~~~~-----
replaced.} The vampire.........
may ------------------~
also choose to incorporate System: Spend a point of Yang Chi and make a
livingor<lead plane matter into her body. Any such grafts Charisma + Yang Chi roll. If successful, the vampire can
do no harm but retain their u ual properties all far as inflict one level of lethal damage per success co a single
dealing with lhe rest of the world. Living mater.ial stays target within her line ofsight (this damage can be soaked
alive as long as she pays an extra point of Yang Chi each normally). Targets killed in this way crumble to dust in
night upon awakening. A Wan Kuei with obvious grafts seconds. The withdrawn vital energy flows into surround-
is usually quite inhuman in appearance and so cannot ing plant life, which becomes visibly more vibrant and
move among mortals without raising alarm. healthy; any diseases currendy afflicting the plants disap
pear if the target takes three or more levels of damage.
If the vampire chooses to make energy flow into the
target, each success heals Z bashing or l lethal level of
damage. le requires one point of Yang Chi per success,
either offered up voluntarily by the vampire or extracted
from nearby planes. Plants thus affected wither and gen
erally die or develop peculiar diseases. The vampire can
use this power on herself.


The vampire can inspire life in inanimate objects.
These objects must made of wood, sap or other materials
harvested from Ii ving planes, and they must be made for the
express purpose of receiving spiritual essence. These ob-
jects are generally either crafted by a Wan Kuei for explicit
use with this technique or crafted by mortal artisans or
monks as religious objects meanc to embody a natural or
,....~ 1HI: Ser universal spirit:. Some ancestors ban the use ofSpark ofLife
The vampire can rearrange his body at will. on such objects, believing that they are reserved for Yang
System: Spend a point of Yang Chi. The vampire can (and even Celestial) spirits and to hijack them is to invite
then rearrange his head, torso and limbs into any configu- retribution. Most Wan Kuei, swollen with pride, scoff at
ration he wants. All parts work normally or as normally as these bans.
they can under the new circumstances. The change lasts Sys tem: First, the vampire or someone else must
until the vampire goes co sleep; his body returns to its create a work of art to be animated. The creator must
normal arrangement as he sleeps. achieve three or more successes on a Dexterity + Crafts
roll, or flaws make it impossible for the object to receive
TH1 Y/o9'1D ~UC its spirit.
The vampire can merge his substance with chat of all Each point ofYang Chi the vampire spends gives the
living plants and move through them freely. object two Health levels and four dots the vampire may
System: le takes a cum ofconcentration to merge with allocate among all attributes. The animated object begins
or emerge from plant life; during thi transition, all combat with the vampire's own Hun and P'o Natures, Willpower
tasks are ar +2 difficulty. The vampire enters the plant 1 and 1 in each of the Soul Vircues. The vampire can
realm with roughly his normal proportions and appearance spend a point ofYang Chi to change the Natures or to gain
but seems ~o be (for instance} a design in flowers ortopiary 4 dots co distribute among Hun, P'o, Yin and Yang. The
rather than a figure of flesh and bone. The vampire can object cannot: have any Virtues higher than its creator
move at walking speed through all living plant matter. He and begins with Attributes reflecting its nature (a large
can change his proportions with a Oexrerity + Yang roll; he wooden statue might have high Strength and Stamina, for
snaps back to his normal proportions after one cum per example, while a small figurine could have, at most, one
success. (Thus the vampire could follow vines and moss dot ofeach) but no specific Abilities. The resulting object
into a building, bur not pass through cut logs and the like.) isn'r just animated but self-aware, possessed of its own
While inhabiting particularplants, the vampire can trigger -soul. lt: obeys the orders the vampire gives, even ones that
them ro grow ar twice or half their nonnal rate; this effect endanger itself; over time, it also develops motives of its
remains active for a year after his passage. own, which it seeks to act upon when not ordered other-

wise. It can learn Abilities like any other sentient being.


Every time the newly animated sou l botches a
The vampire can leech vitality our of a target,
Sou l Virtue roll, its P'o gains a point of strength. Over
passmg it into the world at: large; the vampire can also time, such things inevitably become corrupt, even
make vitality flow in, at the cost of damage to herself or with regular purging.
the world.
, The animated object retains most of its origi,
nal properties. Objects made of some liquid, for
instance, can retain a solid form for no more than
one minute per point of Willpower per day, while
objects carved from hardwoods have extra levels
of soak. Vitalized objects wake and sleep at the
same time as their creator, no matter how sep3,
rated they become.

~ OF"TI&
FOUR._nt Ac;E-
Rites are a critical part of Wan Kuei exist,
ence. Many rites draw on the powers of Heaven
and the Ten Thousand Things, allowing the
Hungry Dead to tap into mighty energies. Other
rices are not "magical" as the West would under,
stand it but, instead, mark important moments
and events. Nevertheless, the spirit world takes
notice of these events, and news spreads through
the gossips of the spirit courts, meaning that
those who celebrate an event or pronounce a
suspect akuma can expect that their elders will
soon learn the news. The Wan Kuei treat both
these sorts of rites as the same field of inquiry -
it is as proper and important to commemorate
adding a new member to a wu as it is to ask
heaven to strike down one's enemies.
Access to rites is tightly controlled. Nor every,
one should know how to write petitions to the
compass points. Vampires who wish access to ritu,
als must either find a court official or a private
citizen to teach them (see "Favors and Prestation",
p. 117), or else become an apprentice ritualise.
Storytellers should keep in mind that the player's
characters are not the only people out there crying
to learn these secrets. Masters of Wan Kuei rirual
magic have been be.sieged for centuries by legions of
hQJ>eful apprentices ranging in age from Running
Monkeys to mandarins, not to mention thecarspaws
of jealous civals and wou1d~be akurna seeking to
sack their libraries for forbidden lore. They have
seen and heard it all, and their apprenticeships are
grueling, arduous and designed co weed out all
those not genuinely interested in doing the job. In
short, learning rites, particularly powerful ones, is
usually a difficult and expensive proposttion.
Also, rites are difficult - as difficult as
becoming a doctor or master of che classics.
Unless the instruction is to be entirely oral (a
highly unlikely proposition), the pupil must know
kaja script so he can read the proper texts. In
addition, many rites presuppose an extensive
knowledge of astrology, cosmology, philosophy
and alchemy. Storytellers should feel free to limit
characters with low or nonexistenr Academics,
,, - @performs this 30-minute rite over them. At the end, the
Science an<l Occult skills from learning Rituals past one
or two dots. player makes an Intelligence+ Occult roll, difficulty 7. Each
Access to rites may also depend on Dharma. The success indicates on blood point preserved. Preserved blood
various Road~ Back have rituals developed by members of is approximately one pint in volume per point and must be
the faith for use in furtbermg the Dhacma's goals. Most are store<l ma sealed. airtight concainer or it will spoil within a
of lim itc<l interest to anyone not pursuing the Dharma. few days. The "flavor" ofthe blood, Yin or Yang, is set by the
Others, particularly the mote powerful ones, are secrets of herbs and incantations ar the time of preservation and
rhe fairh. Leaming them is problematic, and demonscrat- cannot be changed thereafter. There isasecond level variant
ing the ability co use them around the wrong eyes b of this rite for storing Yang healing potions tbe vampire
exceedingly ill-advised. Some panicularly powerful riru creates for use by mortals, which omits the aconite, cinnabar
als are said to be guarded by spirits and ministers of and ocher poisonous materials.
Heaven who prevent rheir misuse, while others are said
not to work for vampires 11ot of the proper Dharma or to BPtDJtec; c;ooDs f1Ev11.. 4rW'o ~l
misfire with fatal consequences. If this is the case and noc Wan Kuei are protean creatures, prone to changing
just rumors circulated to protect these rites, no one has set their forms, sprouting spikes and growing to several times
down a commonly availahle record of ic happening. their normal size. Obviously, this can be make the matter
of maincaining a dignified appearance difficult, to say
Tiff Cosr or l1"t01(c; nothing of the problems of holding onto valuable equip
ment during these many changes. Binding Goods is a
Aside from the cost of the prestation and hono- '
magical rite by which the vampire ''attaches" clothing
rarium, rites have some ocher coses associated with
and harnesses to herself, so that they accompany her
them. le takes about a week of careful study per level
t:hrough any changes she makes. While clothing and belts
co learn the rite well enough to practice it (possibly
and so forth may change size, the items attached to them
several weeks 1f the character is receiving oral train
do not. A jina's treasured belt#knife may not fall off when
ing). Storyte lie rs may also choose co require a player to
his clothing tears apart as he grow into his Godbody of the
pay one or two ex:pencnce poincs per level of the nee
Demon, but neither will it grow to the size of a longsword
ro learn it, if they feel that the in-game costs are not
to march his newly gigamic hands.
enough of a limitauon.
System: The vampire must perform a night-long rite
over the items to be bound to her person, at the end ofwhich
c;IN8'AL ~ they are ham1onized with her spiritual energies. They w1U
Skilled ritualises across the Dhannas and courts prac- change to fit her, no matter whatshape she assumes, and will
tice che follow ing riles. They are less well~guarded than disappear completely if she assumes an animal shape or a
Dharmic rites, bur srill require a great deal of study. All of shape which otherwise cannot utilize them. Also, if the
the rites described on pages 127-131 of Kindred of the vampire pierces or shre<ls them while assuming a new form,
East are also in use <luring the Fourth Age. the clothes will be whole again when the vampire returns to
her normal human shape.
f
BLOOD .P1t.U11t.VA1'JOIC 1.Pm. OICI ~ A vampire can only have as many items bound to her
The Chi re mains in blood or flesh only until the
as she has points of Hun, and this "capacity" cannot be
process of decomposition begins. In warm climates, this reclaimed without the destruction of one or more bound
usually means that rhc viral forces flee by the end of the
items. A popular way to humiliate one's rivals or enemies
night. For Wan Kuei, who are much more reliant on
is to teal their bound goods and secret them somewhere
coercive feeding than Cainites, chis can be a serious remote or dangerous.
liability. This simple rirual was devised in the early days
of the Fourth Age, when young vampires began to need Sto~c; TM DINoN's ..... ,y
an unclean diet of fresh blood. Since then, an art
equi valenr co distill mg has developed, creating bloods of
fhVB. T'lfft.H lt.fn}
The P'o is the curse of the Wan Kuei. Though rhey
fine flavor and with intoxicating qualities. This blood
have learned to draw strength from it, it is unfortunately
d1stillanon 1s frowned upon by mosc elders (at least in
quite lazy. Those vampires dependent on the Demon Arts
public - many are said to partake in private), but it has
arc at the mercy of the P'o, as its erratic rhythms dictate
nevertheless developed into quite a sophisticated pro-
when they may use chese Disciplines. This rite was devel
cess. Blood Distilling ts available as a Crafts Skill, and
oped as a way co speed the Demon's often agonizingly slow
there are more powerful and specialized versions of this
return to power. While far from perfect, it is better than
rite up co and beyond level 5. However, these differ
waiting day after day for the P'o's power to grow.
primarily in palatability - blood created with this
simple rite seems very flat and slightly "off." System: The vampire meditates for three hours, prod-
ding the demon and focusing the Hun's own righteous
System: The rituahst mixes the blood and the necessary
anger. At the eml, the player makes a Stamina+ Medi ta
ingredients (primanlyan extraccofginsengand aconite) and
tion roll, difficulty 9. lf lt is successful, the vampire may
(!)....................._...,_.,.,...______ ~~~~

convert any number of points of temporary Willpower This rite is rarer than it might seem- given tts benefits
into Demon Chi, so long as the amount converted is not - because getting 12 mandarins to agree to support a
greater than his Meditation rating and does not make his single ancestor is a difficult cask indeed. Also, rhc rite is
Demon Chi exceed his P'o rating. The P'o then receives very dangerous, not necessary to the Road Back and not
an immediate roll for shadow soul. lf more temporary entirely a matter of skill and knowledge - the recipient
Willpower is converted than the vampire has Hun, the is co some degree subjected co Heaven's scrutiny, and woe
difficuh:y oftheP'o's shadow soul roll is reducedby one per wito those who conspire to receive the August Personage's
additional point. mandate of authority under false pretenses.

Cit,o~c; TM AtlCHTaR_ DR')LTic;ot_ ~


(hm SWlt "'11-l
Among the Wan Kuei, "ancestor'' describes not just Da,UM OF"" THI- SUFFOCAIJllc; eu--
a political position, but a spiritual state. The leader of a f1.ML 'rW'o "'11-l
court is not simply an appointed official; rather, he 1s The Devil-Tigers often utilize supernatural methods
actually elevated by the efforts of the mandarins who put to punish sinners in subtle fashions. Moral lessons are
him in office. This-rite is composed of a grueling series of better driven home through the influence of seemingly
tests, where the prospective ancestor demonstrates not impersonal forces than through demons rending the flesh
only his knowledge and wisdom bur also his power and his ofsinners, believe the Devils of Heaven. Through the use
domination of the P'o. When ic is completed (if it is of Dream of the Suffocating Cat, the victim is suuck with
completed - by no means all pr05pecti ve ancestors make night terrors-dreams ofsuffocation that leave the target
the grade, and the latter stages of the test are quite fatal if sleepless and weary.
failed), the mandarins in question culminate the rite with System: The rirualist must have some pare of the
I.he enthronement of the ancestor, carrying him to his victim-hair, nail clippings, blood and tears are common
throne in a palanquin home on their own shoulders. This choices. By making a facsimile of the target and perform-
nte requires the pamcipation of ar least a dozen manda- ing a 20-minute rite over it, he sends very minor spirits of
rins, meaning that it is only performed in the most wickedness to trouble her dreams. The target mu c make
powerful courts. a Stamina roll (difficulty 4) or suffer the effects of the
System: The actual tests vary from version to version. Nightmares Flaw and having failed his Willpower roll.
Various courts and Dharmas have their own unique tests, For every two nights the rite is repeated, the difficulty of
emphasizing various different abilities and strengths. When the Stamina roll goes up by 1, to a maximum of 8. 1f the
several mandarins meet to select an ancestor, they gener- target sleeps on holy ground, is blessed by a priest or
ally mix and march the various pieces of the rites they otherwise takes shelter in an area free of negative influ-
know to in order co get one appropriate for the situation ences (inside an area warded by the Hannonious Shield-
the new ancestor will inhabit. Aside from the scholarly ing of the Sacred Haven rite, for example), she is safe from
component, the tests invariably involve some sort of effects of the rite for chat night, but the difficulty of the
combat, as well as at least one situation involving a very Stamina roll does not decrease.
severe soul scare roll ofeach type (shadow, fire and wave).
After surviving chis rite, the ancestor gains several MefoR,fU OF"" TQl\HP(IS U14IX.flER_f~aD
benefits: fLML Fcna. ""1-l
She may store five more points of both Yin and Through the use of this ritual, the DevilTigers in-
Yang Chi in her body than her Dharma level would dulge in one of their favorite pastimes - torment -
noanally allow. without the difficulties involved in actually mutilating
She may spend one more point of Chi per cum than the viccim. By breaking into a residence and setting chis
her Dhanna level would normally allow. rite upon a sleeping victim, they "torture" the target all
Her player's rolls to oppose a negative soul state are night long, yet when the victim awakens, she finds that
decreased in difficulty by 2; however, as a side effect, she nothing has happened. This sort of elaborate dream-
cannot willingly enter fire soul. torcure is a favorite among those who punish sinners,
She may use Demon Chi co power Demon Arcs and though it has seen use for other (generally erotic) purposes
bum raw Demon Chi without making a shadow soul roll. from nme to time.
Black Wind still requiresa P'o roll each round to avoid fire System: The Devil-Tiger must stand beside the
soul, however, but the difficulty is modified, as above, and victim and recite to himself a 15-minute mantra. Ac its
so, is only 6. conclusion, che victim is transported to a dreamscape
These abilities last so long as the vampire continues that the Devi 1-Tiger controls. Nothing that happens to
her there is real, and she cannot be killed, no matter
to exist- the only WanKuei known to have gained rhese
how badly she 1s mutilated. The Devil-Tiger may choose
abilities and subsequently lost them are chose who have
been remade as greater akuma or otherwise transfigured. to appear in the dream as himself, as another person or
,~ @ BlOOD It $JL(,.
not at all, remaining the unseen mastermind of the This missive, essentially a formal petition, is best
unfolding nightmare. accompanied by a large bribe of gem-quality jade. Both
More than one vampire can participate in this rite, are burnt in a fire of incense, charcoal and resin, and the
sharing control ofthe dreamscape. All participating Devil- smoke carries the missive up to Heaven. Before sending it,
Tigers must link hands around the body of the victim and the ritualist must make their chop-mark on the docu-
must know and perform the rite. ment, and this causes him to permanently lose a point of
The vampires need not be visible during the rite, P'o as he attaches a bit of his wickedness to the document
and for the purposes of Chi expenditure to maintain to lend it credence. Other Devil-Tigers may make their
Disciplines, the entire period of the dream is a single chop-marks on the rite to show their support for the
scene. The correspondence between rime in the dream measure (also Losing a point of permanent P'o in the
and time outside it is chosen by the Devil-Tiger - the process), but the marks of vampires below Dharma 6 are
victim can be tortured for days and wake up with but an unlikely to do much in the way of helping the document
instant having passed, or she can have a terrible dream gain celestial attention, and those ofdisciples are actively
of falling and wake up to find she spent the entire night injurious to the memorial's chances. If the ministers of
screaming in terror. If the rite is disturbed, even for a Heaven wanted to hea.r what the Running Monkeys have
moment, the dream ends and the victim almost certainly to say, they'd ask.
starts awake. If the rite is brought to a natural close by The actual effects of th.is rite are entirely up to the
the Devil-Tigers, they can choose if the victim wakes at Storyteller. l fitworks, the effects can be very bad indeed-
that time or not. Repeated use of this rite at its most indeed, powerful almost beyond description. Mountains
intense can drive the victim to suicidal abuse of stimu- can be uprooted, seas can be boiled, plagues and barbarian
lants to avoid sleep or cause a psychotic breakdown. hordes can be loosed upon the land. At other times, the
effect is more subtle, for the ministers would rather con-
serve their budget than spend it frivolously and have to go
begging to the August Personage for more. Regardless, if it
This rite allows a Devil-Tiger mandarin to send a works, the effects are nigh-inescapable, and ifit fails badly,
memorial to Heaven, where it is received by the ministers the retribution is likewise unerring.
who deal with such matters as woe, punishment, pestilence
and pain. This document, essentially a formal petition, is "ESPll..DEt(T~E- ~
signed by the Devil-Tiger who wrote it (and possibly by
others, see below). If them inisters ofHeaven agree with the a~DJl(c; THE ~*'- fllWL Two It.Jn)
recommendations of the memorial, they may cause the The Resplendent Cranes, like the Devil-Tigers, often
request to be fulfilled. Ifthey are disinterested in the matter, take it upon themselves to punish the unrighteous. Through
ordered to do otherwise by their superiors, if the matter is this rite, the Crane marks the forehead of someone she
beyond their purview or if the target has a powerful horo- believes to be unrighteous with a single character. The ink
scope or allies in Heaven or the Yomi Realms, they may be is the Crane's own blood mixed with powdered gold and
forced to simply ignore the memorial. If the request is jade. Some Cranes perform this rite on the wicked as they
presumptuous or awkwardly phrased, the ministers (who lie sleeping, and others use the Yin Prana and apply it to
are touchy at the best of times) may choose to visit them unawares. It is important, however, that the victim
Heaven's wrath on those who presented the memorial, as not know they are marked, or else, they're likely to remove
a lesson that the ministries of punishment and woe ace not the sigil before it bas the desired effect.
to be invoked lightly. This rite is used only in the most System: The rite takes about 10 minutes and is
critical ofcircumstances-when a greaterakuma is abroad performed over the blood, which is enough for one mark-
in the land and cannot be put down by the usual means, ing. The blood must then be used by the next sunrise. The
when a great dragon nest has been destroyed or when a kaja character used is invisible to mortals but is perfectly
terr:ible sinner must be subjected to a punishment beyond visible to shen, holy men and mediums. Regardless of
the capabilities of even the Wan Kuei. whether it is visible or not, it gives the viewer a distinct
Heaven ceases to acknowledge these memorials of sense that the victim is whatever is depicted by the
woe with the ending of the Fourth Age. character (which must be negative). The character can-
System: The author of the memorial, who also must not be detected by the victim and remains clear and
be the practitioner of this rite, must get five successes on unsmudged until washed off with clean water - sweat
an extended Intelligence+ Occult roll (difficulty 9) to get will not do nor will falling rain.
the petition right. Each roll consumes about three to five Common characters are those for jackass, rapist,
working nights. Once he has composed it, he must make thief, murderer and so on. This usually results in a + 1
a Dexterity + Linguistics roll (difficulty 10) ro write it difficulty to all social rolls but can be significantly more if
properly. Such missives are traditionally submitted in the person can actually see the rune or detests whatever
kaja, and so, the ritualist must obviously be able to write the character: represents. Likewise, it could be of no
that language. consequence-someone in a den of brigands who thought
Ctlaml. FOu-.: YI&JS U~ lllAV04
""" @ LU
,,
his drinking partner was a rapist probably would neither blessed Creatures of wickedness cannot stand against
be surprised nor care. the vampire, and the Crane's touch causes them grave
pain. Ir is said that those in this state who can meet the
Jl(Q,UJSITJOI( OF"THI: .PR,YJl(Cf M&cfJ~ Eye of Heaven while retaining their composure ascend
fhvH. T'"~H itln) directly to Heaven. Of course, there is no real evidence
Through the use of this rite, a Resplendent Crane can of this. With the cuming of the Age, this ritual becomes
inquire into the truth of a matter. By restraining a subject more and more difficult, until it finally ceases to func,
(the subject can simply sit still voluntarily) and perform- tion in the 1700s.
ing this one-hour rite over him, the target is rendered System: The Crane must have her internal organs
unable to lie. He can choose not to speak, and he can removed, save for the heart, diaphragm and lungs. Doing
speak on other topics or not actually answer the question, this according to the proper ritual forms requires at least
but while he remains seated or restrained, he cannot lie. 10 cumulative successes on an Intelligence + Medicine
System: The titualist must spend an hour performing check (difficulty 8). One roll is permitted per hour, and
the rite, which involves incense, prayers and the symbolic the process must be completed by sunrise. Obviously, the
(or real) beating of the subject. The victim may be vampire cannot do dtis herself.
tortured, subjected to the Obligation Discipline or other- In place of the absent internal organs, the vampire's
wise persuaded to talk and the rite will still function. body is stuffed with white rice fumigated in the most
However, if he leaves his chair, the effect ends, so re- expensive of incenses and garlic cloves upon which have
straints are advised when the rite i.s used on unwilling been carved prayers to the buddhas and the minisrers of
subjects. If the subject is a Wan Kuei, he may make the Heaven. This process causes the vampire to take three
usual P'o roll (difficulty 9) to escape mind control, and if health levels of unsoakable lethal damage that cannot be
tortured, he may enter fire soul. healed until the vampire's insides are allowed ro return to
their normal configuration. Carving the gar Uc requires 50
.PUR,fFJCAtJOl(S OF" ~a - D c;~LIC successes on a Dexterity+ Crafrs (Carving} roll (difficulry
fhvH.Su~~ 8), though assistants can be employed, provided they are
Through the use of this powerful and closely guarded properly purified during the work.
rite, a Resplendent Crane mandarin may, for a time, The vampire must then stay awake, meditating, all
become truly holy. Though this state is fragile, it is through the daylight hours. This requires three Stamina
100 B LOOD Bl $JI.I:.
+ Meditation rolls: One at difficulty 7, one at difficulty 8 will do almost anything the vampire says out of hopeless,
and one at difficulty 9. If all three rolls succeed, the player helpless love.
must make a test just as if the character had reached an ln Wraith: The Oblivion terms, the ghost gains a
auspicious occasion (see Kindred of the East, pp. 52,53). Passion of Love (the Bone Dancer who kissed her) at a
If the P'o succeeds, the vampire immediately dies the level equal to the number of successes rolled. There is
Little Death from accumulated bodily and spiritual trauma enough oil in one pot of bone oil for one kiss, though some
and experiences a concurrent act of blindness. It is tradi, Shadow Songs carry veritable arsenals of the substance
tional to bum the corpse after such failures. with them.
1f the vampire succeeds in the Dharma roll, she
immediately gains a form of True Faith. The player may llt,UDJICc; THE- llAvls O F' W JSDON'.
roll a number ofdice equal to half the vampire's Dhanna fhm FOo" RJnl
(round up) to repel wicked creatures as if the vampire had Bone Dancers often use fortune telling methods to
the first level of Western True Faith (as described in divine the deeper meanings of a conundrum. By means of
Vampire: The Masquetade, p. 272). The vampire need this shoi:t rite, the Bone Dancer can use bibliomancy
not use a holy symbol to repel unrighteous beings, though (divining by means of books) ro read the future and to find
she must pray, gesture or otherwise indicate her displea, the true meaning of a matter.
sure. The vampire's touch also causes one level of aggra, The vampire performs the 15,minute rite over the
vated damage to any unrighteous being, in addition to any scroll or book to be used for divination, opens or unrolls
normal hand,to,hand damage that might apply. Obvi, it to a random area and, with her eyes closed, puts her
ously, the vampire's Faith does not affect herself. finger down on a character.Traditionally, the book should
This effect lasts until the player fails a soul state roll.be written in kaja, with the Ki Chuan being the text most
While in this state, the vampire cannot perform internal commonly used. Other books are also used, even those
alchemy (as he has no internal organs) and so can only written in mortal tongues, but none of them have gained
feed by breath or osmosis. In fact, imbibing anything at the widespread acceptance of the Commentaries of Ki.
all is impossible, for the vampire has no stomach. Also System: The vampire performs the 15,minute rite
while in this state, the vampire cannot spend or gain and opens the book, placing her finger on one or more
Demon Chi. characters with her eyes closed. These characters
comprise the oracle. The player makes a Wits +
SttAooW' so.. ~ c; Enigmas roll to understand its significance. One sue,
cess indicates the vampire gets a general feeling, three
Bo~1-01i. Cfss (hm T~u lltlnl indicates a good reading, and five indicates an excel,
Through the use of this rite, the Bone Dancer may lent reading, with a clear message and unexpected
cause a ghost to fall in love with him. The effect is quite insights into the situation.
strong, and for the duration of the rite, it is one of the If the Storyteller wishes, he may make up the "actual"
ghost's prime motive forces. The vampire must perform reading and give that to the player along with hints
the several,hour rite over a small pot of so-called "bone depending on the number of successes achieved on the
oil," which is carefully distilled under the full moon from Wits+ Enigmas roll. Don't be cruel, however. The player's
bones, hallucinogenic toadstools and various other cem, character is probably more skilled at interpreting obscure
etery favorites. symbolic messages than the player himself. Note that
He must then apply it to his lips and kiss the ghost. using this rite to master a koan or teaching riddle is
The kiss need not be given willingly- it can be stolen or defeating the purpose- the point ofsuch riddles is not in
forced - but it must be on the lips. The love waxes and finding the answer but in the process offinding the answer.
wanes with the moon, ending on the new moon after the At best, divining the answer will make the riddle empty
kiss. Ghosts are quite wise to this power, which is often of worth. At worst (if, for example, the student is scolded
used by Bone Dancers hungry for companionship or the by his mentor for treating his enlightenment in such a
Yin Chi of the dead. Using it against those with powerful cavalier fashion), it can constitute an act of blindness.
connections to the government of the Yellow Springs is
ill,advised. THE- ~c;HTEOos Hu.- (hm SJx. ~
System: The vampire must make a lr:ttelligence + The Bone Dancers, like the Resplendent Cranes,
Occult roll (difficulty 8) to distill the bone oil. After being safeguard the sanctity ofthe ancestors.Unlike the Cranes,
kissed, the ghost must make a Willpower roll, difficulty 9, however, they do not often act directly against those who
or become deeply infatuated with the vampire. The more belittle or ignore the departed. Instead, they allow the
successes the vampire makes on his Intelligence+ Occult spirits of the Yin World to handle such matters of disre,
roll, the stronger the infatuation. One success means the speer themselves.
ghost yearns for the vampire, three successes means she is This rite marks the target for the attentions of kuei,
hopelessly smitten, and five successes means the ghost unrighteous ghosts and other unclean Yin spirits. The
exact effects vary, but they can include ghastly wasting
~ FOu~: Ylus U......
'W
llt.MI(
(i)-..-............._._._,,,....,.,.,,........,._.__~~~~~
sicknesses, terrible sanity-threatening nightmares or sim- vampire's disguise see her for what she is: a vampire in an
ply a horrible and inexplicable death at the hands of a elaborate costume.
brutal unseen assailant. Bone Dancers do not inflict this Each identity assumed must be unique: The vampire
punishment lightly, reserving it only for those who com- cannot share clothing and props between identities. While
mit what they see as the most serious acts of wrongdoing the vampire has an identity while in costume (meaning if
-defiling a graveyard or ancestral shrine, the burning of she goes about in her garb night after night, people will
libraries and the persecution of legitimate scholars and recognize her as the same person every night) this rite
seekers of knowledge. cannot be used to imitate a specific, actual person who
System: The ritualise must actually mark the victim already exists.
or her household with a mixture of bone oil (see Bone- Wl W
Oil Kiss, above), grave earth and the ashes of a carefully JSDOM' OF"TIE SP,mur AYS
written denunciation of the victim's crimes. This rite {l.EvB. FJ\4 ~}
takes about 30 minutes and must be performed in the In the course of wearing their many lives, the Thou-
victim's presence or in her household. Luckily, the rite sand Whispers must be able ro assume any role. While
is slow and subtle enough that it can be performed under shape can be easily changed, knowledge and memory are
the shelter of the Shrouded Moon (Yin Prana ). much more difficult to obtain. To gain the knowledge
The actual effects vary depending on the type of needed to don their next mask, elder Thousand Whispers
spectres and kuei that are attracted to the victim, but take time between lives to travel in the spirit courts of the
being the target ofseveral wicked ghosts is never pleasant. Yang Realms. There, the vampires learn essential skills at
Prayer and magic can bar the ghosts from the area, but this th e knees of the spirics. Not only does this allow them to
only angers them. The mark lingers, even in death, and if gain new understanding and skills critical to their next
the victim dies and passes into the Yellow Springs, her "incarnation," it is also a source of wisdom and self-under-
existence will be forever troubled by the depredations of standing, of internalizing the lessons of the existence they
unrighteous Yin spirits. The only way to remove the mark so recently abandoned. Ir is from the denizens of the Yang
of the Righteous Hunt is to atone for the wrongdoing, Realms that most elder Thousand Whispers learn t:b.e
which any medium or exorcist will be able to divine the unanswerable and! paradoxical riddles they use as medita-
general nature of (if only from the blood-curdling insults tion tools.
hurled by the evil ghosts circling the victim). Otherwise, System: This rite is particularly elaborate, taking
the subject will be the target of supernatural evil for the several days. The vampire undertakes ritual funeral prepa-
balance of her (probably greatly abbreviated) life. rations and then "dies," taking the Little Death in a
4F."HOcauD .~.lll&SPfD Dft"EC ritualistic fashion which prevents it from constituting an
I ~ .W L.,. 9' ~ ..,. act of blindness. Her body serves as an anchor to attach
her to the Middle Kingdom, and if it is desrroyed, she is
~ OFTM '~ ~
T'"HE lost forever - thus, the Thousand Whisper tradition of
{I.ML r~ff ~) guarding the body while the spirit travels.
The Thousand Whispers are master shapeshifters. Unlike the normal Little Death, this is not a traumatic
This ritual represents their most basic form ofshapesh ifting nightmare but a dreamlike time oflearning and meditation.
- the ability n ot to change your shape but to deceive In this state, the vampire absorbs the experiences of their
others into believing that you have done so. The vampire last life and receives spiritual instruction from the inhabit-
performs an elaborate ritual, dressing in a set of garments ants of the spirit courts. Whatever effects this has are up to
and a mask which represents a caricature of the identity the Storyteller to decide - in general, it aids the vampire
the vampire wishes to assume. Until the mask is removed, in letting go of the now-vanished existence and embracing
non-shen who see the vampire will mistake her for the their new Life. The more concrete effects are that the
identity she has assumed. Awakened beings are not so vampire can spend accumulated experience points to buy
easily fooled - they may make a Perception + Alertness or increase Abilities, Virtues and Attributes at the regular
check (difficulty 6) to penetrate the disguise, and shen cost without resorting to tutelage. The Wise Centipede
using any form of preternatural senses automatically see may not purchase Disciplines in this fashion.
through the mask. The length of the vampire's journey in the spirit
System: The rite to assume the identity takes almost realms is as usual for the Little Death - one night per
an hour and includes a large number of psychological point of permanent Yin rating.
exercises calculated to allow the Wise Centipede to adopt
the role more fully. While in her disguise, the vampire -..HDS ,.. T'"HE CYCU OF" SEASOl(S
does not appear dead (though she may appear ill ifYin- fhWi.SEvtt( ~)
aspected), butshe is still cold to the touch and cannot eat, Just as the reed bed is sometimes burned down to the
have sex or otherwise perform mortal activities if she is roots in time of drought, so the Wise Centipede knows
normally unable to do so. Those beings who penetrate the that she too must occasionally pass from the scene. By
102 .8LOOD It S;u:._
Ff @
mea~s of th1~ rite, the Thousand Whisper stages her own fi
demise. Whtie not the Final Death, it is very close. The ""'4SHJ"-;
vampire's body is reduced to dust, and she spends decades S-.s,,_c; TH E-~nt*s SJCQ(ESS
or centuries blowing on the winds ofthe spirit worlds until
she finally returns to substance in a place where the
{I.Em Two "1n)
Tapestry is thin. This rite allows the lbrashing Dragon to find the source
of a po~er.tainting the natural forces in an area. By entering
This rite takes several months to prepare, as the Wise
a medttattve state and wandering about, the Thrashing
Centipede makes herself ready for her death by whatever
Dragon attunes herselfto the natural forces. She may stumble
means she chooses, at the appointed time and in the
upon the source of the sickness during a moonlit walk, may
appointed place. Because it is so essential that the time
be given hints of it in prophetic dreams or may find herself
and place and method of demise be known, this rite is
driven to attempt to describe it via calligraphy or painting.
usu~lly a form of ritual su icicle. This is most often a simple
It depends somewhat on the vampire, somewhat on the
Facing the Eye of Heaven, but it can also be extremely
circumstances and somewhat on blind chance.
elab?~ate and involve quite a large cast of unwitting
participants. There are also stories ofDragon Tear or T zu System: The vampire meditates and allows herself to
Wei masters using this rite to cleverly sidestep demises become an open conduit to the natural forces, and the
they foresaw but could not avert. player makes a roll equal to the vampire's Dharma (diffi-
culty 8). If the vampire does her meditation under the
System: The vampire must spend several months
influence of No Mind {Internalize ),then decrease the
preparing for the big event, though she need not work full-
difficulty to 6. One success allows her to tell if there is a
time. However, she must put a fair amount of preparation
problem. Three successes allows her to get a general feel
in, and Storytellers should feel free to invent urgent horo-
for the situation, and five or more leads her to the problem
scopes or rituals to disrupt the day-to-day activities of a
in a fairly dear fashion.
vampire preparing to sidestep a few centuries of existence.
It requires extensive prayers at various times and locations The taint to be sensed must be both powerful and
and cannot be undertaken while in bondage or under house poorly hidden, because the rite itself is weak. Lesser evils
arrest, at least not without the consent of the vampire's (like those spread by a single bakemono or wicked person)
capco~s. lf it is being used to fake the vampire's death, even
or carefully concealed evils (such as those hatched by the
the slightest mishap in the timing or method of death may Yama Kings and their greater akuma servants) are much
result in the vampire's actual destruction. harder to ferret out. The only thing the Dragon is likely to
learn about such matters is that they ate somehow beyond
A character must have a Rituals and Occult score of at
the scope of this rite. The sickness must also be unnatural.
lea~t 4 each to perform this rite. If nothing has gone awry
Regardless of what Confucians maintain, some disasters
durmg the preparations (which the Storyteller should
simply happen. This rite does nothing to detect the source
probably make an elaborate subplot), the character makes
ofdroughts and insect swarms and the like that are simply
an Intelligence + Rituals roll (difficulty 7) at the moment
part of the natural cycle.
of her physical demise. Success means that the rite has
worked. Failure means that she has met the Final Death.
The length of time the vampire remain outside the Wheel
~ w,.. loCAL BYSTS
is entirely up to the Storyteller; there is no way the vampire
{~WL. FOu" "1n)
can predict the length of her false death, which can be as . This rite is in some ways similar to Sensing the Earth's
short as a few decades or as long as a few centuries. Sickness but has much greatergeneral applicability. Through
the means of this rite, the Thrashing Dragon makes a
When "dead," the Wise Centipede is effectively im-
formal request for an audience with any important mem-
possible to contact. Her body rots away to dust or burns to
bers of the local animal kingdom. The rite must be per-
ash. Her spirit cannot be reached or compelled with necro-
formed under the new moon, and the meeting takes place
mancy, she is unaware of what happens around her and she
ac the full moon immediately thereafter, in the place where
gains no experience. To the outside world, it as ifshe had
the rite was performed.
met the Final Death. To the vampire, it as if she had Laid
ln the city, the rite will call forth the princes and
down for a deep, dreamless sleep.
princesses of the rats, dignitaries and ambassadors of the
The vampire will swirl together from dust, fallen
pigeons, the ranking magistrate of cats and the feudal
leaves, thin air and the like on some auspicious night in
barons of the local dog population. In wilderness areas,
the far futu re. On reforming, the vampire is naked and
one can expect any sort of creature - the count of the
physically perfect, replenished in Chi and Willpower.
local boars, the priests of the fallow-deer monastery or
She has left behind past lives and entered a hew one. This
even the bandit-kings of the wolves and the rajahs of the
is among the most auspicious occasions a Wise Centipede
tigers. Also, if there is a Xiong Ren holy place nearby, its
can experience, and the player makes an immediate
keeper will sense the call and know it's origin, so the
Dhanna roll unopposed by the P'o.
request for audience is likely to draw some of the local
skin-changers, if there are any about.
Cumit FOuit: Vl&Js Ul(DO. lh&Vttc @ 103
The circumstances under which a vampire might per- If Xiong Ren appear, they are unlikely to be particu-
fonn this rite vary. Some elder Thrashing Dragons hold a larly happy that their job as warden of the local area is
regular court every season or year to make sure that matters being usurped, and they may have a negative impact on
in their demesne are running smoothly. More often, this attendance if they choose to come in their war forms.
rite is used during times ofneed in order to gain information HoweV'er, an adept host who has strong social graces may
or animal allies. well be able to tum the evening into a success neverthe-
System: The Thrashi.ng Dragon performs a three less. A host with poor social skills will probably not
hour entreaty under the new moon, and the player survive to see the evening's end.
makes a Charisma + Anitnal Ken roll, with a difficulty
equal to the degree to which the Thrashing Dragon T""11t .89'u.ntJM.c; MM.:.. {I.PAL SEVDt ~
follows the proper forms. Dignified speech, formal garb It is the greatest desire of the Thrashing Dragons that
and many food offerings appropriate to the local animal they return to life. By means of this rite, elder Thrashing
population will cause the difficulty to be only 4 or 5, Dragons can (to a limited extent) live again. Through
while a stumbling rant by a naked, blood-smeared vam- great ritual preparation, the Thrashing Dragon can walk
pire in her Godbody of the Demon will set he difficulty in sunlight and experience drugs, sex and alcohol as a
to 8 or 9 (at least!). normal living human would.
The number of successes the player rolls indicates The downsides are the price and the incredibly addic-
how well-attended the gathering is. One success means a tive character of the process. Some of the materials for the
few of the lower grade ofdignitaries arrive, three successes rite can be gathered only in the Yang World and the Yomi
makes the gathering an unqualified success, and five or Realms, and other components such as rhinoceros horn,
more brings about a grand fete. The animals so summoned which must be bought from Silk Road merchants, who
must be fed and entertained properly, though predator carry them from the other side of the world. The cost of
and prey will generally put aside their antagonisms for the even a few doses is enough to leave the purses ofeven the
sake of being polite guests. These ambassadors will speak richest mandarins flat. Even those who can afford it soon
to the ritualise about local matters that could use the cannot because having tasted the breath of life once,
intervention of a powerful spirit being like the Thrashing there are few indeed who can say no to a second taste and
Dragon, and in re tum, they'll provide what help they can a third and so on. Just as among those who eat the Chi of
on matters that might be of interest to the vampire. This the hsien. hundreds of years of enlightenment can come
is a reciprocal arrangement - the Thrashing Dragon crashing down in a few short months of addiction.
should expect to give as well as get.
~~~--___.......................-iii!I..______________~

The existence of this rite is well known among With the decay of the Heavenly Order and the fall of
Thrashing Dragons, at least in rumor. Those elders who the Wan Xian, such surveillance bas become extremely
know it are unwilling to teach it to those not wise fax, and enforcement of these laws has largely devolved
enough to use it as an instruction toward enlightenment onto the inhabitants of each world. Most do not bother
and not as a crutch to avoid it. Indeed, many elders refuse with enforcing Heaven's regulations, while others, like
to use the rite at all and assiduously conceal their Yu Huang, enforce their own laws, drawing up treaties
possession of it. The frantic attempts of younger manda- with shen and issuing passports on their own authority.
rins to obtain this rite, ostensibly for the purposes of Even more than in the modem era, the Wan Kuei spend
enlightenment, are often painful to behold, and this a great deal of time in the spirit worlds. Many vampires
single rite has probably caused more woe to the Dharma h ave business relationships with beings there, while oth-
than all others combined. ers retreat across the Wall with the coming of the sun -
System: Unlike many other rites, this rite can be to lurk impotently across the celestial nets rather than
performed ona WanKuei by anothervampireorbya Wan drowse in the mortal world.
Kuei on herself. The subject must be permanently Yang- Wax Kuei crossing the Wall in the Blood & Silk era
imbalanced for this rite to work, and the ritualist must do so in all the normal fash ions - through the Chi
have the Science and Occult Knowledges of at least 4 Pranas, at dragon nests and by following in the crab's
each to perform the complex process ofrni.xing the various footsteps with charms enchanted through the ritual lm,
ingredients necessary for the potion. This requires an buing the Jade. These function as detailed on pp. 145,147
Intelligence+ Rituals roll (difficulty 8). The ingredients ofKindred of the East, except that the Wall Ratings differ
must be drunk at the next sunrise, and the effects last from in the Blood & Silk era, and following in the crab's
sunrise to sunset. footsteps (or "stepping sideways") is easier. The proper
While the rite is in effect, the vampire is alive again. tables for the Blood & Silk era are included below.
She cannot use Disciplines, cannot spend Chi, does not
have access to her innate powers and cannot soak lethal
damage. The P'o still whispers in her ear, and she is still
subject to shadow soul (although the Hun enjoys a -1
difficulty bonus), but she is immW1e to fire and wave soul.
For the most part, she is a normal mortal. If killed, she
suffers the Little Death, regardless of the cause. Vampires
who have been exposed to the rite must make a Willpower
roll (difficulty 9) to not attempt to getfurther access to the
Breathing Mask.

Utti;R ;tt THE ~E- OF:


BE-AUT;FUL SADt{ESS
Cosmology is more than simple theory and philosophy
for the Hungry Dead; it is a truth they feel every night on the
deepest level. Among other matters, in the Fourth Age the
stars have a slightly different effect on the WanKuei, the sun
is less deadly to them, and the Wall between the physical and
the spiritual is weaker.

Aat,oss THE- YIALL


During the Second Age, the August Personagespread
great Celestial Nets between the Middle Kingdom and
the realms of spirit. These nets ordered the universe by
separating Earth from Heaven, the real from the notional
and the living from the dead. These nets restrain most
beings totally and inhibit the crossing of others. At one
time, the nets were closely patrolled by the Celestial
Army to ensure that only spirits and shen with the appro,
priate permission crossed the Wall between the worlds.
~ F011i..: WAYs u-.~ llw'nl.
(i)--------------"""""""""'""""""_..;;...,;...~..:_..........~
FOu.oW'Jltc; ,,_ n. ~.,s FOoTSTEPs August Personage's palace (generally a most inauspicious
The base time required when following in the crab's occurrence for those who have not yet entered dah).
footsteps is three minutes (instead of the five needed in This is an extended roll, with a difficulty set by how
the Fifth Age). Players may roll Perception + Occult hazardous the area is, and the number of successes re-
against a difficulty of the local Wall rating to speed their quired set by how difficult the objective is to find. Well-
crossing. The number of successes rolled determines how marked or well-known areas may take only five or 10
fast the characters cross. As in the modem era, the successes, while difficult or hidden areas may take 50, 75
characters must have jade travel tokens empowered or even 100 successes! Note that the difficulty of the roll
through the level three rite Imbuing the Jade (see Kin, is set by the hazards ofthe area through which the vampire
dred of the East, p. 128). currently travels, not the area where he started: Just
Ensnared characters are caught in the Celestial Nets because you start your journey in a the midst ofa battalion
until someone frees them. These characters are trapped of the Immortal Guard of the Emperor of the Yellow
with one foot in both worlds, frozen in place and unable Springs does not mean your descent into the land of Lost
to defend themselves from the perils of either world.Wan souls will be simple.
Kuei, Xiong Ren and spirits above Power 25 can free a
trapped being, provided they can be convinced to do so. FiEDJ..c;
Players must make an Intelligence + Rituals roll (diffi- Wan Kuei find feeding during the Fourth Age to be
culty 9) for their Wan Kuei characters ro free a trapped considerably easier than in the modem era. Vampires can
comrade. Each roll represents 30 minutes of effort, which feed on breath beginning at Dharma 4 and can feed
cannot be undertaken without special ritual implements osmotically at Dharma 5. Vampires revert to the modem
(which most Wan Kuei who walk between the worlds feeding rules when they begin using the modem Dharma
carry). chart, meaning that few vampires lose a feeding method
Crossing the Wall leaves telltale ripples in the Celes- they already possessed (see guidelines below). What is a
tial Nets. Players must make a Dexterity + Stealth roll major change is that osmotic feeding changes drastically
with a difficulty equal to the local Wall rating+ 2 in order between the 1200s and the 1600s, changing from some-
for their characters to cross without alerting local spirits, thing near to breathing to something much more similar
shen and mortal residents to her presence. The ripples to bleeding the Tapestry itself.
propagare on both sides of the nets, and a failed Stealth Osmosis in the Fourth Age functions as described
roll will alert both those on the destination and departure below. Other forms offeeding use the systems on pp. 13 7-
side of the Wall to the crossing. Each character in a group 138 of Kindred of the East, although breath-draining is
crossing mu$t roll in tum, making it hard to cross the nets available to more vampires.
in large numbers without alerting those nearby.
r----~~~~~~----~~~~.....;.._.~ OSM'os~
Osmosis is the process of absorbing energy from the
Successes Crossing Time environment around oneself, similar to the way living
creatures function but without giving back to the envi-
Botch Ensnared
ronment in the natural cycle of respiration. Elder Wan
0 Unabletocros.5hereforrestofday/night.
Kuei perform this artificial breathing to a limited degree.
1 T wo M inutes Most vampires who can use osmosis favor existing in this
2 One Minute mode, because they feel it spreads the burden of their
3 Three Turns existence most evenly across Creation. The worsening of
4 One Tum the damage caused by osmosis leads to the image of this
5 feeding form becoming considerably tarnished. Suspi-
cions grow that overuse of this ability is one of the reasons
SPJ~T~ that it begins to damage the Tapestry more and more and
that it may speed the turning of the Ages.
Navigating in the spirit realms is difficult and often
dangerous. The Yang Realm operates as much by symbol Wan Kuei also begin using the modem version of
and intention as reality, and the Yellow Springs are a osmosis when they begin using the modem Dharma chart,
tenuous realm ofmemory underlain by a great silent ocean meaning that over several centuries most elders suddenly
and a protean maze of black stone that borders on the become unable to depend on their most reliable feeding
Yomi Realms. Players may attempt to have their charac- mechanism. This is a major blow to the courts, and
ters navigate in these realms by making Intelligence + mandarins losing their ability to draw a limited sort of
Virtue rolls. Yin is used in the Yellow Springs, Yangin the breath shatters the hopes of those vampires who continue
to believe the Age has not yet turned.
Yang Realms, P'o in Yomi Wan and Hun is used if the
vampires somehow find themselves in the forecourt of the System: The vampire makes a Yin or Yang roll,
depending on which type of Chi she wishes to harvest.
106 @ .llooD It_$f~
The difficulty of this roll is 4 if it is made at a dragon nest, depending on location. Modem rules appear on p. 119 of
6 if made man appropriate place (for example, a bustling Kindred of the East.
markecplace for Yang or a remote cemetery for Yin), 8 if
made in an area not aligned [O a Chi type and 10 if made SU1t1.Jc;Hr
in an area aligned with the opposite son of Clu. Each Wan Kuei in the Fourth Age have a considerably
succes:. allows the vampire co absorb one point of Chi easier time withstanding the curse of the Excellent Ar-
from their environment. This can be done no more than cher. Permanently Y~n-imbalanced vampires may with-
oncc per day in a given area. stand the sun for (Stamina - 5) minutes per day and can
The vampire may, ifshe wishes, looseherP'ototearthe spend a point of Yang Chi to give themselves an addi-
necessary Chi from the Tapestry, but this has a terrible tional minute's tolerance. Balanced vampires may spend
effect on the local feng hut. The vampire can absorb as as long as (Yangx 5) minutes in sunlight per day and may
much Chi as she wishes, but the Ch.i becomes defiled in a spend a point of Yang Chi to buy five minutes of add1-
raJius of one yard per point of Chi that she absorbs - a tional tolerance. Finally, Permanently Yang-imbalanced
most inauspicious event. If the mdius ofcorruption touches vampires may spend (Stamina x 15 minutes) in sunlight
a<lragonnesr,thecorruptionwillspreadnofurther,butthe per day and may spend a point of Yang Chi to give
dragon nest will pem1anently wither by one level per J 0 themselves an additional 15 minutes of tolerance -
points ofChi that are drnwn from it. This not only damages allowing some particularly hardy mandarins with mastery
the dragon nest but also cau es disturbances along local of Stamina-increasing God body Disciplines to spend al-
dragon tracks and at connected nests, as well as encourag- most the enrire day awake and exposed to sunlight.
ing Heaven ro thicken the Celestial Nets in the area co Wan Kuei begin using the modem sunlight rules
protect the spirit world from damage. Such egregious acts when they become subject co the modern-era Dharma
brought about rhe fall of the Wan Xian, and they can sti.11 chart (see below). Modem rules for sunlight appear on p.
engender retribution from Heaven, to say nothing ofother 151 of Kindred of the East.
shen whose holdings were forever diminished by the vam-
pires' impudence. vJ""8ES Al(D SOUL. STATES
The internal balance between the Hun and P'o and
SoOL Fi.uJl(c; between Yin and Yang within each of the Ten Thousand
There are attacks chat (in terms of game mechanics) Demons is as precario~ in the Fourth Age as in the Fifth.
bum away the target's Willpower, a process called soul The rules for and effects of the various Virtues, soul states
flay mg. The mostcommon ofthe e are Yin flame weapons and imbalances are generally the same in Blood & Silk as
crearcd with Fire in che Hand (Godbocly of Fire . . ) and they are in Kindred of the East. For complete rules see
the Thousand Hell Stare (Obligation ). When pages 88-91, 139-l40 and 149-151 of that book; the
subjected to a soul flaying atcack, the target soaks with his relevant mechanics and effects are also summarized in the
l lun (Cainites and mortals use Self-Control or Instinct). rable on pages 108-110.
Each unsoaked level of damage subtracts one of the The Hun is somewhat stronger in theAge ofBeautiful
target's temporary Willpower points and. also lowers the Sadness than it will be in the Age of Sorrow, however.
target's permanent Willpower by a similar amount for the This manifests itself not only in the character creation
purpo es of Willpower re~ts and p~ychic resistance until process (seep. 68) but also in the Hun's influence over the
the temporary Willpower that has been flayed away is P'o during shadow soul. When the P'o takes control ofthe
regained normally. Wan Kuei, the Hun may remain conscious and exert a
After the target's last pomtoftemporary Willpower is tempering influence. After the P'o wins a shadow soul
burnt away, additional levels of soul flaying damage each test, the player rolls Hun against a difficulty of 7 (as
cause one temporary derangementanda level ofunsoakable opposed to 9 in the Fifth Age) to keq, the Hun conscious.
aggravated damage. Cainites who lose their lase point of If the Hun is conscious, the player may spend a
Willpower almost invariably enter Rotschreck (difficulty point of temporary Willpower co deter the P'o from a
10). If ac any time a Wan Kuei loses their lase point of course of action. In general, one point is sufficient to
Willpower to such an attack, he must make a shadow soul keep the P'o from acting out a particular urge fo r a few
roll, with the Hun roll made at difficulty 8. Failure in this minutes (as opposed to a single turn in the Fifth Age).
roll means that the vampire has entered an extreme form of However, if the P'o is very intent on its goa I or has been
shadow soul similar to the chih-mei state. He behaves in an thwarted a great deal recently, the Hun may need to
animalistic fashion, and all memories of this period are spend additional Willpower (possibly as often as once
generally lose, though they can be recrieved through the use a cum) to restrain the animal soul from immoderate
of lhc Dragon Tear and other sim.ilar powers. behavior. Note that this Willpower expenditure pre-
These attacks lose their potency with the tightening vents a particular action not poor behavior in general.
of che Celestial Nets in the Fifth Age. The modem rules Willpower spent to prevent the P'o from seducing an
for such attacks come into play in the early to mid~ 1700s, innocent will nor prevent it from drinking excessive
Cum11t F01111t: Vlus u~ Hu.vi~
quamities or alcohol or lashing out at those who annoy @r
it. Players who attempt to completely yoke their P'o Ctt&ltc;E IQ TM F'jmt Ac;E
while in shadow soul are usually going to run out of Date (CE) Affected Vampires
Willpower long before the episode concludes. 1250-1349 advancing to Dharma 1-3
1350 -1449 advancing to Dharma 1-4
,..-... DAW'tU'lc; Ac;E OF' SOl\l\OW 1450-1549 advancing to Dharma 1-5
On the scale of the millennia, Blood & Silk takes 1550-1599 advancing to Dharma 1-6
place during the last breath of the Fourth Age. In a mere 1600-1650 advancing to Dharma 1-7
few centuries, the Great Wheel turns again and the Age after 1650 advancing ro Dharma 1,8
ofSorrow begins. Such a universal transformation doesn't
occur overnight or equally in all places, however. Differ-
ent aspects, places and people feel the shift in different
ways and at different times.
For the Wan Kuei, the most important changes are
FOU"Tlt Ac;E- SYSTEMS
This section details systems for resolving various
internal: Their internal alchemical balancechanges, their
situations that may typically arise in a Blood & Silk
connection to the Tapestry shifts, and their Demon
game. Obviously, this list is not exhaustive-roleplaying
becomes stronger. In game terms, the Fourth Age's sun-
games embody un~imired potential almost by definition.
light rules, Virtue uses, variant Disciplines and Dharma
Neither does this list attempt to cover generic situations
chart all give way to the harsher versions outlined in
such as following someone or traditional combat -
Kindred of the East. Just when this internal debasement
Vampire: The Masquerade and other core World of
occurs depends on the circumstances of the individual
Darkness rulebooks cover those systems in ample detail.
Wan Kuei.
Instead, this chapter is explicitly designed to serve as
The most important variable is enlightenment. At
a setting guide of sorts for Storytellers and players alike-
first, only disciples become debased, but eventually j ina
a handbook to the sorts ofsituations that are likely to arise
and even mandarins find that their st,ages of enlighten-
in the course of the average story. The world of the Fourth
ment are not quite the same as those experienced by the
vampires who walked the Road Back before them. Use Age is radically different from our own. TI1e panoramic
scope and alien character of the era can combine to make
the chart below to determine when the shift occurs -
it very difficult for Storytellers and players to know
vampires are affected when they increase in Dharma,
exactly what it is they're supposed to do. This chapter
with the lowest levels debasing themselves first. Once
helps answer those sorts ofquestions as well a$ functioning
they change, they must use the modem Dharma chart
as a mechanical reference - feel free to read over it and
and the modem rules for sunlighr, soul flaying, the Soul
use it as an idea source, as well as for something to
Virtues and feeding. Once the change occurs, there is no
frantically flip through at game time. Storytellers should
going back.
also refer to the "Classic Bits And Skills'' boxed text on p.
Note that the speed and dates of the change vary
59 of Kindred of the East.
from area ro area, with some vampires hit early, while in
other places, disciples are as they were in the Fourth Age
up until the 17th century. For centuries, there is uncer-
tainty if the effects might be caused by improper teach-
ing or unrighteous behavior, rather than by a change in
the natural order. Storytellers should feel free to alter
the dates to reflect special circumstances in their
chronicle.
The change to the Fifth Age also affects more univer-
sal matters, most prominently the Wall between worlds.
Just when the modern Wall ratings and rules for spirit
travel (see Kindred of the East, pp. 145-147) come into
play is up to the Storyteller, but it should roughly coincide
with when an area's vampires become debased. The Wall
around areas of corruption and chaos tends to thicken
more quickly than in serene and untouched places.
,.... Hu.. Extra Strength: Gain one extra success on a feat

u,.. Demon Arts Control: After evoking Demon Arts,


of strength for each point spent.
Fangs: Spend one point for fangs (Strength + 1
3ggravated damage) or rwo for a maw (Strength
roll Hun (difficulty equal to P'o) to maintain control; + 2 aggravated damage).
failure means P'o is dominant while Arts are used. Mental Resistance: Roll P'o (difficulty 9) to resist
Empathy Cap: Empathy rating cannot be higher or break mental powers (one attempt per power).
than Hun rating. Soul States: Roll P'o to force fire, shadow or
Shadow Soul: Roll Hun t:o resist shadow soul wave soul.
(see below).
IFRcn o,- ,...... ...."
Sharpened Senses: Roll Hun (difficulty 6) to
Imbalance occurs if P'o rating is three or more points
sharpen senses for a scene. The Storyteller may reduce
higher than the Hun rating.
Perceptiondifflculties (-2) andgrantlimiteddangersense
(Storyteller rolls Hun, difficulty 6-10) . Raging P,o: The P'o makes a shadow soul attempt
every night, at a time of its choosing.
Spirit Speech: Roll Hun (difficulty equal to the
Wall) to speak to spirits the vampire can detect.
Superintendenceof theP'o: Whenenteringshadow
YJ..
soul, roll Hun (difficulty 7) ro keep rhe Hun conscious. Usu
With a corucious P'o, spend one point of Willpower to Black Cycle: Spend one Yin Chi upon waking to
stop the P'o from pursuing one course of action. animate the body for 10 nights. The vampire appears
hRcn OF"",,.Al~CE corpse-like and suffers a + 1 social difficulty penalty
with mortals.
Imbalance occurs if the Hun rating is three or more
points higher than the P'o rating. Fire Soul: Roll Yin to resist fire soul.
Limited Willpower: You cannot spend Willpower Ghostsight: Spend one point of Yin Chi. to artune
for automatic successes. the vamptre fora scene. This enables the following effects:
Atemi Strike: Roll Yin + Medkine/Crafts

....
..P'o

Berserk Rage: Roll P'o (difficulty of Hun +3) to


\rOluntarily enter fire soul for a scene.
(difficulty 8) after three turns ofconcentration to
detect vulnerable points; each success provides
an extra level of damage on the next physical
attack. Use Medicine tO find living beings'
vulnerabilitfes and Crafts to discover inanimate
Demon Arts Cap: No Demon Art may be higher objects' weak points.
than the vampire's P'o. Flaw Sense: Roll Perception + Medicine/Crafts
(difficulty 4 to 8) after three turns of
Demon Chi (evoking): Roll P'o (difficulty Hun
+3) to be able to use Demon Chi for a scene. Four concentration to detect disease or structural flaws.
successes causes fire soul, in addition to accessing Use Medicine co detecr disease and Crafts for
Demon Chi. structural flaws.
Demon Chi (regaining): Roll P'o upon waking Yin Sight: Roll Perception+ Occult (difficulty of
(difficulty 6) and regain one point per success; regain the Wall +2) afterthreetumsofconcentrationto
Demon Chi instead of Yin or Yang Chi when feeding at see creatures from the Yin World.
a defiled site. IFffcn OF" rlMPO~Y JMt111A'(CI
Demon Chi (spending): Spend up to Stamina Temporary Yin imbalance occurs when the vampire scores
rating in Demon Chi per tum, for the following effects: more Yin Chi than her Yin Virtue or has no Yang QU left.
Extra Actions: Gain one extra physical action Volatility: Upon fumbling a roll with an associated
next rum for each point spent. Chi expenditure, each extra point of Chi (over the domi#
Extra Damage: Cause one extra automatic level nant Virtue) ofeither type burns or corrodes, causing a level
of damage in dose combat for each point spent. of aggravated damage. Soak with Stamina (difficulty 8),
and check for wave soul.
-
Ctwn-. rou-.: Ylus UtU>I.. ~~

hFEas OF TEMPO~'.J ,... .. A'(CI


Permanent Yin imbalance occurs when the rating of Temporary Yang imbalance occurs when rhe vam-
the Yin Virtue is three or more points higher then the pire scores more Yang Chi than her Yang Virtue or has
Yang Virtue. no Yin Chi left.
Corpse,Self: The body becomes very corpse-like: Volatility: Upon fumblmga roll with an associated
Wound penalties are halved (round down), and the Chi expenditure, each extra point of Chi (over the
vampire may soak fire damage widi Stamma. dominant Virtue) ofeither ty/)e bums or corrodes, causing
Decomposition: Damage from sunlight or botching a level of aggravated damage. Soak with Stamina (diffi-
any Chi roll drops Appearance by one. culty 8), and check for wave soul.
Derangement: The Wan Kuei develops a derange-
ment, which may not be overcome unc1l the balance is
IFnas OF~D4TJH8NMa
corrected. Common Yin derangements include depres- Permanent Yang imbalance occurs when the Yang
sion, intellectualization and obsession (death and the Virtue rating is three or more points higher than the Yin
dead). Virtue rating.
Hungry Black Cycle: The vampire must always Archer's Blessing: The vampire can resist direct
aspect to Ym but must spend one point a nighr, instead of sunlight for Stamina xl5 minutes. lndirecr sunlighr may
every 10 nights. The vampire also craves dead flesh and be withstood for up to three hours.
cold blood. Breeding: The vampire can impregnate another (or
Lethargic Hun: All Hun difficulties rise by 1. become pregnant) with a dhampyr.
Burning Yang: The vampire suffers one extra die of
damage from fire.
Note also chat all Yin-balanced vampires (Yin Vir-
tue two or more greater than Yang Virtue) can be staked Derangement: The Wan Kuei gains a derange,
by wood. ment, which cannot be overcome until the balance is
corrected. Common Yang derangements include berserk,
YM.c; gluttony and multiple personalities.
Hungry Scarlet Cycle: The vampire must aspect
Usu with Yang Chi but appears very human - breathing,
Healing Potion: A Yang-rich mixture of the warm to the couch, etc. She becomes ravenous at five or
vampire's blood can heal others - one non-aggravated less Chi and uncontrollable at rwo or less Chi.
health level per point of Yang Chi spent preparing Lustful P'o: The P'o needs one less success ro cause
the potion. fire soul, and it may be triggered by sex or food.
Lifesight: Spend one point of Yang Chi to Plague Ground: Every month, roll Stamina co
attune the vampire for one scene. This allows rhe avoid becoming the carrier of a communicable mortal
following effects: disease. Difficulty depends on circumstance.
Emotion Perception: Roll Perception + Note also rhat all Yang-balanced vampires (Yang
Empathy (difficulty 9) to detect the general Virtue twoormoregreaterthan Yin Virtue) can be staked
emotional state of another. (Note chat use of this by metal.
ability on other shen is considered a serious breach
of etiquette.) SOUL. STAnS
Emotion Tracking: Roll Perception + Yang
(difficulty 9) to home in on a specific emotion FJ-.1 scn.tL
(range of 20 feet x Perception). Fire soul is a berserk rage in which the vampire
Yang Sight: Roll Perception+ Occult (difficulty lashes out at whatever angers him, feeds on whoever he
of the Wall +2) after three turns ofconcentration wishes, ignores wound penalties and is resistant co men,
to detect Yang spirits. tal control ( + 2 difficulty to impose control, ,2 difficulty
to resist control).
Scarlet Cycle: Spend one point of Yang Chi upon
waking to animate for one night; the vampire appears System: An extended t'esisted roll (up to five rolls)
quite hum.an and suffers no special social penalties. between P'o (difficulty 6) and Yin (difficulty 6). If the P'o
can accumulate two successes, the vampire enters fire soul
Wave Soul: Roll Yang to resist wave soul.
for the scene.
:-=-~~~~;...;.;...........~~ilillim------ ...----~
M'o~nu.. AFFA;~s
ILOOD It Si~

Fire Soul Triggers: Failure, especially before a Though the Wan Kuei are dead, chat doesn't mean
group; humiliation; hunger (five or fewer Chi); they no longer associate themselves with the mortal
being insulted; extreme passion; a threat co a wu-
world. Many vampires meddle in the affairs of the living,
mace; desire for food and sex (when permanently
particularly the lives of their families. Others may mas-
Yang-imbalanced); using the Black Wind Disci-
querade as humans over the long or short term for any
pline (see below); evoking Demon Chi (see below).
number of reasons. In such situations, the follow ing
Notes: Vampires may voluntarily encerfite soul; systems will be quite useful. Note also that many of these
the player rolls P'o unresisted (difficulty Hun +3 ). systems can be used among the courts and corpse families
When a vampire is permanently Yang-imbalanced, of the Wan Kuei.
the P'o needs a single success to trigger fire soul.
Players and Storytellers shouldn't feel that they
When using Black Wind, the player must make a have to use these mechanics and die rolls rather than
simple P'o roll each tum (difficulty 8) to avoid
roleplaying. Instead, use chem as guideposts co what life
~ntering fire soul. When evoking Demon Chi, if the
is like and to quickly determine the outcome of events
player gets four or more successes, the vampire chat are peripheral to the story. Similarly, they make
enters fire soul. nice backups for when a player is having an off night or
the reverse: determining if a character with weak social
skills whose pl.ayer is a really good talker can actually
Wave Soul is an unthinking fear that causes the
carry off a social situation.
vampire to run from the source of his pain or shame,
ignoring all obstacles and all wound penalties and F'AMJLY~S
resisting mental control as in fire soul.
Arranging a Marriage [variable]: Good marriages
System: An extended resisted roll (up to five are critical. Marrying well grows strong, respectable
rolls) between P'o (difficulty 6) and Yang (difficulty families with powerful political connections and plenty
6). 1f the P'o can accumulate two successes, the of money. Arranging a marriage is coo complicated a
vampire enters wave soul for the scene. matter to leave to a single roll, however. Storytellers
Wave Soul Triggers: Fire (unless controlled by should make sure to involve as much roleplaying as
the vampire); sunlight; the appearance of a powerful possible in the process. Marriages are crucial events for
demon, such as a Yama King; volatile Chi burning in families and often the subject of great hopes, high
temporary Yin or Yang imbalance. emotions and extensive negotiations. In some cases,
families even kidnap and f~te good prospects in an
SttADoW' Soui.
attempt to impress them!
Shadow souUs a period of control by the P'o. It's
Normally, a matchmaker arranges marriages so that
dark agendas and desires take over, and the Hun rebuffed offers do not cause a loss of face, but families
must either watch with little impact on the resulting
often monitor the process closely, and it is entirely
rampage or drop into complete dormancy. possible that a character might herself be a matchmaker.
System: An extended resisted roll (up to fjve Intelligence+ Politics or Finance rolls should be used to
rolls) between P'o (difficulty 6) and Hun (difficulty find a prospective match of good political and financial
6). If the P'o can accumulate two successes, the worth for the client. Perception + Empathy should be
vampire enters shadow soul for the scene. used to judge if the prospective couple's temperaments
Shadow Soul Triggers: Violating one's Dharma; match - while rp.arriage is not strictly a matter of love,
compromising one's personalhonor; a botched Will- it's a poor matchmaker who marries a couple sure to
power roll; emerging from fire or wave soul; great clash like fire and water. One success on these rolls
stress, trauma or shame; the conditions set by the P'o indicates an acceptable match, three successes indicates
Nature; a P'o imbalance (one roll per night); invok~ a good match, and five is an excellent match, benefiting
ing a Demon Art (see notes). both parties. Matchmakers who make such a match can
Notes: When invoking a Demon Art, make a expect the families co speak well of chem, which is sure
simple Hun roll (difficulty equal to P'o); failure to attract business.
means the vampire enters shadow soul for the An astrologer, medium or other fortuneteller must
scene. When entering shadow soul, roll Hun (dif- also weigh in on the viability of a marriage. The
ficulty 7) to keep the Hun conscious; you may then difficulty of the Intelligence + Portents roll to deter-
spend Willpower to curb the P'o's actions. Entering mine if a marriage is suitable is only 5 unless one of the
sha<low soul usually counts as an act of blindness potential couple has a very complex. horoscope (as is
(Storyteller's discretion). the case when one ofthem is a dhampyr) - these sorts
of readings are the bread and butter of fortunetellers.
~ FOua,: Vl...,s u.._ Hum.
ffiji 11!1!!11!1""""'""""""'"""'_,,...,_.______~~
~. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Charisma, Manipulation or Intelligence+ Subter- Staying the Favored Concubine [Charisma +


fuge rolls should be used if the match's worth is to be Empathy or Manipulation+ Subterfuge]: Concubinage
misportrayed, with a difficulty set by how hard it is to is an unfortunate tradition in the Middle Kingdom,
conceal the bride or groom's negative qualities. Match- whereby poor families with attractive daughters sell them
makers' players use Perception + Subterfuge to detect to rich men as combination domestics and pleasure dolls.
these misportrayals, rolling at difficulty 6. Rolling at For some very few women, this is a ticket to luxury. They
least one success allows the matchmaker to detect that are pampered, and their children are treated as well as or
something is amiss. If the matchmaker rolls more suc- even better than if they were the man's own legitimate
cesses than the person misportraying the match, she offspring. For the rest, it is a dreary combination of
exposes the fraud. Having such a deceit exposed in- household labor and sex slavery.
volves a great loss of face for those perpetrating it and As one can imagine, the competition to become a
severely damages the man or woman's (probably already rich man's favored concubine is often quite fierce. Con-
doubtful) chances for a good marriage. cubines' players roll either Charisma + Empathy (diffi-
Judging Your Child's Aptitude [Perception + culty equal to the target's Willpower) or Manipulation+
Empathy]: Children represent a major investment. A Subterfuge (difficulty equal to the target's Intelligence+
parent who wishes to keep his family healthy in the 3) each month, keeping track of total successes accumu-
next generation and thus ensure his posterity must be lated over the last three months.
able to distinguish able offspring from those who are The concubine with the most successes is the favorite
unlikely to succeed. In a successful family, those with of any given month. Those concubines with Appearances
great potential are given the extensive schooling in the ofless than 4 must subtract the amount their Appearance
classics necessary to pass the civil-service tests and is"below 4 from the number of successes rolled. T aeries
become officials. Those with less potential are taken such as arranging for a competing concubine's disfigure-
into the family business or trade. Those who have no ment or tragic demise from poisoning are favorites not
potential are sent off to be soldiers or officers or (if the only among concubines competing for favor but among
family can afford it) kept on an allowance. Poor fami- wives trying to protect their and their children's status.
lies have far fewer options and can do little but bemoan Like the marriage system, there is a lot of roleplaying to be
their misfortune when Heaven punishes them for some done that can influence the outcome. This system
misdeed by saddling them with idiot offspring. shouldn't be relied upon entirely unless everyone in-
The parent's player must make a Perception + Em- volved is a Storyteller character or lots of downtime is
pathy roll, difficulty 9, to judge the worth of the child being played out quickly.
accurately. This roll is generally made when the child Family Disputes [variable]: Almost anything can
begins to mature, between 13 and 15 for boys, a little trigger a rift within a family-any real or perceived slight
earlier for girls. One success allows the parent to get a can ignite a longstanding dispute over the disposition of
general idea of the child's aptitude. Three successes inheritance, control of a business or parental respect and
allows her to sense the child's strengths and weaknesses attention. The result can be anything from months or
and hopefully protect him from temptations that might years of hard feelings to bloodshed in the streets, if the
ruin his development. Five successes allows the parent families are powerful enough.
to get a real feel for what the child is like, allowing her Attempting to resolve a dispute involves bringing
to know just what attention to give him to le.a d the youth everyone involved to the table, a Charisma+ Empathy
co excel. or Leadership roll, with the difficulty set by the severity
Extramarital Affairs [variable]: Extramarital af- of the dispute and the pigheadedness of the principal
fairs by both men and women are common, even to the perpetrators. Finding an equitable solution requires an
point of social acceptability. However, they are only Intelligence + Politics roll, and a Manipulation or Cha-
acceptable so long as all of the parties involved maintain risma + Politics roll is generally necessary to convince
discretion. To convince a suspicious interlocutor that the feuding parties to actually set aside their difference
there isn't anything going on, the player rolls Manipula- and honor the accord. The number of successes on this
tion+ Subterfuge, with a difficulty set by the amount of last roll determines the degree of actual reconciliation
suspicion the examiner harbors. Finding a split-second that takes place. One success patches matters until the
hiding place or otherwise making things seem proper next excuse. Three successes buries the matter, at least
when caught unexpectedly at an inopportune moment is for a few years. Five or more successes brings about a
a Wits + Subterfuge roll with a difficulty set by how genuine and heartfelt reconciliation, complete with
awkward the situation is and how long the embarrassed hugs, tears and mutual pleas for forgiveness on the part
couple has to set things right. It is a Charisma + Eti- of the principals.
quette roll to carry an affair off in a style that doesn't Exacerbating a feud is much easier than patching it
seem cheap or ungentlemanly, with a difficulty set by the up. A successful Perception + Politics roll points out the
circumstances of the relationship and the strength of the ideal way to increase the discord, and a Manipulation+
wronged partner's reputation.
112~~~~-'!'"--_,;,,;~......-----......-------~
Subterfuge roll is all that's necessary to pour poi#
son in the appropriate ears. Three or more sue#
cesses aclually ingratiates the person provoking
the feud with tho e he is manipulating. A few
Jntelhgencc + Subterfuge rolls ro fabricate the
proper e\idence anJ Oexcericy + Stealth rolls co
plant it will also work, without leaving open the
unpleasanr po s1b1lit)' that both sides will begin
talking anil realize omeone has been playing
chem for fools.
Gaining Permission [Manipulation+ Empa,
thy]: Chme'Cculture places great emphasis on filial
piety. Parental permission is net.oded for mamagc,
business undcnakmgs and even long trips, in some
cases. Gaining such permission can be exceedingly
difficult if the parent is unwilling. While parental
will can be flouted, such disrespect is certain to cut
the errant child off from his family and his inherit#
ance-anear~erta in barrrom re peccableaccivicy.
Such rogue:.only have ltves as merchants, prostitutes
or brigands to look forward to.
Wheedling for permission to do something
one's parents do not approve ofis a Manipulation
+Empathy roll, with a difficult et by the degree
to which the family finds objecuonable the ac#
cion for which the character wishes permission.
Permission co take a long tnp might be difficulty
4, while marrying an actress or running off to
become a soldier are almost cercainly difficulty 9.
Attempting co line up family members to lobby
in support is a Charisma + Policies roll, wich a
difficulty agam equal to the cupidity of chc
action. Each success lowers the difficulty of the
Manipulation + Empathy roll. The player may
make one roll per month and must gain more
uccesses than the family head's permanent Will-
power wichouc failing. A botch means the char-
acter has pushe<l his luck coo far, and is our of
favor for many years co come, or even disowned!
Characters with srrong personalities may lobby
family ciders directly in an attempt to aid someone
m her attempt co gain permission for some under-
taking. Such characters may make a direct Ma-
rupulat1on + Empathy roll against a difficulty
equal m rhe paterfamilias' Willpower, with sue#
cesses add mg direcrly to the total of che character
applying for pcrmi. ion.

~ AicD ADMpost1J0'4
Passing the Examinations [Intelligence +
Academics]: The cinl-service examinations are
critical to the culcure of the Middle Kingdom.
This merit-based system, in theory, allows anyone
to rise into an important government post. While
this theorettcal impartiality is often compromised
by nepomm, it still allows the diligent tudent a
chance for advancement.
113
Testingisdividedintoroughlythreerounds.Thereare ~--------------------...---~~~~~
sources to place the bribe. Note that, in many cases,
the prefectural tests, the regional tests and the imperial whether the official accepts the bribe or not, he will
tests, which are administered by the Son of Heaven him- still take the money.
self. Each one is more difficult than the last, and all test the Criminal Investigation [variable]: While there
scholar on his knowledge of classical writings. To succeed are "police" in China, they are mostly thugs who appre-
at the prefectural tests, the hopeful swdent's player must hend people and make a living shaking down peasants
roll Intelligence+ Academics (difficulty6) and gain two or for "customary fees." It is up to judges to do their own
more successes. The subsequent regional examinations are investigation into matters brought before them. Some
difficulty 8, and the imperial tests are difficulty 9. Those judges are corrupt and concerned only with who can pay
who score well on the imperial tests are far more likely to the biggest bribe when finding right and wrong. Others
gain promotion to important posts than those who score are heroic crusaders for justice, protecting the innocent
the minimum number ofsuccesses on the ptefectural tests. and rooting out wrongdoing and corruption.
Doing (}uanxi [Charisma + Etiquette]: In this Perl"orming criminal investigations is a complex task.
case, guanxi is not used in the sense of the magical Intelligence + Investigation is used to i;oot out witnesses.
obligations felt by those Wan Kuei who are members of a Getting witnesses to open up is Charisma + Empathy or
corpse family, but in the sense of the complex matrix of Manipulation+ Subterfuge (if one must resort to tricking
gift-giving, bribes and favors that motivates society in the witnesses). The gathering of physical evidence is Percep-
Middle Kingdom. In order to get, it is necessary to give. tion +I nvestigation. Analyzing evidence is Intelligence+
While this often amounts to bribery, it is not exactly the Investigation. Heroic juages must often walk among the
same as in the West because this sort of remuneration is poor and the petty criminals to uncover real corruption,
just part of the way things are done. and Charisma or Intelligence + Streetwise rolls are often
The Storyteller should assign anything that requires useful to find out the details of a crime that only the
government permission (which is almost everything) a underworld could know.
Resources cost. Characters with Resources higher than Many judges, particularly those ofthe heroic sort, ate
the cost of the favor can afford it without disturbing their acquainted with both the local Shih demon hunters as
finances. Those with Resources equal to the cost of the well as local shen who are concerned with meting out
favor will decrease their Resources by one in the course of justice among the Night People. Note that this doesn't
obtaining the favor. Those with Resources below the cost mean a judge has detailed knowledge of who is who, who
of the favor simply cannot afford all the appropriate gifts, does what and who knows which Disciplines. He just
bribes and banquets to arrange it. They must either rely on knows that if tertible supernatural crimes begin to occur,
a patron to arrange the matter or attempt to secure the certain beings (human or otherwise) will try to do some-
money in some other fashion - a usurious loan, criminal thing about it.
activity and so forth. Escaping Conscription [Manipulation + P erfor-
When a character is doing guanxi, the player should mance/Streetwise]: Those of low standing are often
roll Charisma + Etiquette (difficulty 6). Three or JUOre conscripted, either into the army or as labo,rers in civil
successes reduce the Resources cost for the favor by one. engineering projects with enough fatalities that they
Five or more successes reduce it by two. Failure means the might be mistaken for military campaigns. Escaping
favor does not happen, but the character can attempt again conscription is easy for the hunchbacked or lame but
at a later date or with another official. A botch causes grave more difficult for the healthy. Players whose characters
offense to the official. wish td escape via a ruse of ill health or femininity must
Bribery and Corruption [Ma nipulation + make a Manipulation + Performance roll. Those whose
Streetwise]: Obviously, there are times when the regular characters simply wish to bribe the officials in charge
run of guanxi isn't enough. Guanxi is how one gets officials must make a Manipulation + Streetwise roll, provided
to actually do their jobs or to make special exceptions for the characters have the money. The officials on the spot
legitimate or most legitimate causes. To actually get an arecheapandeasytobribe,butthey'resuretocomeback
official to break the law in a real and serious way-to award later. More permanent exemption from conscription
a contract preferentially, tum a blind eye to illegal activity can be obtained via a Resources 3 guanxi roll.
or even to provide intelligence about military activities to Managing a Household or Business [variable]:
local brigands- is a much mo.re difficult proposition. Managing business affairs is critical to success as a mer-
Finding and placing a bribe requires a Manipula- chant, and managing a large household is just as critical
tion + Streetwise roll, with a difficulty between the for success as a gentleman's wife. Haggling occurs via
official's Willpower and his Willpower+ 3, depending opposed Manipulation+ Finance rolls, with the winner
on how badly the law is being broken. Someone who receiving a discount proportionate to the number of
will accept a bribe to let a junk full of trade goods come successes she achieves. One successes is 10 percent or so,
ashore at night may.still have a strong sense of probity three successes gets the merchant's minimum asking
when it comes to letting a few hundred cutthroats slip price, and five successes allows the buyer to talk the
the noose. Obviously, the character needs the Re- merchant into accepting a loss.
8lOOD II Siu:.
~~~---- .....-----------------------~
Actually managing a business or a household from openly and showing polite deference to potentially offen-
week to week is an Intelligence + Finance roll, with a sive behavior. Behaving properly in a negotiation is
difficulty set by the amount of money coming in to the Charisma+ Etiquette (difficulty 7). Explaining one's way
household and the local economic conditions. Bringing out of a difficult situation is Wits + Etiquette (difficulty
in quality partners or hiring good help is a Perception+ 8). Planning a social event involving different kinds of
Empathy roll, with a difficulty set by the quality of help shen is Intelligence+ Etiquette (difficulty 6 +the number
available. One success is adequate help, three is good, five of different kinds of shen invited).
brings in exceptional talent that is an asset to the business Finding Shelter While Traveling [Intelligence +
or household. Once partners have been retained or help Survival]: The Wan Kuei travel a great deal, far more than
hired, an eye needs to be kept on them to keep them theCainiresoftheWest.Obviously,ifthevampirepossesses
honest. Auditing the books is a Perception + Investiga- a moderate command of the Godbody ofEarth, there's little
tion roll, and investigating m~sdoings among business or trouble traveling, assuming that she's willing to spend the
household employees is Charisma + Leadership. Chi to sink into the soil every day. Those not so fortunate
must make an Intelligence+ Survival roll each day, with a
difficulty equal to the amount ofcover available in the place
The Wan Kuei may move in mortal circles at times, through which they are traveling. Cities, ravine-covered
but they have their own concerns to deal with. This mountains and bamboo forests are difficulty 4 to 6, while
section provides mechanics and insight into many situa- rocky wastelands and steppes are difficulty 8 or 9. If the
tions that are unique to the Hungry Dead. fu above, these vampire has the appropriate implements to secure shelter
systems are intended as an aid to the Storyteller, not a (for a example a tarp or ashovel and an assistant to shovel the
substitute for roleplaying. dirt back over her) decrease the difficulty of the roll by 2. A
botch can mean anything from an encounter with hostile
shen while looking for somewhere to sleep to a mistaken
Passing as a Mortal [Charisma/Intelligence + belief that one has found shelter until it is too late to do
Performance]: To pass oneself off as a mortal in the ~hort anything but rot in the sunlight.
term is a Charisma + Performance roll. It is automatic for Note that travel is forbidden for anyone but heimin
Yang-imbalanced vampires, difficulty4 for Yang-aspect,ed and those with the appropriate travel documents. The
vampires, difficulty 6 for Yin-aspected vampires, diffi- penalty for unauthorized travel varies from forcible repa-
culty 8 for permanently Yin..tmbalanced Wan Kuei and triation to capital punishment. While this is not strictly
difficulty 10 for any vampire who has lost points of enforced in many areas, those without proper permission
Appearance to damage from sunlight or botched Chi rolls are nevertheless at the mercy of the local courts. Those
while Yin-imbalanced. If, and only if, someone is actively traveling with bad papers or with no papers at all face
trying to prove the vampire's untlead status, the deception spiritual interrogation by the First Oni of the Court, who
is opposed by the investigator's Perception + Alertness may, at her option, devour the souls of guilty parties.
(difficulty 6). If the investigator scores more successes, he Securing a Haven [Intelligence+ Survival]: Find-
becomes aware of the vampire's unliving status. ing a good lair is critical to a Wan Kuei's survival. A good
Passing as a mortal over the long term requires an haven must be secure, defensible, private and have at least
Intelligence + Performance roll, with a difficulty set by one emergency exit. It should also be near prime feeding
the degree of eccentricity the vampire exhibits. One grounds and have plenty of different routes by which the
success means the neighbors aren't immediately calling vampire can come and go, tq allow him to throw off those
for the witch-hunters, three successes means they think who would follow him back to his lair. It is an Intelligence
something is strange but don't know quit~ what, and five + Survjval roll to find a good haven, with a difficulty set
or more successes allows you to be a sterling member of by the amoun~ of time the vampire is wi~Hng to spend
the community, suffering from a terrible illness. searching and the quality of the area vis-a~vis available
Politely Meeting with Shen [variable]: The sMn haven space. One success finds a marginal haven lacking
communicate regularly over disputes between the groups. at least one essential characteristic. Three successes finds
Mostly, these are peace negotiations triggered by conflicl!s an adequate haven, and five finds an excellent haven
between the various races, but there are also a variety of suitable for long-term habitation.
"mutual 1,mderstandings" and similarly flimsy alliances. Those vampires dwelling in rural areas cannot gener-
Wan Kuei may find themselves in such a delegation. It is ally rely on secrecy. There are, after all, only so many
also possible to end up accidentally walking into the abandoned temples and mist-shrouded caves in which a
middle of a Xiong Ren war party or a hsien-controlled hungry monster might lurk. Strewing about the appropriate
dragon nest. Being able to choke out some rapid and evil signs and mutilated bodies to intimidate the locals is a
sincere apologies and beat a hasty retreat can be the Manipulation + Intimidation roll, with a difficulty set by
difference between a close call and the Final Death. the amount of time and effort the Wan Kuei puts into the
There is a moderately well-defined c6de o(manners intimidating displays. One success keeps the superstitious
between the shen, including not brandishing weapons locals away, three successes keeps all the locals away and
115
(!)----------------~,_..--~~~~~~
will prevent che local militia from coming into the area Cou~.Poa.mcs
unless che vampire becomes a nuisance. Five successes Courtly Manners [variable]: Good manners are
mearu chat local officials will collude tO cover up reports of critical to political success. An enlightened member of the
even the worst depredations rather than stir the menace Wan Kuei must not only be talented and enlightened but
that lurks in cheir midst by sending army troops in. also gifted with thesocial graces. Wan Kuei events are often
Hiding a Body [Intelligence + Subterfuge]: Hid, long and grueling, with extraordinary emphasis placed on
ing a body is often an important matter. It's not that the fonnalities and protocol. After all, the participantS are
murder of some lower-class thief will attract attention, immortal. There is no need for them co hurry, and ch()S(!
but a body drained of blood and with the characteristic unwilling to spend a few hours learning the fine points of
fang,marks of the Wan Kuei will cause a public hysteria, courtlymannersarehardlysuirableasguardiansoftheworld.
even if there is no official response. The area will soon be A player should roll Charisma + Etiquette for her
a-swarm with Shih demon hunters, Wu Lung wizards, vampireroconductherselfinarnannerlyfashionatcourt,
amateur witch-hunters, chamHellers, alms,seekingbonzes with a difficulty equal co che commonness ofthe situation.
ble ing houses and every other sort of holy man, ranting Dressing properly and otherwise choosing the best course
madman and alchemist eager to capture a Wan Kuei weak of social action requires an Intelligence + Etiquette roll,
enough that he must still drink blood. with the difficulty again set by the situation and the
Vampires who are not terribly fastidious can simply amount of flair the courtier wishes to display - one
grow a maw or fangs and eat the body. Most of the Wan cannot walk daringly close to the edge of propriety wirh-
Kuei find this repulsive, however, and it is sure to start out the risk of falling off.
ugly rumors ofdegeneracy ifitgetsaround to the offender' Wan Kuei formal clothing is often astonishingly
peers that he is a corpse-eater. An intelligence+ Subter, elaborate, with tens or even hundreds of pounds of silk
fuge roll should be used if the vampire is actually hiding brocade. Even the limbs of rhe dead strain under such a
che body and has no specific disposal method in mind. heavy load, and Stamina + Euquette rolls arc often
The difficulty ls based on the number and quality of required to wi thstand particularly grueling affairs or
hiding spaces and the number of successes is how well formal rituals without wilcing. Likewise, the social af,
rhe body is hidden. One success means nobody will find fairs of shen are singularly prone to awesome and uncx,
it immed1acely1 three successes means that it is unl_ikely peered disturbances. From mundane assassinations and
co be found without a thorough search or extraordinary scandals ro Xiong Ren attacks and appearances by the
conditions, and five successes means the body will al- ambassadors ofYomi, the disgraced Princes ofthe Earth
most certainly never be found.
~~~~--......--.-..-------------------~ness roll on the part ofthe inquisitor, with a difficulty equal
entertain the most amazing diversions at their social
functions. Wits+ Etiquette rolls are used to recover from to the circum&tances - it is far easier in interrogate
such unexpected disruptions. someone strapped to a chair than it is when she is in courtly
All matters mannerly are judged on roughly the same regaliar on her guard and in her God body of the Demon.
success scale. One success indicates an acceptable perfor- Concealing a particular matterfrom scrutiny by those using
mance. Nobody finds fault in it, but it is still ritual and not Soul Bridge (Obligation ) is a Willpower roll, difficulty
second nature. Three successes indicates a performance of 6. A single success masks clie thought in question. There is
the best sort, with all matters of protocol carried out with no known way to conceal infonnation from spiritual inter-
perfect grace. Five successes indicates a masterful perfor, rogation by a master of the DragonTear, but court officials
mance, and repeated, such performances can earn a vam- strictly control the use of this power.
pire renown and a position as the official or unofficial Finding Political Allies [variable]: One ofthe most
master of protocol. Botches on matters of courtly eti critical political matters is findi.ng allies. Despite popular
quette are particularly devastating, and there are many of impressions, brutal politicalgames are not generally played
the Wan Kuei who would claim that etiquette is the most by emotionless automatons but by normal beings with a
important skill anyone could hope to master. full range offeelings wlao are simply ruthless about getting
Maintaining Face [Intelligence + Expression]: what they want. In ~etting what you want, trustworthy
Losing face over failure in a shame-based culture is a friends and allies are critical. It is a Perception + Politics
terrible thing. A significant failure-even an inevitable roll to find good allies and a Charisma + Empathy roll to
one - can ruin a promising career. It is an Intelligence become friends with them. Difficulty is set by the relative
+Expression roll to explain a failure in a manner that stations of the parties and the degree of similarity. An
does not cause any of those involved to lose face. The elder gaining a protege would have difficulty 4, while a
difficulty is set by the severity of the failure. Success does conservative young Crane gaining the trust of an elderly
not just cast the characters in a positive light. Even a Thrashing Dragon would have a minimum difficulty of 8.
single success can whitewash failure; additional sue- It takes some time between rolls, at least a few days.
cesses convey to one's superiors information about the The total accumulated successes indicate the strength of
actual state of events while still protecting the reputa the friendship. Ten is an acquaintance, 20 is mild friend-
tions of those involved. Note that this is by no means a ship, and so on, up to the 80-100 range, which indicates
perfect defense, only a formulaic and usually unchal- abondthatwilllastforthedurationoftheRoadBackand
lenged explanation that may have almost nothing to do perhaps even beyond. Both parties can roll, if both desire
with the truth. An ancestor out for blood can usually friendship, but the accumulated successes are not added
send fact finders out, not only disgracing the character together-friendship is often unequal.
for failure but for lying as well. The Poison Tongue [Manipulation +Politics]:
Prying Eyes [Wits+ Investigation]: Sometimes it is Just as finding allies is critical, turning opinion against a
necessary to investigate a matter without revealing your political rival is also ofcrucial importance. lei~ a Manipu-
interest. This may be something as trivial as ascertaining lation + Pohtics roll, with a difficulcy determined by the
someone's likes so that a gift can be obtained for him or degree of competence and politiqil aptitude demon-
proving a paramour's indiscretions. lt can be as serious as strated by one's opponent. Everyone can tum opinion
attempting to expose someone as a fleshei').ter or akuma. against the court bumbler, but throwing darts at the hero
Investigating a matter indirectly is a Wits+ Investigation of the hour without seeming petty is very difficult. The
roll, with the difficulty set by how careful the target is about number of successes determines the degree of effect. One
concealing his activities. A cheating paramour might be success plants doubts, five ,successes changes opinions
difficulty 7, while an akuma ot flesh-eater might be diffi- forevei;. Note that it can take dozens ofaffected vampires
culty 9. One success brings nothing but vague rumors, three to really affect a change ofopinion in the court as a whole.
bring some evidence or infouna.tion, while five conjur~s up A camp11ign of whispered slander and insj;nuation takes
anabundanceofevidence. Theseruleslargelyreflectword- months of hard effort to bring to maturation. A botch
of~mouth and documentary investigation. Use roleplaying during this time will probably make the matter into a
and the rules for Shadowing (Vampire: The MaSquerade public feud or even bring about a challenge to a duel.
p. 203) for physical investigation - breaking into a Sometimes, whispered insinuations aren't enough.
mandarin's house in an attempt to prove her akuma isn't Framing someone for a crime sne didn't commit is always
something that should be dismissed lightly. a popular way ro eliminate an enemy. It is particularly
Lying Well [Manipulation + Performance]: It is effective if she is suspected of committing that sort of
often necessary to conceal one's true feelings in court, crime but hasn't been caught yet - a process known as
particularly when so many mandarins have access to the "Speeding the Wheels." Setting the matter up is an
Discipline of Obligation. Concealing one's true feelings Intelligence + Subterfuge roll, with a difficulty equal to
from obvious scnltiny is a Manipulation + Performance the legitimacy of the victim. The-actual sting should be
roll, with a difficulty based on how startHng or intense the oleplayed out, and it is likely that many other systems will
questioning is. This is resisted by a Manipulation + Alen- be put into use in the prQCess.
...,~ One of the vampires taking part in the debare must be
Scripture and Commentaries [Intelligence + five to 10 successes up on her opponent by this time to
Academics/Linguistics]: Racher than relying on mor- have gotten the better of him, with the actual number of
ral doctrines, most Night People follow their own successes required being a function of the obscurity of the
prophets. But regardless of who speaks chem, the re, point debated. The more obscure the point, the more
corded words of the enlightened are critical to shen as successes are required to illuminate it in a favorable light.
well as to mortals. To translate scripture is an Intelli- Reading the Heavens [Perception + Portents]:
gence + Linguistics roll, with a difficulty set by the The Black Tortoise Court meets only on the nights of the
obscurity of the language the scripture is recorded in. half moon, never in the same location twice and rarely
Adjunctal texts written by a bodhisattva in the modern under a roof. The location ofthe court's next meeting can
kaja are far easier ro translate than lo t chapters of the be discerned on the night of the full moon or the new
Ki Chuan written in an ancient form of shorthand. One moon by examining the sky for half an hour. Doing so
success produces a barely adequace rranslation, full of requires the player to roll Perception + Portents (diffi-
erroneous readings and missed idioms, three successes culty?). If the astrologer is nor a WanKuei ftom the Black
produces an adequate but not extraordinary transla- T ortoise Court, the difficulty is 8. ln a feat of astrology
tion, and five successes produces a definitive transla- chat rarely fails to surprise the novice, the meeting place
tion which will stand for centuries. is nevermore thansevendays' hard ride from the location
Composing commentary on scriptures and other clas- of the last meeting place.
sical writings is a critical part of the incellecrual life of
both mortals and shen in the Middle Kingdom. Compos- ~AVOR.,S 6"D .PR.,UTA1JO..
ing commentary is an Intelligence+ Academics roll, with Wan Kuei society is an incredibly complex web of
a difficulty depending on how obscure the meaning ofthe
interlocking obligations. Though unstated, favors, honor,
text is. One success states the obvious, three successes face and personal feelings all come together t:o create the
illuminates the text for those who do not understand it, social framework of the Five August Courts and most
and five successes produces genuine insights into the other groupings of the Hungry Dead. The basics of this
thoughts of the master who authored the original text. system of favors and debts - called prestation - are
Teaching and Debate [variable): Educating the relatively straightforward. A vampire who does some-
ignorant is one of the duties of the enlightened. It 1s thing for another expecrs robe repaid in kind. Skilled
a Charisma + Leadership ro ll to teach scripture to courtiers make it their business to remember who owes
willing acolytes. The character cannot roll more dice whom, and detailed records exist in many courcs. If an
to reach rellgious matters than the lower of his Dharma owing vampire tries to ignore a debt, she looses face (and
+ Hun or Intelligence+ Academics scores. The diffi- hence status) at court and may also be subjected to dire
culty is set by the number of students the master is punishments. The G reat Principle chat traditionally
teaching, their willingness to be enlightened and how guides the courts includes the Way of Obligation, mak-
much must be unlearned before they can begin learn- ing prestation almost a state religion among the Wan
ing again. One success brings some self-understand- Kuei. To violate it is to invite grave retribution.
ing and prevents anyone from falling asleep, three
successes allow the students to gain some genuine
insight, and five successes is a masterful lecture, bring-
ing true life to a doctrine.
Also common are scriptural debates between master
theologians. lnter-Dharma debates are rare, however.
Because all the orthodox Dharmic paths are known to be
valid and because early Wan Xian society after the fall of
Meru saw a great deal of strife between the emergent
Dharmas, there is legacy ofgeneral tolerance between the
various non-heretical Roads Back. However, debates be-
cween opposing sects and schools of thought within the
Dhannas are common, and bitter rivalries often develop
around them. It is an opposed Wits + Academics roll to
debate scripture, and neither person can roll more dlce
than their Intelligence + Dhanna score. Generally, no
more than three rolls can be made over an issue before the
debate becomes repetitive.
JkooDlt~
~=--~-- __....................~..........~........--....~

with the elder. Vampires oflower status than the elder


Prestation among the Wan Kuei is similar to the must convince the majordomo to put them on the
form practiced among Camarill.a vampires in the mod~ schedule in a timely fashion. A large bribe often speeds
em era (see Guide to the Camarilla, pp. 147-149). the convincing process considerably. Storytellers can
However, thei:e are some differences. The first is that use the system for doing guanxi in the mortal world (see
prestation debt can be transferred, not just by the holder p. 113) at this stage.
of the debt, but by the debtor as well. The debtor is, If the vampire does secure an appointment, she must
however, responsible for the proper execution of the then dress appropriately for the occasion and recite the
favor. Failure on the pan of his delegate leaves the debt appropriate ritualized greetings, honorifics, titles and so
unpaid. Indeed, if the task requested to fulfill the debt forth. The costuming is often ridiculously expensive, and
was badly botched or cannot be attempted again, the the greetings can take weeks to memorize properly. Fail-
debt is likely to increase significantly. ure to perform the greetings or to wear the proper outfit is
Secondly, the value ofa debt is determined not just by quite likely to destroy any chance of the petition being
the favor but by the relative social rankings of rhe partici- accepted. When the audience proper begins, the appli-
pants. Repaying a favor between two mandarins might be cant gives the elder a significant honorarium to make up
no more than the matter ofwho provides the vessels when for the distraction she has caused him. This can be cash or
they next dine together. That same favor, asked for by a a valuable gift of some sort - gifts are preferred, but
disciple, might be the matter of a life boon. money will work in a pinch. The applicant then presents
This is one of the reasons that wu are so important. the elder with her petition, written in kaja on silk. If the
First, favors between members of a wu ar~judged on a elder chooses to accept the petition, the applicant will
different scale. You can expect a lot more from your blood- then owe him the appropriate prestation debt.
sister for a given level of debt than you can from a court Most elders hear and grant petitions from vampires
official who doesn't know you from the next running of low standing only at their leisure, and the ritual
monkey. Also, older wu-members can easily act as liai- involved is incredibly complex to the uninitiated.
sons. For example, say that a young disciple wishes ro have Generally, the vampire needs an Etiquette + Rituals
a mandarin tutor her in a Discipline. Rather than asking score equal to the greater of either the difference
the mandarin directly for a favor, the disciple would between her Dharma rating and the elder's Dharma
request that an older memberofherwu-who is probably rating. This is the minimum, and players of vampires
himself a mandarin or jina- ask the Qlandarin for her. with scores this low should be making frequent Cha-
Then, she would owe her wu-mate a small favor, and her risma or Manipulation + Etiquette or Rituals rolls to
wu-mate would owe the mandarin small favor, rather than get through the meeting without a bumble. Smooth
the disciple being in debt to the mandarin for the next social sailing generally requires scores at Least two
decade or liO- Even if there is no wu-mate of equivalent levels higher than the minimum.
rank, the highest~ranking vampire with social aptitude is As a result, younger Wan Kuei who do not have older
still the one to send because he'll get the most results with wu-mates still routinely use intermediaries of higher sta-
the smaller prestation cost. tion when they must request favors of prominent court
members. However, there are often several such interme-
SIKp(c; F'&Vo-.s ,._ow Aaow diaries, and each of them must be petitioned and given his
Not all requests can be handled by an older member honorarium. Of course, the vampire who actually wants
of the vampire's wu. Likewise there are some favors that the favor is expected to pay all expenses, particularly for
a young vampire would not dar~ let her elder family the formal garb, bribes, honorariums and so forth. Many
members know she was requesting. In these cases, the jina wise in the ways of the courts yet still on the edges of
vampire must approach her elders on her own. At this formal Wan Kuei society work as professional intermedi-
point, the matter becomes both complex and expensive. aries for Running Monkeys.
Elders are important creatures, whose time is in great There are alternatives, of course. There are always
demand. Wan Kuei oflower social standing who wish to those mandarins, either disgraced or ofquestionable com-
trouble their betters c~not simply knock on their front pet'ence, whose court no one attends. They are always
door. There are forms that must be followed to keep eager to aid someone, anyone, in order to reestablish their
matters orderly and to assure the elders' time is their own face and influence. There are also political predators and
and not that of everyone in the court who needs a favor. akuma, both always eager to gain a new pawn through the
First, a vampire who wishes to have an audience semblance of friendliness and generosity. Sometimes,
with an elder of significant station must speak with his taking a gamble with less reputable or more dangerous
doorkeeper or majordomo. This is usually one of the patrons pays off, and sometimes, it's the only alternative
eider's students or a junior member ofhis wu, but it can for a poor or desperate vampire.
be a dhampyr, bakemono, bound demon o.r occasion- This sort of thing helps explain why it is so dreadful
ally even a morta . Whoever it is', the majordomo does robe a heimi:n and why a strong wu is so critical to a
preliminary screening of those who WaI)t an audience vampire's prosperity. Just asin the mortal world, a large
119
~----------------...-,,_.--~~~~~
and prosperous family is critical to success. A young jobs or even to indirectly murder the debtor by sending
vampire alone must pay Large honorariums and use him to certain destruction. Debtors will often use students
untrustworthy middlemen. A member of a wu has all andfriendsasproxiesformenial tasks, while allies, friendly
the wu's social contacts working for him and can use elders and older wu-mates are all popular to deal with
the rank ofwu-mates as leverage. Awu which contains "suicide" missions. What is suicide for a disciple is often
a bodhisattva or ancestor is likely to have other vam- child's play for an elderly mandarin.
pires offering its members favors, in the hopes that As long as the debtor phrases his nomination of a
they'll attract the favorable attention of the elder proxy properly and remains accountable for his failures,
member with their generosity. the owning party cannot refuse the transferwithoutlosing
significant face. The Storyteller may require a Wits +
Etiquette roll to make sure the transferal is well phrased.
Among the Wan Kuei, the debtor need not be
informed of the transfer of prestation from one owning
party to another. Instead, the party calling in the favor
presents the debtor with a written note signed by the Heroic derring,do and doomed struggles are cen-
party to whom he owes prestation, authorizing the new tral facets of most hundred chapter novels and Hong
owner of the debt to call on the indebted vampire's Kong fantasy cinema. It is likely that warfare and
services in the eider's name. If the debt is transferred combat will have a central place in a Blood & Silk
again, the old owner makes a chop mark below the game as well. The following section is a guide to
signature to show that they too authorized the transfer. conflict in the Blood & Silk era. Obviously, there is a
There is a document on exhibit in Guangdong with no finite amount of space available - this section is long
less than 23 marks of transfer on it. on rules and short on atmosphere. Storytellers and
The debtor, on the other hand, can only transfer a players might want to explore the resources listed in
favor at the time it is requested. At this time, he can the Introduction's bibliography and.get a feel for com,
inform the owner of the debt that a proxy will be carrying bat of various scales in Chinese history and drama.
out the task for him. There are a number of reasons this Reading a couple of books can vastly improve one's
might happen. Prestation debt is often used in attempts to understanding of the context for these rules.
greatly distract the debtor by forcing them into menial
.lOOD $fu:..

Naginata: Japanese curve-bladed halberd, a favored


weapon of women.
The warriors of the Middle Kingdom use the full
No-Daichi: Japanese "hoi:se killer" two-handed sword.
gamut of weapons known in the West, including axes,
straight swords, spears, maces, clubs and the like. They Pellet Bow: A crossbreed of a sling and a bow, used in
also use a number of rather exotic weapons. The more hunting birds because it does not damage the meat.
normal ones are detailed briefly in the weapons charts Self Bow: A standard bow with no compound or
below. The truly exotic ones like the gunpowder recurve.
flamethrower have their own write-ups later. Storytellers War Fan: Steel fan used for cooling oneself, battle-
who want a lot of detail in their hand-to-hand combat field signaling, parrying and even attacking.
may wish to consult World of Darkness: Combat. To be Wind-Fire Wheel: Steel ring with h,andle, and
frank, if there was ever a setting where "The Big Book of sometimes with hooks, used to trap weapohs and as a
Beating Ass" was appropriate, it's this one. bludgeon. Used in pairs.
Some of the less familiar weapons in use during the
Blood & Silk period and listed on the tables below include:
Compound Bow: Favorite of the steppe-riders, this is Armor is a universal feature of ancient and medieval
a recurved bow (it is strung "backward") with horn inserts warfare. While the Middle Kingdom never develops the
(minimum Strength or Archery of 3 to string). super-heavy armors that come to dominate warfare in the
Daikyu: Asymmetrical Japanese longbow for use West, the average solider or warrior still goes into battle
from horseback. clad in body armor of some sort. The armors that.follow
Hammer (two-handed): Includes Japanese two- are deliberately abstract representations of various genres
handed war club. of protective gaanenr.s. Storytellers and players who want
Hook Sword: Martial-arts weapon with backward-curv- more precise representations reflecting the specific con-
ing tips. Used in pairs, these weapons do Strength + 3 damage struction of various armor types throughot the ages
when wielded by someone with Martial Arts 4 or more. should feel free to modify these statistics, but the included
types should suffice for general use.

tV1T~Tt Nt:A~
. . Ra~
Weapon
War Fan+ 50y~
C"udgel+ ~
Dagger (straight or curved) Su+l 100 yards
Nunchaku+ Ser +l 200 yards
Sai Sri' fl 30y~
Tonfa+ Ser +1 ~yards
Wind-Fire Wheel+ Stt +l T Corpound Bow 300 yards
Hammer (one-handed)+ Str +2 T Flame Throwert 4 yards
Hook Sword Ser +2 T Rockets 59. yards
Iron Rod+ Str +2 N ~ tU1'ft. to reload.
Katana Ser +2 T t~idtdonly once.
Scimitar Str +2 T
Staff+ Str +2 N
Straight Sword Str +2 T
Straight-Bladed Spear Str +2 N
Halberd Ser +3 N
Hammer (two-handed)+ Str +3 N
Naginata Str +3 N
No-Daichi Str +3 N
Straight Sword (two-handed) Str +3 T
War Axe (two,handed) Str +3 N
+Denotes a blunt weapon
CWna, .--a Yl&JI . , _ HuWIC @..__.._....._..___~---;..;._--:-~--
Leather: The ourfit of conscripts everywhere. A SttJHDS Al(D .P41\1t,.,,._c; W'UPOtCS
chick leather breastplate with a leather cap and shoulder, Devices for parry mg attacks can be broken into two
forearm and leg pieces. Some suits may have some small categories: shields and weapons which are specially
metalreinforcementsoverthevitalorgans,butchisequip- designed for use in parrying. The fonner covers every-
ment mostly provides moral support rather than actual thing from bucklers to large wall shields. While these
protection. This armor can also be used to represen~ the sorts of devices are known in the Middle Kingdom, they
sort of piecemeal protection worn by brigands of the less are not so commonly used there as in the West. Instead,
successful sort. more emphasis is placed on mobility and striking fim,
Light Chain: The armor the average soldier of a and parrying weapons are quite popular. Most of these,
professional army. le includes a light chain shirt, a helmet such as the sai, jitte, tonfa and wind-fire wheels, are
with neck guard, greaves and forearm protection of some bludgeons ofvarying sorts that are useful in catching and
sort, all of leather and chain. deflecting weapons.
Heavy Chain: Worn by heavy cavalry, elite foot Parrying devices can be used m two fashions, accive
soldiers and other shock troops. Heavy chain includes and passive. In their active role, parrying devices allow
a metal breastplate or reinforced chain shirt, chain the wielder to parry incoming attacks at a decreased
sleeves, a steel helmet with chain neckguard1 layered difficulty. Note that none of these items grant the
metal shoulder guards and steel greaves. This armor ability c:o automatically parry attacks - che character
provides a +4 soak versus all attacks, but subtracts one must still use defensive maneuvers to do so. Thu:;, Lhe
from the character's dexterity when it is worn. This sort player must either spend ace ions parrying (and split her
of equipage is very expensive and a sheer hell ro wear dice pool) or spend the entire tum defending. In rhe
in hot conditions. latter case, she makes as many Dextecicy + Melee rolls
Lacquered Plate: Favored by Nihonjin warriors, as necessary, subtracting one from die each successive
chis armor uses a few solid segments and many small, roll until she runs our of dice or the turn ends. Note
lacquered plates held together with silk ribbon to pro- chat it is not generally possible to use parrying items to
vide both flexibility and protection from slashing weap- block missile attacks, but in certain circumstances
ons. It is a comment on both the Japanese mentality and (cast spears, chi flames and similar slow attacks) it may
the armor's protective capabilities that the fearsome be possible. This is left to the Storyteller's discretion.
helmets made to accompany suits of lacquered plate (See Vampire: The Masquerade, p. 210 for more on
have a hole in the top, so the wearer's soul can fly to defensive maneuvers and parrying.)
Heaven immediately after his death. To cut down on Parrying equ1pmenc in a passive role simply adds ro
weight, most of these suits of armor lace across the back the difflculcy of attacking a character. This doesn't
- if attacked from the rear or by someone who can beat require an action and represents the character simply
them in an opposed Wits+ Ride roll (ifon horseback), holding her sh~eld or weapon in such a way as to make
the armor provides no protection. hitting her more Jifficulr. Most items have differing
122 a&.ooD It SfU:..
F @
scores for mi ilc and melee defense - shields Large If the combat 1s taking place on a chaotic battlefield
enough co provide adequate protection from bow or or on especially difficult ground, the Storyteller should
crossbow fire are generally coo large to maneuver easily have the player split her dice pool to include a Wits +
in combat without special harnesses largely unknown in Ride roll to stay in the saddle and keep control of h er
rhe Middle Kingdom. mount. The difficulty of this roll is set by the degree to
These icems do not provide both an active and a passive which the horse has been trained for battle and the local
defense at the same time. A defensive weapon can either be environment. Fighting on rough ground would be diffi
used to actively parry attacb or to passively defend culty 6, whtle trying to contcol an untrained ho rse on a
against them, but noc both. The defender can choose battlefield full ofsmoke, blood and the shrieks ofwounded
which son of defense the weapon offers on a per-attack an unals (all panic signals for naturally skittish herbi
basis, so it still offers some protection when her dice pool vores) would be difficulty 9, at least!
is exhau ted, but the player must choose before the dice
are rolled for the attack. r~LJICc;
Ho rses weigh a great deal and are weapons in and
Mo0"11D CoHll.l.T of themselves. While untrained animals are reluctant
The horse is critical to Chinese warfare. The steppe- to step on anything, h orses can be trained to step on or
dwelling nomads who are a perennial threat to the Middle kick targets. Players roll Manipulation + Ride as the
Kingdom are universally master horsemen. The Chinese attack roll when their characters use their h orses co
also have large contingents of horsemen, as cavalry forma t rample. Damage inflicted by a trample is 6 or 7 dice
t1ons and in the persons ofu hard-riding pascal service and (depending on the size of the h orse) plus successes.
the Robin Hood-like "knights" or "cavaliers" who patrol Tramples can be dodged with Dexterity + Dodge but
remote or lawless areas, often leading bands of freedom- cannot be parried unless the character is significantly
loving rebels in times of tyranny. larger than human size.
The most basic rule for mounted combat is that a There is a reason that tramples are not incredibly
character cannot have a combat Ability higher than her common - the risk involved. Failing a aampling roll
Ride Ability. If the combat Ability is higher than her leaves an enemy in a position that gives him an excellcnc
Ride, use her Ride score instead. Using the lance or shot at che horse's belly, and botching such a roll is likely
mounted bow from horseback are special exceptions to co leave the character thrown or underneath a panicked
this rule and are detailed below. horse wirh a broken leg.
@~~
Lances are long spear,like weapons designed to be Marcial arts are a relatively recent development in
used from horseback. The wielder braces himself in his the B lood & Silk era, and kung,fu has nor reached
stirrups, holds the lance under one arm and strikes his nearly che elaborate heights it will achieve in later
target at any pace between a canter and a full gallop. centuries. This section on Marcial Arcs deals with
This causes the lance to strike with the force of the horse characters who know these simple combat styles. Ob,
and the rider behind it. viously, Storytellers may wane to ignore the hiscorical
Contrary to popular opinion and European touma, facts - a lot of Asian cinema cerrainly has. In that
mcnt practice, lances are generally not used against case, just use the Martial Arts rules in Kindred of the
mounted opponents but against foot troops who have East and the K indt ed of the East Companion. As
broken formation and are either routing or attempting always, Storytellers who want more elaborate combat
co rally. Lancers can ride down with casual ease a than the basic Storyteller system provides - with a
footman attempting to stand alone. In combat against particular emphasis on martial arts mayhem - should
mounced opponenrs, the lance is typically either put see if World of Darkness: Combat is what they're
aside (usually by sticking it into the ground point,first so Looking for. Keep in mind that, in the Dragon Dance
it can be retrieved later) or used in jabbing strikes. (Yang Prana },the Wan Xian have a combat style
Lances do eight dice of lethal damage + successes more effective than almost anything mortals can hope
when used from a gallop. Strength does not add to this to learn.
damage, but characters with the Huge Size Merit do an In the Blood & Silk era, there are no hard or soft
additional two dice of damage - one die for their own styles-all Mattial Arts attacks use the same difficulty
bulk and an additional die to represent the added mass table {see below). Likewise, a limited number of special
of a horse large enough ro carry them. Those struck must maneuvets are available. As in the Kindred of the E ast
make a Strength + Arhletics check, difficulty 4 + (the C ompanion, characters gain one special maneuver
number of successes on rhe attacker's damage roll), or be when they purchase their first dot of Martial Arts and
knocked down and at +2 difficulty on all rolls for the an additional special maneuver with each dot of Mar,
next round as a result of the stunning impact. Vampires tial Arts above three. The available special maneuvers
treat lance damage as bashing (it is almost entirely are as follows:
piercing} but may still be knocked down and stunned, Kindred Of TheEast: CounterThrow, Mantis Strike,
and permanently Yang,imbalanced vampires may be Damaging Block, Dragon T ail Sweep, Elbow Strike
staked, though this would require special effort and
Kindred Of The East Companion : Ground Fight#
knowledge, as the lance is generally pulled out of the
ing, Killing Blows, Cataleptic Grapple, Push Hands,
target immediately.
Reactive Strike
A character must have a minimum Ride and Melee of As t~me goes by~ the Story eeller should allow charac,
3 each to be able to use a lance effectively from hm:seback. ters interested in mortal martial artS to relearn their
Otherwise, he is certain to dismount him.selfon a successful martial arts skills in che modem mold, probably at a
attack - the character takes as many dice of bashing
discount of some sort.
damage as he inflicted dice oflethal damage with his lance.
A botch using a lance is generally a terrible thing: The
character takes four dice oflethal damage and may fall off
his horse (roll Stamina+ Ride}. Use of a lance is punishing
business-characrers with the Small or Child Merits, who
have Stamina 1 or who are otherwise below,average size
cannot use a mounted lance.

NoUl(nD .BoW's
The useofthe bow from horseback is a trademark ofthe
steppe,awelling nomads who form a constant threat to the
Middle Kingdom. Accurate bow fire from a moving horse
is exceedingly difficult - a single inch in error at the bow The arsenals of the Middle Kingdom feature some
will cause the arrow to miss the target by tens offeet. Unless truly terrifying weapons, including what can only be
che character has the Archery specialty "Mounted," his called military explosives. While few Wan Kuei directly
shots are ac + 2 difficult from a moving horse and at +4 wield such terrifying an;ns, demon hunte~ and other
difficulty from a horse moving at a trot or faster. Note that mortal opponents do.
the average sceppe,horseman has Archery and Ride high
enough to have specialties.
.----------..-~~.o.ii-----@
9'.EPEA1J14.c; ~ossaoW's
~ BLOOD . SJu:,
of a burning flamethrower is occasion for an immediate
The repeating crossbow is an unusual weapon con, wave soul roll in Wan Kuei. Actually using one forces the
sisting ofa small crossbow with a cocking lever on the top vampire to make the wave soul roll with the Hun facing
rear and a vertical hopper for bolts. The weapon is fired by a +2 difficulty penalty. These weapons are almost as
pumping the cocking lever, which draws back and releases dangerous to the user as to the target. If the tube cracks,
the string. Each pump of the lever fires a single unfletched bursts 6r bums through, the wielder will be exposed to
bolt, with the magazine typically containing between six searing flame and, possibly, a small explosion. If the user
and 10 such bolts. The repeating crossbow is not particu, botches, apply between six and 12 dice of damage -
larly accurate or damaging past the range off a spearcast, lethal to mortals, aggravated to most shen.
and the bolts are too light and slow to do significant injury
"OCQIS
unless one happens to hit an eye. However, a rapid volley
of poisoned darts can help a single man win through a The Chinese invention of black powder led to the use
press, or allow a squad of men to turn back a larger force. of rockets for entertainment, communication and mili-
tary operations. Firecrackers and small fireworks,type
Treat repeating crossbows as if they were modem
rockets (which can weigh as much as several pounds) are
semi,automatic-weapons, with a Rate of 6 and the ability
popular with demon hunters.Vampires who are the target
to fire three,round bursts. The repeating crossbow uses
of a string of firecrackers or a rocket must make an
the Archery skill but is not covered by a specialization in
immediatewavesoulcheck, and a vampire who is actually
crossbows; while the mechanism is similar, the weapon is
hit by a display or signal rocket will probably take a die or
used in a completely different fashion. Repeating,cross,
two of aggravated damage.
bo~ bolts have a base damage of 2 and are almost always
poisoned. If a bolt inflicts rnore damage than th,e target's Military rockets are significantly larger, designed to
be fired at cities or battlefield formations. They have no
armor soaks, this poison has its effect. Poisons of the
Mi?dle Kingdom are frequently infectious agents (during warhead per se, but these bamboo weapons impact going
over 100 miles an ho ur. Anyone so unfortunate as to be hit
a siege, they might be dipped in the feces of cholera or
dysentery victims, for example) or distilled fish or snake by one takes 12 dice of lethal damage, and those nearby
venoms. Mortals hit with an infectious bolt must make a are likely to be splashed by burning gunpowder - all
Stamina roll (difficulty 9) once per bolt, with failure within 10 feet must make a Dexterity + Dodge roll, taking
(6, successes) dice of lethal damage. Rocket damage is
indicating they have contracted whatever illness the bolt
was prepared with - usually amounting to a slow and largely due to heat and is thus aggravated when applied to
vampires. More useful than the damage they cause are the
miserable death. Permanently Yang,imbalanced vam,
secondary effects of the rocket. A barrage of rockets fired
pires must likewise make this roll, though they will prob-
into a city under siege is likely to ignite dozens offires, and
ably just be discommoded by the illness.
h orses are often panicked by these weapons. Those on
Envenomed bolts likewise require a Stamina check,
horseback near the impact zone of a rocket barrage must
with a difficulty of between 6 and 9 depending on the
make an Wits+ Ride roll (difficulty 8) or lose control of
strength of the poison. Failure generally causes either
their mounts as they becomes terrified by the sounds and
several heal th levels ofdamage or death. Wan Kuei_struck
smells of the rocket attack.
by envenomed bolts take no additional damage: As undead
beings, they are immune to all non,supematural toxins. The building and firing of rockets is covered by the
Crafts (Rocketry) Skill. Rockets are area weapons, de,
~OW'".S signed to be fired at cities or masses of troops, not individu,
The Chinese were the first to use the flamethrower als. Short range attacks are made at difficulty 9, and attacks
in warfare. This one,use weapon is a long, reinforced against individuals at ranges longer than 50 or so yards are
bamboo tube filled with g unpowder and other easily dodged (no roll necessary if they see the weapon).
inflammables. When lit, a tongue of searing flame
shoots 10 or more feet from the mouth for several D;"KT;Ot{ AN_D D~
seconds. Obviously, this weapon is of tremendous in, W an Kuei of the Fourth Age have a more formal
terest to demon hunters stalking feral chih,mei and interpretation of direction than theiT successors in the
other Wan Kuei, and there are rumors that it was first Fifth Age. More than a matter of astrology, direction is
developed as a secret weapon by alchemists in the related to the fate of the dynasty the Hungry Dead are
employ of the Shih.
associated with. For the powerful ancestors of the
Flamethrowers burn for one round, inflicting a base Court of the Yellow Emperor, this is the Southern Song
eight dice of fire damage to the target. They are aimed of China, but the "dynasty" need not be political.
using the wielder's Dexterity + Archery or Athletics Whatever endeavor a Wan Kuei is attached to- the
score, whichever is higher - no one uses these weapons pursuit of an enemy, the guardianship ofa region - can
enough for a special skill in doing so to develop. The serve as their dynasty. Their direction helps determine
wielder can sweep the weapon across several targets if the what role they play in its fate.
player splits her die pool or uses extra actions. The sight
~~"'Ar~~ ~. . . . . ........ -. .- ............._.......
__..~--'":----:0::-'--~
.8f"'9t ,.. v.~H Sount DE-Ant- ,.. V,u: Sount
In the midst ofchaos and wickedness, Heavenchooses Thecycleofrecovecymaytakeplaceanynumbcrofcimes,
a worthy individual to receive its mandate. That person, but inevitably, all institutions fail. Predators threaten the
whatever his or her situation, must rise to the challenge of people from inside and outside the empire, and now, defenders
restoring order and virtue to the land. When the possessor are too few to keep the masses safe. In the end, the only cure
of the mandate succeeds in uniting all under Heaven, a is the death of the dynasty. A time of chaos ensues until
new dynasty begins. Wan Kuei recognize this step as the someone new earns Heaven's mandate. South-directed Wan
distinctive calling of their kind aligned toward the south. Kuei again play important roles: They purge the wicked,
slicing away comiptioo and deceit to enable those who still
c;~oW'nt ,.. ~OWEtUR: 1-ur seek wisdom at least some chance at personal reward.
The founder's successors extend his triumphs. On the
imperial scale, the new emperors perform the great duties:
reform of taxation, repair and maintenance of public ~~ ....."' ...~._,.,
~ w..,,
works and rectification of names. (In times of wickedness,
the language itself becomes a tool of oppression and ~W-aill:Kuel of the Fourth Age beli,eve that they
deceit, and the rectification of names marks a return to enr rolls at different times in the
concern for the truth.) This step calls for the efforts of er"dynasty" they associate rhcm-
east-facing Wan Kuei concerned with and prepared to the d~ascy goes through diffcnnt
enmesh themselves in the coil of mortal society. ---~.~~- dictate that one t/I its unliving
f,Jl~-mt.IMI sometimes change himselfto march it
Nau~ S1ccus: VINT s Just 8Uch a transformat:too, as
The strong empire flourishes. Barbarians come to pay rs before his wu and the officials
cribute, while rebels cower and surrender in the face of f'l!~:Odrt mest a fomrnl diange ornirection.
worthy guardians of the people. Whereas the preceding ffle is bodtaisocial and magical one. /\s rhc
steps often called for wars against organized opposition, the 8~ makes 'Ii very formal cncrcaty to his fellows,
people now pursue their 10,000 goals, 1.,1nited in the har- tiecte~and the August Personage, his astrological
mony of good government and moral society. West-facing .,_,,..,,.....ment actually shifts ai; different constellauon.s
Wan l<uei seek to preser:ve the prosperity of this step by shme on his'fate.
renewed fidelity co the spirits and ancestors. The spirits S~: This rite requires a formal gathering of
offer up the advice of past cycles on what went wrong, so the colit, with at le3St one mandarin in attendance.
that perhaps chis time people can avoid those mistakes. The ~idate presents a text explaining in com~l
lihgly p~ detail the re~n:; whfo a change m hts
TU~c; ,..W&lt,D: Co(mt.
irectton is~ Doing SOTequires the player to
As the people become assured of good living and take 11 Wiu + Fjftuette (difficulty 7). The qndarin
it for granted, they tum inward toward more personal hearingthe ~ition asks questions of;he V$npirc to
pursuits. Done rightly, the search for individual perfection
test, J:he val~ty of his claims. To. represent r.his
strengthens the community with living examples of virtue ~Q,uestioning, the Storyteller may roll any number of
in action. Done wrongly, it leads to narcissism, self-indul.- _jice up to the ld8ndarm's Perception + Portents
gence and dynastic weakness. This is the step at which (di(ficulty 7); *h success subtracts :from the
center-bound Wan Kuei at lase come into their own.
~r~~,.ra.us, a !>-ympathetic manJann
Enlightenment flourishes on the foundation laid by others. by ukpnlyr quc:;cions, while one actively
9'KOV0, OF v.~H ...0 .... ~to ti\~ matter may try to punch gapmg holes
ji)to the young vampire's petition.
A single righteous leader may summon an unwilling
people back to virtue; likewise, a concerned people may Assuming tflc;rc are succcsse$ left after the inter-
demand of their leaders a renewed fidelity. Whether jf)gation; ~~t!1..k An ancagonisric manda-
reform comes from above or below, the mandateofHeaven nndifulot ~-~tion hccannotdeflate thn)ugh
rerurns to a dynasty when che emperor and people again ""'*tioning widiQur losing~ The vampire irome
seek the Way. Northern WanKuei play an important part ...liately chanjef.itf.s direcuon w whichever one he
n:guesced. ~change lasts for a rnim&r of lunar
in this step, since they have personal connections to the
past as well as a wealth oflore chat mortals may attain. The months equal todae player's final net successes; f1\'C
or more net successes cause a permanent:sfnft.
people listen co remindecs of old wisdom, recognizing in
it the foundation of future as well as past success.
Many aspects of Storytelling for the Wan Kuei don't
change from one age to the next. Before running a Blood
& Silk chromclc, take the time to review Chapter Seven
of Kindred of the East. The material below covers the
problems and opportumcies unique to the FourthAge and S6mepartsof~ian sociecycharige very litcle rhrough-
how co handle them in your chronicle. ouc the centuries of the late Fourth Age. Each of the
following sections provides you with some generalizations
SEn;'tc; THE ScotE- on life at the time, to help you p6rtray these major
settings. They also provcde a series of vignetces, ,quick
You've decided to undertake a Blood & Silk chronicle.
scenes char you can use as ready-made story seeds or
Your players like the idea of playing in a different part of
simply as a source of further insight.
the World of Darkness, removed in both time and space
from the usual setting. Everyone's willing to make the Cmu &l(D VJU.AC;H
effort to play in another culture. How do you help your
Except in the immediate aftermath of war, plague and
pl;iyers (and yourself) gee a feel for the setting? other disasters, settlements of all sizes are crowded. People
lt helps to do a little study of the time.and place you swarm the streets on their variow errands. Soda Idistinc-
choose to stare your chronicle. You don't have to do tions manifest themselves at every tum. Peasants defer to
homework - nobody's going co come around and make soldiers and merchants, often with a show of contempt
you take a test. It's just that the more you know, the more along with fear or envy. Everyone gets out of the way of
you can improvise. Playersalways think ofsomething you rich people and officials. Within each class, finer grada-
dido't, and you should feel confident in your ability co tions emerge. Low-ranking bureaucrats yield to their
cover the plot holes. The better a "feel" you can get for the superiors, and thiS' often means old men who lacked the
setting, the better off you'll be. Keep in mind, however, right connections yielding co young men who had better
chat fhis 1s a game about vampires, not a high school fottUne. The tlesofch1ldren to parents and th~irexcended
history project.
8looD It $Ju:.
?I'" @
families show when responsible adults try to round up some part of the annual farming cycle. Whatever the
their variow; (and ac times wayward) charges. occasion, it lets the characters see townspeople at their
Srr.mgers selJom find much in the way ofwelcome. In best ... and lees unscrupulous people examine the rest of
small villages, most of the people are related, one way or the town unseen by anyone except the aged and infirm,
another, and strangers immediately stand out. Children who cannot take part in the festivities.
gather co stare at them uncil the local civil authorities After a character bungles some social interaction
arrive to demand information about rhesuangers' identi- witb local officials, let her allies study the situation.
ties and business. In otg cities, people simply ignore the Observation (and perhaps Disciplines) Leads to the tn
strangers, unless local conruvers see a chance for profit (be sight that the current magistrate is of lower social stand-
it honest or not). ing than hrs ~crerary, who used to be the magistrate
Peasants build with whatever materials near at hand: until getting demoted for some offense. The offending
wood, mud and stone, most'commonly. Keep in mind that character stumbled unawares inco a tangled knot, which
long-settled areas often lose all theLC native forests and might be untted to the advantage of the wu. Keep in
that, thereafter, wood building are marks of status. All mind that the network of mortal obligations ls as com-
but the very poorest family homes consist of a square or plex as the Wan Kuci prestation system and includes
rectangle ofbuildings set around an interior courtyard. A many more panicipants.
blank or nearly blank wall faces the public street; the The characters find a town being dismantled.
famUy's personal affairs go on at a bit of remove. City !fhere' been one roo many wars, famines or floods (or
dwellers build larger, more permanent-structures-often perhaps all three) and other calamities as well. Three
relying on stone quarried some distance away from the generations of the town's families drag their precious
city. City homes and businesses sometimes rise two or possessions, weepmg and wailing over what they must
three stories above ground level. leave behind. Sometimes a governor imposes abandon-
Some cities and cowns are very clean, when t.lie menr as punishment for a town's misdeeds. Do the
people and authoriries care about it. Others are JUStTilthy. characters s7mpathi2e with the beleaguered innocents r
A dirty village often signifies trouble - some local Dothecharactcrsapproveofrigbteousjusnceintheface
circumstance makes people feel uncenain that it's worth of manifest wickedness? Do the characters try co steer
theefforrcoclean up. Chinese and otherciviliredpeoples clear and risk offendmg any watching ancestors or get
tend to see all barbanansectlemenrsasd.irty, whether they involved and risk offending che mortal bureaucracy
actually are or not. through some inadvertent slight?
Vignettes of City and Village Life: FAiOG
A small shrine on the road carries a sign with the
name of the next cown. Plaques commemorate honors
Many people must laoor in the fields to support
given to inhabitants of the cown and usually (but not themselves and the cHy folk. Rice is a staple crop every,
where there's enough water for it, but its cultivation
al ways) identify high;ranking officials. The guatdianspirit
or god of the town receives acrifices here. requires an enormous amount oflabor. The rice sprouts in
specially tended beds. Laborers use mattocks and plows to
The town cemetery occupies a hill a few minutes'
break up the ground of the rice paddies, then flood thent,
walk away-an artificial mound, if the surrounding land
Women transplant the seedlings to the draining paddies.
is flar. Are the graves well-tended? Have families been
This is scoop labor and contributes to early back failure. It
performing the proper rites to honor their ancestorsrWan
cakes a day' labor (or even more) to plane rows longer
Kue1 can see the ghosts. Do they seem content, or do they
than the woman is call. The whole town rums out during
have complaints? If rhe ghosts do complain, are their
these crmaal days to get the paddies seeded.
obiecrions serious, or 1s 1t just the whining of bored souls
seeking omething to fill the time?
The rice then grows for three months (more or less
depending on how favorable the local climate is). At
One of the characters demonstrates a supernatural
harvest time, women and men use knives to cut the nee
power. Nobody visibly recoils (unless the power as oveftly
st:alk&.Bundles ofstalks go co the threshers, who grind the
destructive}, but bystanders find reasons co be elsewhere
stalks to let the heavy seeds fall and die lighter chaff blow
- immcdtately and in all future encounters with the
away. Harvesting reqwres the whole village's effort. JUSt
uncouth stranger. Thereafter, that chru;acter and any-
like planting; a few days' error can lead to the loss of much
one known as his associate faces a+ l or greater difficulty
of a crop. Once threshed. the nee dries for a few days.
penalty on social interactions, unless somehow he can
Millers then pound the grains ro split open the brown
earn back the favor of the townspeople.
hulls and extract the white rice within. More pounding
The characters find the outskirts of town deserted. produces rice flour.
There's a festival going on in the center of town. It might
Most parts of the Middle Kingdom produce a single
honor the birthday of a prominent inhabitant of the
rice crop. Very rainy and warm are.as get two crops per
town, celebrate some great event in the town's history
year. (Some exceptionally fertile areas get three, at a
(like viccory over invaders) or mark the completion of
ferocious co c in labor.) In berween crops, villagers must
~ Pfw: T'A&H or~
~....:._,....~----------..._-- ... _.-----------~----~----~--_,._..~~~~~~~
maintain the imgarion S}'Stems that keep the pacldi~
129

moist and must store ana spread fertilizer regularly. Pad


dies must be level, and claiming new paddies out of hilly
land requires constructing terraces. There's never much
time off for rice growers.
Disrupting chi cyde at any pomt means losing some.
or all of the harvest. Ohly the most thoroughly callous
bngandS do thac. Mosr banditry rakes place m the weeks
after hcirvest, when the bandits can claim their share of
the new rice grains. In countries so full ofpeople, it's easier
to find more laborers than it is to get more land under
cultivation, and only areat magic can repair a crop once
damagai along the way.
Other crops aleo grow, everythmg ftom wheat to silk.
Rice is the universal crop, however, thebnethacformany
philosoph ers marks the presence of civilized h umanity.
Vignettes of Farm Life:
While on some other mission, the wu finds devas-
tated nee paddies: dikes broken, fields polluted, no one
working. It's either planting or harvesting ame, one of
chose critical moments when the work mtmt get done.
Without help, die villagers will die. Do the characters
help? ls it a iust puni. hmentor an evil warranting Heaven's
wrath? Where ts ducy whe:asuffering calls? Do the charac
ers even care about mortal pain and starvation?
The wu pas~ a senes of healthy frelds on tts way
co the next town. Many opportuniries for small encoun-
ters anse along the way. Farmers often work before dawn
and after sunset. Children tend the gates of ~arion
yscems. I r's a standard of romanttc stones for .a pas.sing
~er co fall in love with a beautiful maiden wOrking
the fields; creatures as driven as the Wan Kuei may
well fulfill the dicp~ - at least until their monstrous
nature comes to the fore.

In "ome pares of the Fourth Age Middle KihgdOm,


wilderness presses Close, such as m the mountain~ of
japan and Korea. In others, it's far from anywhere rhc-
characcers might go. Almost all of eastern China, for
msrance, has been settled for hundreds or thousands Of
years, and the landscape lS altogether tame. Wherever
che land JS Wtld, l no}ds a combined fascination and
terror for c1v1lized moruls.
Chinese-influenced notions of "wilderness" usually
feature mountajns. The steep-sloped, round-copped
mountains of Chinese painting aren't JUSt stylized -
they really exist high up the great river valleys. Beyond
them, the Himalayas, Tien Shan and other moumam
ranges separate the Middle Kingdom from the barbarian
world beyond. The peak&hold the ruins of ancient cities,
h'Uman and otherwise, and a wide variety ofmonsters, in
addition to the purely natural terrors of desolation,
exposure and the hke.
.
~~~rl~~~~~---....,,
' ;
____ . -
...,ililom__________________ .,....~

' 9
~~holdfewer monsters, butthe things that rise gence. Wan Kuei in an isolated region can ser them-
.fr9 p w~ant all the dread they inspire. In selves up as veritable gods and feed dark passions for
the ~eas mark a boundary as strongly as the years on end before justice comes, if it ever does. ln
mooo ins do. Exploration seldom occurs to leaders influ- the face of such license, the great courts intensify
enced by the Chinese classics and their counterparts in their demands for conformity. The extremes feed
other kingdoms. None of the great philosophies place each other. In the end, these tensions help set the
value on the search for novelty; whatever1s worthwhile is scene for later tragedies.
at,handouhould be.So, the h6rizo.nforms a barrierrather .J..I
~ than a challenge to surmount. T'l\ADfYJOl4 VEJ\SUS litnV W DS
Vignettes for th.e .Wilderness: Any chronicle featuring innovative ideas in the
., r . . -
~ M~rcbants or pilgrims known to the WU find a Fourth Age likely includes crossovers with Western
small pile of bones and tattered belongings in a narrow mortals and shen; there's little in the way of deliberate
/ mountain pas~. Do the c haracters mvestigate.
f 1W
ere the social innovation in China and the surrounding lands,
' ,predators mortal banditsorsomethingmoreformidable? only improvisation in the face of hardships. Asian
D l sp\,rlts in the !lrea demand attention? tradition says that anything of value was originally
~--~
1
rm blows. and the h. arsh weath er lOrces
c
th e discovered by the ancient sages, to whom all others
-r to seek shelter. An old hermir dwells in this compare unfavorably. A Westerner with a valuable
,~~;; ;'.__ area, somewhere; the-characters eventually find his cave technique or idea can scarcely have invented it hun-
or cliff-perched temple. He refuses to let them in unless self. Either it's the descendant of an onginal Asian
version, or it's a novelcy of less value than it seems. The
they can convince him that their task is a worthy on e.
Can he detect lies? What does he consider worthy? notion that outsiders really bring tools that Asians
Many old hermits are just what they seem _ solitary must take seriously won't settle in for centuries yet.
men and women of advanced years_ bur some are The major clashes in the Fourth Age pit existing
substantially more. The world of Blood & Silk holds philosophies against each other. Should the emperor
many sorts of shen who may not advertise their presence. sponsor a scholarlY effort ro produce a new grand
Nor should any Wan Kuei underestimate the power of a synthes1s of Confucian ideas so that he may govern
mortal dri.ven by True Faith. more virtuously, or should he embrace the Legalistic
The characters cross~ ancient battleground in view of arbitrary and constructed law? Should a new
some distant desert, where an oasis once brought :war settlement on the frontier carry its inhabitants' old
bands together for control of a trade route. While shrines or adopt the gods of the new land? Should
studying the remains of the fallen, they sll.ddenly con- military governors impose the conquerors' ways on
front one'Or more chih~mei, who recognize in the Wan their subject people, or should the subjects be left to
Kuei something of kinship. What is the-characters' their ignorance, unfit for anything better? These are
the issues that divide the mortals and shen who debate
obligation to these unfortunates, returned to the world
how to rule.
in such a barren spot?
c;8'0UP VEll\SUS jl(DMDUAL.
Fourth Age Wan Kuei can exercise temporal power
Some of the themes presented in Kindred of the East over mortals, ifthey so choose. All the major philosophies
take on different features in the Fol.lrth Age environment and folk religions make allowances for rulers in "unusual"
of Blood & Silk. Here, we survey them and present some circumstances. Mortal assistants help cover their superi-
themes distinctive to this era. oi:s' iafioni ties, monvated by anything from sdfish power-
lust to the belief that the Wan Kuei really do rule better
. . . '(a VEJ\SUS , ......... than mortals. So, the question of whether co take part in
The Wan Kuei of the Foutth Agehave a somewhat society, as oneself or in disguise, or to opt out for solitary
easiei;_ time maintaining internal harmony than their pursuits is one with meamngful consequences.
successors of the Fifth Age. They face, if anything, The courts do not uirecdy engage in mortal leader-
greater temptations to stasis and mental ossification, ship, but the ancestors advise Wan Kuei who choose to
because the societies they live in haven1t yet collapsed take up power. The risks are formidable; 1t's very difficult
under the weight of outside pressures. The emperor to make Dharmic progress in the midst of the clamor of
maintains order much of ~he time, ana the institutions mortal concerns. On the other hand, some Dharmic
that preserve tradition function as well as ever. The steps can't be taken in isolation, either. Hermits as well
great court purges and the formation of the Quincunx lie as kings face stasis if they bind themselves too tightly to
l.n the future ofBlood & Silk, appearing only as disturb- one social role.
ing dreams for. the prophetic. Characters who choose to participate in mortal
The prevailing mortal acceptance of the supe r- institutions face few of the threats later eras present. The
natural allows Wan Kuei more latitude for self-indul- Shih and other potential hunters strike only when they

"' . . .
~ FM: T.wt o~Sfu:. 131
a

see horrendous abuse of supernatural advantages. Folk


(!;)---------------...--.......------~~~__,
theirexistencebecausetheymustandsimplychoosenor
tales prepare people, wtth accounts of kings and priesr.s to dwell on what it implies. Vigorous denial encourages
who come from the mysterious realms beyond the world. Wan Kuei to become new devil lords, while more pas-
Unfortunarely, most such inhuman rulers eventually sivedenial leaves WanKuei open to the manipulations
come to a bad end, as pride and carelessness sec them up of their more driven kin. On the other hand, overzealous
for a final fall. Sufficiendy self-critical Wan Kuei with- acceptance ofthe notion of karmic debt makes it easy for
draw from power when they detect the early signs of self- Wan Kuei to decide that anything and everyrhing goes
deception, bur more or less by definition, it's hard co m pursutc of cheir respective destinies. The Yama Kings
nottce one's own blindness. Nor do criticisms from their feast richly on the suffering thal all rhese various sortS of
fellow vampires necessarily help, as there's always worn fools create.
to attribute a warning to jealousy or ambition rather Is there a hope in Heaven, Earth or Hell for the Wan
than legitimate concern. Dharmic enlightenment is Kue1? Yes. Enlighcenment js real. Mastery overone'rnwn
ultimately focused on the self and largely incompatible limitations and progress toward the truth can happen. But
with day-to-day rule. the toad is so long and so hard, and so many stumble on
It's actually easier co hold power in mortal society it. Out of the gap between possibility and likely reality,
than to try to blend in as just another person. In time, all tragedy springs.
Wl:Ul Kuei reveal themselves, deliberately or acciden
tally. Bystanders are more likely co regard a vampire ~ ....D c;9'1Amt.
hidden among them as out to do them harm chan if the All the societies of the Fourth Age accept a social
vampire openly acknowledges her special status and hierarchy in which leadership ts a matter of moral truth
seeks their obedience. A righteous vampu:e, after all, as well as poliucal expedience. Princes prevail because
may make a formidable magistrate, executing her own Heaven wills that lesser souls submit co greater. Only
sentences in addition to using her powers to fertet out lunatics and visionaries suggest otherwise, and society
the truth. A dedicated vampire priest has the unique rejects them both. Wan Kuei participate in their own
advantage of being able to go speak with the spirits in hierarchy as well as the social pyramids that order
ilie1r native lands. These things are strange but not mo real life.
necessarily fearsome in the way thac a deliberately con- In theory, the Wan Kuei courts all elevate the most
ceal mg "average" life is. perceptive, most spiritually advanced vampires to po-
sitibns of leadership. In practice, corruption takes its
"EDEMPIJOt( Vft\SUS D~tt toll. Ambitious schemers win che places that nghtfuUy
The Wan Kuei stand poised on the brink of redemp- belong to less brutal or dnven vampires. Once estab-
rion or damnar?on and scarcely realize the full dimen- lished, a single morally dim leader can advance many
sions of their situation. After millennia of labor, they cronies. At the end of rhe Fourth Age, this happens
pas e5s reliable guides to conquering their inner weak- repeatedly, with one whole court falling into darkness.
nessc:; and earning Heaven'sfavor. The societies around Along the. way, petty injustices accumulate in suffi-
them receive them with few questions. As their predc cienr number to help smash all the anc1enr courts, in
cessors did long ago, they prepare to ross it all away in varying degree.
indulgence. This is a time when the Wheel of the Ages Playing rhc game of Wan Kuei politics cakes care.
could roll one way or another, and the Wan Kuei Young vampires who think cliat a good line of patter
collectively help steer the world toward sorrow. and a few impresstve shows of Chi will win them htgh
Is the Cycle of the Ages foredoomed? Can it be status face harsh correction. Clever schemers need to
changed? Sages argue the matter, and in the face of the start by identifying elders willing to put morally flex-
August Personage' silence, there's no way to know for ible students to use and then gradually carve out a
ure. Fate lS surely a convenientjustification for one's own niche for che~lves. Remember that some vampires
failures. Yet fate demonstrably does exist, pushing souls of see very clearly indeed and that a purge may begin at
all sorr.s in accordance with directives the participants any moment. Would-be schemers must stand ready to
may never know. account for their actions. Keep in mind that one of the
Karmic debt brmgs Wan Kuei back into the world. best explanations is the truth; doing some genuine
Karmic debt drives them to acrs of blindness and co good deeds and helping advance the grand march of
enltghcenment. It should be dear and obvious what to do the Wan Kuei toward perfect harmony and ma,;tery
and what ro refrain from doing, butfew Wan Kuei ever gee covers a multitude of sins.
1t nght. The sun has rotted away the corpses of many
vampires who came to take their pwn wi IL as the sole guide
,...,. ru.,.,..c;
&.;1
to proper conduct. They chose their damnation or at least The exact turning of the Age is deliberately vague
refused their salvation. - it is only in retrospect that the key events in rhe
Many Wan Kuei, having faced the truth of Hell change will become clear. As Storyteller, this gives you
once, prefer not to face it again. They accept the fact of the leeway co determine dates chat best suic your
,.
-! @
chronicle. The Age may change in 1197 itself or not for
centuries. It may be a sudden shift or a progressive affair
with certain courts (or individuals) "debasing" them-
selves long before others. Once you have a date in mind,
of course, wrap the truth in as many Layers of in-charac-
ter speculation and dissension as you can muster. The
players should never be certain about such things - at
le~t not until far into the- chronicle.
A chronicle focused on the change of the Age
should evoke a certain fatalism. Ch&racters face the
tangible fact th.at the wodd drifts ever further from its
creator's dream ofharmony. Whether they embrace the
darkness themselves or try to hold it off, there can be
little question that the bottom of the Cycle of history
draws near. Whatever victories the characters win for
enlightenment, larger failures loom.
The characters may be among the few voices of
wisdom in a corrupt and decaying court. They may be
part of a coui:t where the ancient truths still earn
respect and stand alongside ancient vampires against
encroaching horrors. They may try to step away from
Wan Kuei society to promote their goals, wicked or
otherwise, among mortals. The changing Age affects
them all. The world's decline will, sooner or later,
reach inside to change their own ~ouls, as discussed in
the mechanics for the Age's change. Beyond some
threshold, it doesn't matter how they feel about it:
They have to deal with it anyway.
This does not mean there is no room for hope. You
can judge that the characters somehow forestall or
even avert the shift in the Ages if you want (although
that is perhaps too grand for a horror game). More
plau$ibly, the characters can achieve personal vi cto~
ries in the face of universal degradation. In a crum,
bling court, preserving some traditions, staving off
akuma and laying the seeds fora future renaissance are
all great victories.

N_ons ON, ~oss;N,c; 0~


World of Darkness: Blood & Silk is principally a supplements for rhat game). Having players portray
historical supplement for Kindred of the East, anl'.l so, different denizens of the World of Darkness can be very
much of the advice in this chapter deals with chronicles tricky, however. Keep the following advice in mind
centered almost exclusively on Wan Kuei. The Middle when going this route.
Kingdom has a diverse supernatural population, how-
ever, including powerful spirits, ghostly armies of the )USTJFf<At10t{
dead, shape changing Ferocious People and nefarious Monsters do not easily find common cause. Wan Kuel
wizards. The next chapter provides a great deal of insight and Cainites do not understand each other, and wh at they
on these various supernatural creatures, called shen. do understand, they dislike. The same can be said for
They can appear in a variety of roles, as allies, enemies Xiong Ren sh apechangers and most other shen. Mages are
or contacts. likely to see all other creatures as ingredients or subjects
But a broader crossover is possible. Wan Kuei for experimentation. And most every creature competes
characters of Fourth Age can - in some circumstances for power at dragon nests.
- find common ground with characters drawn from To create an enjoyable story, you and your troupe
Vampire: The Dark Ages, Mage: The Sorcerers Cru, must create a plausible reason for a gaggle of shen to
sade or Werewolf: The Apocalypse (using material cooperate. The easiest solution is to come up with an
from the Werewolf: The Dark Ages or Hengeyokai extraordinary circumstance that justifies a short~term
Cwna. FM: rau orlfu:. ' @ U3
alliance. Imagine that the elder of a Xiong Ren Beast Add cosmological complication only when you feel tt
Court has gone.missing ma city. The ancest<>r ofthe Wan will ennch your chronicle. For inscance, Wan Kuei Dise1-
Kuei court, lO avoid a war, pledges that some of his plmes may depend on the expressed. albeit distorted, will
followers will find the elder weretiger. The Beast Court of the August Personage in Jnde, who holds no authority
agrees, on the condition that a few of their own accom- m the West except insofar as Wan Kuei settle and mvitc
pany the vampiric investigators. the spirit worlds close ro Earth beyond the bounds o~ the
This options stretches credibility less than a wu Middle Kingdom.
including four different monstrous species, and it allows
you to put a time limit on the cooperation. if the troupe -_uus
manages to build paths to cooperation during the initial The Vampire Storytellers Handbook offers a very
story, you can continue. If not, you have an easy way to comprehensive set of guidelines for adjudicating the_in-
break off and move on to other tales. terplay of vampiric dtsciplines with magic and other
forces. If you don't wane co rdy on the answers there, you
Co11ro1.oc; can apply a modicum of common sense co setding most
The World of Darkness_ inc.ludes many different disputes. The most probable source of complications is
sores of spiritual powers. When the prayer.s fly and the the ease with which Mage &pheres can affecL Wan Kuci.
spells circulate, it actually matters who or what is ih The answer is a simple one: Require Spirit, and perhaps
charge of the spot the characters now occupy. Do Wan also Prime, foreffecrs rargercd at Wan Kuei. After all, the
Kuei Disciplines work outside the boundaries of the Wan Kuei draw on a process established by the August
Middle Kingdom? Does the ritual which determines Personage in Jade himselfand are anchored very deeply in
casual and vain magic in the Middle Kmgdom (seep. the universe of the Middle Kmgdom.
148) apply in your chronicle? How do local paradigm
matter? Can Cainite vampires Embrace in a realm thac Cul1'U~E
rejects Caine's curse? You need to think about rhese Social issues matter at least as much as mecnanical
matters before players demand or invent answers of ones. Above all, keep in mind that Eastern characters
their own. know very little about those in the West, and vice versa.
The simplest approach (and the one followed m It can all very easily degenerate imo a mindless brawl.
official releases) is to say that each sort of character Prepare matters of common interest for characters com-
follows his own rules wherever he ts. You should not ing form different cultures - a rare scholarly work for
rhink of this as a cop-out answer, since the forces that incellecrual characters, perhaps a sanctuary in the midst
define the different sorts of vampire and mage are glObal, of war or wilderness for more physical characters.
at lea.st in part.

,

135
~--------------...........ei...-----~~~~

CHA~~EW 5%X:
tlA1l-IAWZAl1S
ARD SH~n
The flow of the river'is ceaseless and its water is
never the same.
- Kamo no Chomei, Hokoki

'rM S-.11( T"M ~Cf OF' x,o-.c; ~11(-


The Wan Kuei are far from being the Middle Throughout this book, the shapeshifters who
Kingdom's only supernatural inhabitants. Beyond the will by the modem day be called hengeyokai, "Chang-
many spirits of the land, they share the nigl)t with ing Phantoms," are referred to by the Chinese name
shapechangers, displaced demigods and tireless hunters. Xiong Ren. The phrase translates quite literally to
A Blood & Silk hronicle need never include these "Ferocious People," emphasizing their dual natures
various shen, but they can add a whole other dimension to as man and beast. The majority of the Beast Courts
play. The following sections provide brief overviews of of the 12th century use the Chinese language as their
the shapechangers, hsien, mages, ghosts and demonpunt- common tongue, as geography dictates. Because the
ers of the late Founh Age. Beast Courts include many different types of

~Ot(Cf "II(
The Xiong Ren - the Ferocious People, the
shapechangers, using breed-specific languages is
imprecise at best; thus, the name Xiong Ren is
considered the most appropriate and the least likely
shapeshifters of the East - spend their days in the to offend.
Middle Kingdom with an innate balance that other
shen can only envy. While the Wan Kuei struggle palaces and bloody temples and decided that the
between the demands of Yin and.Yang, Hun and P'o, werecreatures were too crude and too dangerous. The
the Ferocipus People tie together vital energies, hu- Wan Xian came down ro walk among those who were
manity and beast, with seemingly little effort. It is the once allies and- spread rumors of corruption and dis-
gift of. the Emerald Mother to her people. sent. They fanned 'the flames of the skirmishes that
Their shen peers have not always held the Fero- followed and returned to their strongholds as all-out
cious People in such esteem. In the days of the late war enveloped the Beast Courts of the Emerald
Third Age, the Ten Thousand Immortals, full of Mother. This bloody conflict is remembered as the
overweening pride1 looked down from their gaudy War of Shame.
136
m @
Though fooled once, and at extraordinary cost, the pened with disquieting speed in the eyes of the Wan
Ferocious People would prove the Wan Xian the greater Kuei. The Ferocious People somehow remember, in
fools. The Xiong Ren looked up from their internecine alarming detail, events that no being st1ll ltving wit-
fighting; they saw chac the Okuma bear-shifters were nessed. The vase majority of rhe tales from rhe lurning
gone forever and rhe Naga'h snake-people nearly extin- of the Age speak of betrayal and corruptton, out some
guished. They saw dragon nests ravaged, while guardians very few tell of acts of valor and sacrifice by the Wan
avenged imagined slights. Their rage knew no bounds as Xian. In the few places where those stories are sttll cold
they turned on the Wan Xian, their betrayers. Led into with reverence, the Wan Kuei and the Xiong Ren can
battle by the noble Hakken general Chi You, who exist side by side. Where such uneasy peace exists, the
claimed descent from the August Personage of Jade wise ancestor keeps Running Monkeys on a short leash
himself, the reuni ted armies of the Ferocious People and limits their contact with the Beast Courts. The
fought the ueachecous Wan Xian to a standstill; then, ambitions of rhe newly dead erode peace treaties with
the heavens opened, and Gaia delivered her judgment alarming speed.
on the Ten Thousand Demons. ThcwildsoftheMiddleKingdom-ilieJesertsofthe
The Xiong Ren did not escape judgment, however. northwest, the mountains and jungles of the south, the
The Wall dividing the spirit world from the physical steppesofthenorth-providevastareaswheretheXiong
world cemen ted rhem permanently in their fleshly bod- Ren and the Wan Kue1 can coexist relatively peacefully.
ies-some of the hapechangers lost their ability co seep Dragon nests are comparatively plentiful, and Wan Kuei
into the spirit world entirely. Chi You, the Hakken willingroliverusticallyandsimplyareseen(correcrlyor
general, knew well th~ laws of H eaven and accepted incorrectly) by rhe FerOCLous People as wiser than their
punish ment on behalf of h is armies for the cri me of urban counrerpans. In rhe central and eastern areas, the
taking up arms agai~t the appointed ministers ofHeaven. rising human population has hemmed the Xiong Ren into
No matter bow corrupt and un righteous the Wan Xian small area around their sacred sites. The Wan Kuet grow
had become, it was not the place of the Ferocious People in power and number wtth the swelling tide of humanity,
to strike them down. making the Ferocious People wary and angry-and often
General Chi was senr to the hell ruled by Yen,Lo; in spoiling for a fight.
this, the heavens showed cQmpassion, as Yen-Lo alone of Hunte W'r~-..~"'oLvk
5
the Yama Kings still obeyed his duty to cleanse and purify ..,..
the souls of those in his charge. The bravest bands of Other breeds mav lay first claim to the ride of
Xiong Ren (\cnqwn as senrai) once made the journey to warrior, but the Hakken are without question the sol
Hell to Visit with Chi You and to lea~ from,him - it is d1ers of the Ferocious People. They are suited to serve in
said that the geoeral knew gifts chat none among the any role asked of them in the Beast Court~ and do so
Ferocious People had ever used before. When Yen, Lo's without hesitation. The Way of Emerald Vmue dove-
infernal realm was attacked and walled off;from Yomi a tails nicely with their native Litany, and so, they quickly
millenniun\ ago, h6we er, the Beast Courts lost contact gain Honor and G lory in their chosen courts.
with Chi Yo~. Divination suggests that.he escaped before And yet, so many Hakken choose not to. Were it
the walls of the hell closed, but Chi You has not been seen nor for the demands of duty, most Hakken would
since, and h is spirit has not returned to the Temple of the choose to remain w1thm packs and sepcs of rheir own
Ancestors among the Yang Realms. kind. le was nor always this way- the Hakken, wh ile
The Ferocious People today are still disorganized not the first co sec the horrible truth behind the War of
and fractious. The. wounds inflicted when Beast Court Shame, were ln the vanguard of the army that battled
fought Beast Court.were deep, and the scars are still raw. the Wan Xian across the Middle Kingdom until the
On the one hand, the Mandates of the Emerald Mother intervention of Heaven. In the last 100 years, the
require peace and cooperation among the Xiong Ren. Hakken have retreated from the mainland, raking
O n the other hand, angry ancestor spirits and tales mates among the people ofthe island ofNihon, thereby
handed down for generations demand thatthe-atrocities tying their faces to their new home with the bonds of
of the past not be forgotten. Not all pay feaity to the kinship. Their name itself - Hakken - is newly
Beast Courts of the Emerald Mother.i preferring co re- acquired and still fits as uncomfonably as a new shoe.
main among their own breed and fo follow their own Perhaps the Hakken are still smarting from the two
litanies and paths - this is the simplest way of dealing bloody wars, or perhaps rhe judgment of Heaven upon
with the breach opened so long ago. However, through their ancestor, Ch.1You, has caused them deep shame.
strength of purpose and an unswerving sense of duty, the The Ferocious People of the mainland prefer to assume
Beast Courts are slowly regai ning their lost power. Young that it is the second; it would be disgraceful to consider
Xiong Ren gather under their banners to form sentai in the sons and daughters of the wolf cowards.
honor of Gaia and Luna. The Hakken have done well in theirnew home. They
While the return to power and prominence may have nurtured the wamors there along a path of honor
seem slow co the hoc-blooded Xiong Ren, ir has hap, and dury, until rhe besr of these human samurai rival the
U7

~ W8'.HJC1'-
The Khan are the warriors of the Ferocious People;
only the Hakken werewolves of N ihon and the north can
match cheir ferocity on the battlefield. The weretigersare
the only ones of the great cat-shifters to pledge their
allegiance to the Beast Courts in any number. The others
are too solitary or their kinfolk are too rarely seen in
China for them to promise their lives to the Beast Kings
of the East; the few Bagheera snow leoeardswho grace the
mountain tops ofthe wesi;,are the nextgreatest in number,
bur they eschew even the rudimentary policies of the
Bea Courts. The Khan serve the Coons loyally; indeed
a few Khan stand as kings.
For the most part, the Khan eschew weaponry such
as klaives; they prefer to fight with fist tooth and claw.
But few of them wield powerful relic weapons, such as
the Hammer of Zhao. No Khan will wield a fetish
weapon that was not created for a weretiger's use; his
pride is coo great to let him accept hand-me-downs from
Hakken or Same-Bito.
While the Khan ofChina are loyal first and foremost
co their liege lords, they remain on good terms with the
Khan of the distant West. Periodically a great summons
will occur in one of the kingdoms of lndia, and all Khan
werewolves themselves in devotion. They have fought to are expected to a nend these convocations. They are
keep the islands safe from the incursions ofYomi, and for usually an excuse to socialize and exchange stories, as well
the mosl part, they have been ~uccessful. The greatest as catch up with old acquaintances, but the Khan also
threat co their lands is the Kumo, and the Hakken have no share battle tactics and intelligence on the activities of
mercy to spare for their fallen shapcchangmg brethren. the GreatCentipede.
The Hakken share auspices, breeds and forms with The Khan cannot enter the Yang Realms on their
the Garou werewolves of the West. Those who choose to own; only through the use of powerful Gifts from the
join sentai and unite with the Beast Courts of theEmer~ld Emerald Mother or with the aid of a semai~mate can
Mother may also choose X1on 1 Ren gifts. clhey be pulled across the Wall. However, weretigers do
138 @ 8lOOD II SfU:..
maintain their own "Den,Realms, n which are small by the Kumo and can only conclude that they serve the
pockets of the Yang Realm that they have extracted Yama Kings.
through the Wall and made their own. The Kumo do not join the"l3east Court . Not one has
.J../_ ever made the offer; if one were ro, ir would be turned
~Ul(I Wllt,IFOJ(_H down. Goblin Spider ambassadors are tolerated at the
The Kitsune are a strange new breed among the courts, where they are neither trusted nor trusting. While
Ferocious People. They were brought inco existence by occasionally the Kumo will make paces with the Beast
Gaia's hand in the throes of the War ofShame and grew Courts to fight offa common enemy, it is just a common
up as a race in the chaos that accompanied the turning that the Spiders will choose to befriend the enemy and
of the Third Age. They did not fight the Wan Xian; rum on their shapechanging cousins. It matters little ro
foxes are not made for fighting, and they were little the Kumo where the blood that bloats their bellies comes
more than pups at the time. The Kitsune have spent from.
long years derided for having come coo late, bur it is Some Goblin Spiders, in confirmation of the worst
beiinning to become clearer, perhaps, why Gaia sent fearsoftheirsnapechangingcousins,havesteppedaway
them when She did. from serving abstract forces of destruction and formed
It is true that theKitstlnedid not fight the Wan Xian. distinct arrangements with very concrete forces of cor,
But the Kitsune also did not fight the Hakken or the Khan ruption, the YamaKings. These Ku mo make their homes
or the Nagah or the T engu-they alone, ofall the breeds, in the jungles along the Scarlet Path from Yomi ro the
carry no blame for the W ar of Shame. In the Fourth Age Yang World. In exchange for safe passage and hunting
that followed the War, the Kitsune who chose co join the grounds, the Spiders serve as soldiers and spies for the
Beast Courts ofthe Emerald Mother often serve as ambas, Yama Kings. Because they have no good reason to leave
sadors to neighboring courts, and as peace, keepers within y omi - the least troublesome thing a Scarlet Path
their own. 'The scars and slights, wounded honors and Kumo tould be up ro is kidnapping a mate - these
egos of the Ferocibus People recover slowly from such Goblin Spiders are not even trusted by their own kind in
rr~gressions; the werefoxes have been busy for centuries the physical realm. They are often seen in the company
as intermediates. That role is diminishing now, at last, as of Wan Kuei, akuma and worse.
the tales of betrayal are generations old and the ancestor Ku mo prefer to live in the ci:umbling habitai:s of
spirits finally seem placated. man - ruined palaces, decaying temples. The deserted
The Kicsune, for their part, seemh appy to no longer towns arrayed alo~g the Silk Road have, of late, be,
be needed in chat role. While perfectly capable of being come a favorite haunt of the Kumo. Many a traveler,
charming, kind, understanding and unfailingly polite, weary from a long day of sand and heat, has stopped at
the years of keeping their trickster natures and glib a q uiet hamlet seeking shelter - and never left. The
tongues under control have weighed heavily on the Wan Kuei and the Goblin Spiders do not often come
werefo~~s. Many a court has sealed a treaty of peace with into direct conflict over habitation, as Wan Kuei usu,
a long,aggrieved neighbor, only to watch their Kitsune ally prefer to live in places that have been kept up; the
ambassadors di solveintoarollingpileofpranks,double occasional vampire has returned from a long journey,
entendres and waving foxtails at the atcompanying however, to d~scover her home run down and webbed
celebration. and its new occupant hungry.
While they may be ambassadors amon~ the Ferocious The Goblin Spiders share breeds, forms and gifts
People, the Kitsune bring death to the humans of the with the Western Ananasi. The birching of a metis kills
Middle Kingdom. The werefoxes are enjoined from kill, the mother as the young SP,ider eats its way out of her
ingtheinnocent,butthosehumanswhoabusethel'rst~tus womb; peJ'Versely, the metis are honored, and their
to cause suffering may taste the steel ofa Kitsune assassin. births celebrated. The Ku mo have only four forms,
ln a world full of conniving warlords, corrupt ministers, including their human form. Their war form is an night,
jealous consorts and even the occasional emperor lacking marish, bipedal horror the height of two men, with six
in virtue, the Kitsune find enough work to keep them~ clawed arms, glowing eyes and a grotesquely distended
selves busy. torso. The Goblin Spider form is four feet tall at the
~O Yl1tt.UPJDut.S houlder, possesses fangs drlpping with venom and is
capable of spinning webs that can entrap the fiercest
The Goblin Spiders have embodied evil m ~ll the weretiger. Their final form is a nigh indestructible mass
lands of the Middle Kingdom since the Se.cond Age - of hundreds and i;.undreds of&piders-even one surviv-
the very first sign that perhapS" something was not ing spider will eventually reform into the Kumo.
entirely right with the Ten Thousand Things. They
profess loyalty to the entity the Beast Courts know as
the Centipede and the European Garou as the Wynn;
'-ac;AK YIH,Hllt.PIN:TS
The Nagah have always been blessed. They were
outsiders, caring little for the werespiders' philosophi, blessed before their birth, when Vishnu rested in the coils
cal leanings, see the carnage and corruption wrought of the Great Serpent before the uni verse was formed.
13.9
They were blessed at their making, to be chosen by the ~-----------------....-!!!l!!!!!l!--a!!!!--~~~~-
commontocitiesonbothsidesofthewater.InChinathey
River, whom they revere as a Third Mother. Sadly, this are called shubei, which literally translated means "ratlike
eternal blessing has had seemingly little benefit to the scoundrel." The Nezumi are the Ferocious People who
Nagah's worldly existence. most regret the passing of the lmpergium; their skills at
The Nagah were early targets of the corrupt Wan stalking unseen through cities give them a huge advan
Xian, who feared their discernment and their ability tage in the game of killing masses of mortals. Even now,
to smell out deceit. The Wan Xian whispered of the fires that spread through coastal cities such as Linan
corruption among the judges of the Emerald Courts- and Shanghai can sometimes be traced back to a frus-
after all, who was there to judge the judges?The other trated Child of Rat.
Ferocious Peoples listened and grew suspicious; the The~ezumi are master.ci of the art ofLow War: They
Nagah do not blame the others for their fear, for a dig labyrinthine warrens under major cities and use
traitorous wereserpent would be, and once was, a those places to practice stealth, spying, assassination
terrifying thing indeed. But they do blame the other and so on. These passageways frequently pass through
breeds for their clouded sight, for failing to look for what sewer tunnels exist in the ancient coastal cities)
themselves and for failing to see the corruption that they d6 not mind the filth or stench, and some of them
took hold of the Beast Courts as the insinuating even cultivate the diseases such foul spirits bring.
whispers did their work. Still, when the treachery of Nezumi are divided into four castes: Seers, who are
the Wan Xian was discovered, the Nagah did not mystics and the masters of magical ritual; Tunnel Run-
shirk from the battle that followed, fighting with ners, who act as scouts and messengers; Skulkers, who are
venomous fangs and razor-sharp claws alongside those silent killers; ana Warriots, who are noisier killers.
who had sought their blood. 1.,;
After the turning of the Age, the Nagah pulled away Sa-8JT1) W~ISll&lt.l:...S
from the society of the Beast Courts, retreating to their The Wan Kuei~re terrifically ignorant of the Same-
ancestral rivers. They have allowed theshen of the Middle Bi to; most of the demons of the northern and western
Kingdom to believe them dead- and, in truth, there are courts do nor even know such things exist. However,
less than 200 Nagah alive today. They watch the affairs of those vampires who dwell in the watery kingdoms of the
the Ferocious People from a distance, giving anonymous Azure Dragon and Scarlet Phoenix Courts tell cautionary
assistance where they can. They hide in their safe places tales ofthe Sharks of the Dragon Kings.
-rivers, Ananta spirit-realms, temples of Vishnu-and Since the dawn of the Fourth Age, the Same-Biro
husband their strength. have gradually grown more civilized. Their earliest prede-
Some of the Nagah will clearly never trust the cessors were mad with blood lust and were considered to
Ferocious People, or any shen, again. A small group of .be one of the greatest dangers of the sea. But ~izuchi, the
individuals calling themselves the Scarlet Hood, their well-respected elder wereshark, long ago pledged fealcy to
number and identity unknown even to other Nagah, Tiandi,Lord ofThunder,.andhjspeoplehaveslowlycome
punishes offending shen and mortals with a growing around to following Sensei Mizuchi's Code.
lack of discretion. The penalty for offenses ranging The Code is a simgle one, for the Same-Bito are not
from cheating at dice to high t reason is the.same - a a complicated people: Respect your elders and tribemates;
brutal death. The Wani, the spirits who guide the fightwithhonor;leamalways;deferldyourterritory.Some
Nagah, speak of their displeasure; the Nagah brace for
Same-Bito, who call themselves Rokea, ignore the
the day that they must show themselves in the MiddleCode of Sensei Mizuchi and live in the bloody, un-
Kingdom again or deal with. the Scarlet Hoods among thinking old ways. The Rokea are seen less and less in
their own kind. the Fourth Age; they claim much of the great eastern
The Nagah are capable of assuming five forms: asea as their own and speak of enormous uncharte
human form, a near-human form, the forms of normal expanses of free ace n in all directions. Honorablf
and giant serpents and a terrifying, cobra-like war Same-Bito, of course, are concerned only with the
form. In their war form, the N agah can crush op poterritory of the Dragon Kiq.gs and ignore the call of the
nents in 20 feet or more of serpentine coils, bite with
open ocean and their one-time tribesmen. When Same
incredibly toxic venom or rake at foes with their Bi to and Rokea do encounter one another, the result is
brutal claws. The Nagah do show one clear sign of a bloody, roiling me$Si it is not uncommon for only one
their blessed nature; their metis are untouched by wereshark in four to survive the meeting of Same-Bito
deformity and fertile. It is certainly possible that,
and Rokea packs.
without this slight advantage, the Nagah might have There are only two breeds of Same-Bito: The rarer
perished as did the Okuma. rongo are bred ot human stock, while the far more
common tangaroa are bred of shark. Only the rarest
t(EZUMJ W~HPS wereshark can cross the Wall into the Yang Realms;
The Children of Rat are more often found on the others must learn high-leyel Gifts or be led through the
islands of Nihon than on the mainland, but they are Wall by others. The Same-Bito have three auspices: The
Karui are warriors, born during daylight; the Koshuku Wereravens are not warriors; they would rather fly
are speakers, born during dawn or twilight; and the lrono than fight, and their man-raven warfouns are frankly
are scouts, born at night. ridiculous to behold. Their ability to escape tricky situa
t1ons, however, is known throughout the Middle King
Tit(CfU YI~~... dom. The wit of the Tengu is a1so renowned; only the very
No race of the Ferocious People save the Nezumi can cleverest of the Ferocious People are able to render a
match the T engu's ab1 !icy to ferret out humanity's secrets. wereraven speechless.Tale abound ofTengu who talked
But while the Nezumi paw through garbage and listen their way out ofan impossible situation and made a profit
through basemenrwal ls, the T engu fly above the humans' in the-bargain.
filth and observe the grander panem. The Emerald Mother The Tengu do not breed like the ocher Ferocious
commands the Ravens of the East to learn all things and People; their offspring are never born T engu (though
steal all secrets, and they happily obey Her dictates. they are Kinfolk), and they are not fertile among
The Tengu are incorrigible gossips; no rumor spreads themselves, even to create metis. TP,eir breeds are
faster than one disseminated by a wereraven. Their homid and corvid, as with the Western Corax. To
best gossip comes from one particularly discurbing abil~ create a Tengu child, the prospectiveparentwereraven
icy: By plucking out and ea tang the eye of the recently must undergo a wrenching rite and create a spirit egg.
deceased, a Tengu can see what the corpse lasr saw in This egg is then affixed to the child of the Tengu's
life, thereby determining the immediate circumstance cho ice; that child becomes a T engu and is typically
of the person's death. This i~ not a rrick they are often spirited away from hi mottal family in order to learn
invited to play at parties, but it is rather useful for the truth of the world.
spying. Legend cells of Wan Kuei who have died par
ticularly inauspicious deaths rising from Yomi to find ..%ttot(c; lut(~ W'~ID9'&Cf0
an eye missing; due to the mystical n ature of the The Zhong Lung are the eldest ofthe Emerald Mother's
Tengu's eye-theft, the eye is gone forever. Sadly, these creatures; she sculpted them only moments after the
rare Wan Kuei are rarely satisfied with a trade of, for Scarlet Queen breathed her into existence in the First
example, some tail feathers. Age-or, as some tales have it, the Emerald Motheris the
141

Scarlet Queen herself. Regardless, the Middle Dragons


~--------------------...-...._~~~~~
Sua or
llEC'IS BEAST" Cou..,...,
THI'
were made before any other. The Zhong Lung say they , '? 9'-
remember the days before the sundering of Heaven from
Earth; they remember the heroics of the Second Age and ~..,.~~
the hubris of the Third. Awarded the rank of Iron Pillar lry che Court of the Gold
Crysanthernt4m inNihon, Miro is a taciturn werewolfofhuman
Or at least, that is their claim. Many Wan Kuei say
sux:k. He watches OtleT his samurai kinfolk and has little good t.o
they remember the Tang dynasty, yet at least a dozen
say about che gaki.
mandarins honestly claim to have been Empress Wu's
Attributes: Strength 3/5/7/6/4, Dexterity 3/J/4/5/5,
primary advisor during her ascent to power. Do they lie ?
Stamina 2/4/5/5/4, Charisma 3, Manipulation 4/3/1/1/l, Ap--
Do they simply remember incorrectly? Memory is fallible.
pearance 3/2/0/3/3, Perceprion 2, Inrelligence 2, Wits3
The mind fills in absent facts. The Middle Dragons h ave
millennia of memory to tap into and often can recall the
Abilities: Alermess 2, Athletics 4, Brawl 2, Empathy 1,
Etiquette 3, E.xpre$ion 2, Leadership 2, Linguistics I, Melee 4,
same event from many different perspectives,, but each of
Politics 3, Primal-Urge 2, Subterfuge 2, Survival 2
those perspectives is clouded by personal experience.
Gifts: ( 1) Aura ofConfidence, Create Element, Dream
General facts and circumstances are reliably available
ofa Thousand Cranes, Smell of Man; (2) Courtly Speech,
through the Mnesis ability to tap the Zhong Lung racial
Storm Winds Slash
memory; but details, names and faces are frequently
Rage 5, G nosis 1, Willpower 4
muddled by the passage of time.
The Zhong Lung are the sages and scholars of the
Ferocious People; though their Archid war-form is ter- The child of che great tigers of Southeast Asia, ]asperclaw
rible and awesome, they rarely resort to its use. Each Ii.irks in the jungles ofthe GTeen Wind Court and hopes to lead his
Middle Dragon's war-form is unique and displays the people in a great battle againsc r:hose who have wronged them.
individual's personality and heritage, in addition to pro- Already h has been granted the rank of Iron Fist.
viding great strength and an arsenal of combat abilities. Attributes: Strength 3/5/6/7/5, Dexterity 3/4/5/5/5,
The Hamid form is that of an ordinary human being Stamina 4/6/7/7/7, Charisma 2, Manipulation 2/1/0/0/0, Ap-
(though often one with the mien of a great teacher); in, pearance 2/1/0/0/2, Perception 3, Intelligence 2, Wirs 3
China, the Suchid form is typically that of a great alligator Abilities: Alermess 3, Animal Ken 2, Athletics 3,
(though in some areas, crocodiles and even Komodo Brawl 4, Dodge 2, Enigmas 2, Etiquette 1, lntimidacionJ,
dragons are more common). Investigation 1, Leadership 1, Linguistics 2, Melee 2, Pri,
As sages and scholars, the Middle Dragons prefer mal-Urge 2, Stealth 3, Survival 3
the stability of a mountain sentai (a long term war parry Gifts: (1) Catfeec, Crushmg the c.entipede, Leap of the
with a common totem); they most often choose to Kangaroo, Mindspeak; (2) Blaze Talon;, Serue the Unnatural
settle in near a dragon nest and then work as defende rs Rage 5, Gnosis 6, Willpower 3
and scholars-in-residence. More than one Zhong Lung
has a Same-Bi to as her champion and shark-at-arms; in T"m.te; ~
return for the weresharks' protection, the Zhong Lung
11111. YI.,.._ CFH--...
OneoftheZhongl.ungliuingjustsouthoftheGreat Wall, Tong
help to guide the Same-Bi to along the Code ofMizuchi Long Hua watches the winds ofmorral dynasties and knows the
as best they can. Hungry De.ad play their games within. He knows some Wan Kuei
The Zhong Lung find themselves in an unusually are honorable, but they are few and far between.
indecisive position with regard to the Wan Kuei. In Attributes: Strength 4/8/6, Dexterity 3/3/2, Stamina 5/
all practicality, there occasionally comes a time when 9/8, C harisma 4. Manipulation 2/0/0, Appearance 3/0/3,
the vampires must be trusted. The Middle D~agons Perception 5, Intelligence 3, Wits 3
know far too much about ancient or even merely Abilities: Alertness 2, Animal Ken 2, Athletics 2,
elderly individuals to be comfortable trusting them Brawl 5, Dodge 3, Empathy 3, Enigmas 4, Etiquette 4,
however, and the young among the Wan Kuei seem to Expression 2, lntimidation 2, Law 3, Leadership 5, Medicine
be becoming more brutal and cruel as the Age 2, Melee 3, Occult 2, Performance 2, Politics 2, Primal,Urge
progresses. When the choice of allies must be made, 2, Rituals 4, Survival 3
the Zhong Lung often choose the young and untested, Gifts: (1) Chi'ih Ming, PetsUasion, Scent of the True
in hopes of receiving a pleasant shock rather than Form, Shou; (2) Breakingthe Tomorrow Wall, Call to Duty,
inevitable disappointment. Courtly Speech, Sense Imtralance; (3) TheDragon'sTongue,
SongofRage, WakingDreamofUnity; (4) Hannonyofthe
Soul, Part the Wall
Rites: (1) Rite of Binding, Rite of Cleansing; (2) Rite
ofNanfeng,RiteofRenewal, RiteoftheOpenedWay,Rite
ofSummoning; (3) Rite of the Fetish, Rite of the Harmoni-
ous Journey; (4) Rite of the Spirit Tattoo
Rage 4, Gnosis 5, Willpower 8
8LOOD It $J~

4rHE lfs/R( disobeying the orders passed to them to make war on the
TenThousand Immortals. Andso, cheh.sien warred among
The Wan Kuei knew the hsien well in the time themselves, against the Wan Xian and even against the
before the August Personage of Jade turned his inef humans they were charged to serve. Sages and scholars
fab le face from the Middle Kingdom. In those long-ago among the h.sien have debated the rights and wrongs of the
days, the Wan Xian and the h.sien worked side by side matter since the turning o~rhe Age, but even the most
under the Mandate o Heaven, if not exactly in unison. meticulous divinations and impassioned philosophical
While the Wan Xian were endowed with great freedom maneuvers cannot determine what course of action, if
of action, the h.sien worked within the Celestial Bu- any, could have averted the tragedy that was to come.
reaucracy, performing tasks assigned by their superiors
The judgment of the August Personage of Jade was
and appropriately supervising their underlings. They
nor s.wlft, but it was final. He further sundered the realms
had no envy for che Wan Xian; the immortals were
of the spirit from the physical world and removed from
simply fulfilling their appointed FOle under He~ven,
the hsien their abiliry to cross over from the Middle
and the hsien would likewise strive to fulfill theirs. In
Kingdom. T o the eternal shame of the h.sien, the August
the course of their duties, the hsien traveled at will
Personage also required that the h.sien wear forms taken
among the Celescial Courts, the Yang World and the
from mortals, entwining their fate with that of the
Middle Kingdom. They wore the ir celestial forms when-
humans. The hsien remain effectively immortal, but
ever and wherever they pleased; rhe humans who saw
when their current body dies, they must enter another
them knew they were privileged to glimpse the servants
human corpse as their home. The terrible justice of thi
of Heaven . The nobles and magistrates of the hsien, the
decision was not immediate ly clear, but the h.sien soon
kamuii, were given charge of the five elements them-
realized that to protect themselves from attack they
selves. Their servants, the hirayanu, took the forms of
would also need to protect the humans. This wa a more
animals as necessary to carry messages and perform
difficult task than ever; the Ten Thousand Demons
other required tasks.
joined the list of humanity's predators.
Irrevocable changes followed the Wan Xian un-
And so, the h.sieh and the Wan Kuei parted ways.
thinkable abuse of their power and position. The h.sien,
The hsien have divided themselves into three groups
hobbled by their position within the bureaucracy of
identifiable by vampires; in the time after the meting-of
Heaven, were forced to make impossible choices between
punishments, all of these groups struggled to find their
protecting their mortal and environmental charges and
143
~~~-------..iiiiiiiliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilli-.il--------------~----------------------...........--~--~~
own ways of dealing with their stranding and dimin- bodies of mortals on the brink of death, as the August
ished power. These groups are the Shinma, the Daityas Person.age of Jade commanded.
and the Kura Sau. (Though technically a term that Hampered in their new forms and beset on all sides
encompasses all hsien, Shinma is often used to refer by old enemies sensing weakness and new enemies
only to those who accepted the punishment of Heaven.) desperate for sustenance, the Shinma struggled always to
fulfill their duty first. This cost them dearly; while ahsien
does not die when her physical body is destroyed, her
memories and purpose are almost always forgotten as she
takes a new human form. With e_very minor destruction
of form ca~n incal~ulahle loss ofprecious memory -
anothet hsien who could no longer remember the glori-
ous days of the Second and Third Ages.'"Worse_yet, a
hsien drained of all her Chi energy tru1y dies - the.very
energies of her soul have been sucked away, and there is
no retmm.
Others among the hsien abandoned their duties, turn-
ing to che Yama Kings for protection in a mad reenact-
ment of the fall of the Ten Thousand Immortals. The
Shinma, convinced that the punishment handed down
from the h,u~t Personage of Jade was just, held fast to
their convictions and continued with their duties, even as
more and ll,}OEe of their fellows' were destroyed forever by
the claws, teeth and twisted magics of other shen.
The faith of the Shinma was rewarded, at least in
part, when the monkey-spirit Hanuman was allowed to
glimpse the secretS"of the universe through the teach-
ings of anJtmeranr Taoist monk. Capitalizing devey
on his luck, the Monkey King stole into the Celestial
Palace and brought back the secrets that the Shinma
needed to survive. All of the hsien, still spiritual crea-
tures even when lodged in mortal shells, were greatly
Chi imbalanced. This left them nearly defenseless
agaihst attacks made with opposing Ghi. The secrets
that Hanuman shared allowed every Shinma to incor-
porate some of their opposing Chi, Yin or Yang, into
the fabi::ic of their" being. In additi0n to his basic
survival tactic, mastered quickly by force of sheer
necessity, Hanuman deliveretl into the hands of the
Shinma sch olars the seeds of what w0uld become the
Tao Te Hsien, a newly discovered ability to work the
naked Chi forces of the universe. Mastery of tfiese
forces is incredibly difficult but holds the.promise of a
welcome return to the heavens, if not to the Celes al
Courts themselves.
The Shinma nobility and commoners represent
and embody the five elements, one kamuii kwannon-
The Shinma accepted the punishment of the August j in {their word for kitb.) and one hirayanu kwannon-j in
Personage of Jade as graciously as could be expected. to each element. Thenou-chi and the fu hsi, the
Bowing their heads under the great weight of the respon- serpent hirayanu, are aligned with wood. The chu-ih-
sibility given them, they turned immediately to work, yu ~d the tanuki, the badgers, represent metal. The
stanching the earth's wounds and answering the prayers of chu jung and the nyan, the cat hirayanu, wield the
the multitudes suffering in the wake of the Wan Xian's power offire. The komuko and the hanumen (so named
depredations. The kamuii nobles and hirayanu common- in hon or of the Monkey King) represent earth. The
ers alike took the misery of the humans upon themselves suijen and the heng po, the carp hirayanu, are the
quite literally as they moved to inhabit the too-plentiful guardians of water.
1...
~~~~------- ----.. ......--.....
...... ._.--
The elemental nature of the hsien forms the basis of
~
The kamuii nobility are often involved direccly in the
their more common magics. Each of the Wu Tan, the Celestial Elemental Ministries, still fulfilling their ap-
Five Alchemies, pertains to a single classical element: pointed roles after centuries of banishment. The com-
earth, fire, metal, water or wood. To affect a combina- moners are no longer theirs to command with impunity;
tion of elements requires some degree of ability with unless a noble has great'. power, she must treat the hirayanu
each. The elemental Alchemies do not simply control as honored associates who simply have a talent for dirty
the physical manifestation of the elements. They also work and a willingness to do it. Outside the Celestial
command symbolic representations of the elements, Bureaucracy, others have chosen t0 take a moreindividu-
whether the denizens of the spirit worlds or the el- alistic, proactive approach to protecting the natural and
emental souls of humans - or shen. The virtues of the human worlds, traveling the countryside as itinerant
soul correspond to the elements: earth as wisdom, wood warriors and monks or adopting villages to watch over
as self-control. fire as propriety, metal as honesty and without the need for orders from above. As a gtoup, the
water as faith. h1 all uses of Wu Tan, Yin Chi is used for Shinma all remain.mindful of their place under Heaven
destructive effects, while Yang Chi is used for construc and strive to fulfill that role with varying degrees of
tive effects; for example, Yin Chi would be used in success.
conjunction with Fire Alchemy to douse flames, while There are more than half a dozen smaller courts
Yang Chi would be used to summon fire, even for a arranged within the Shinma court itself. Individuals
harmful purpose such as burning an enemy. 1oin oneormore courts according to personal philoso-
phy and connections. The machinations of these courts
are arcane and subtle; the least powerful members of
the court likely have no idea as to what plots are
unfolding Qr what the c urrent goals of their leaders are.
Only very rarely are humans directly involved in these
plots, and even more rarely do they involve other shen
- willingly. It is not unusual for the Wan Kuei to
attempt to use the genteel squabbles of the Shinma
courts for their own ends.
The Shinma are understandably wary of the Wan
Kuei. The eldest among the Ten Thousand Demons once
denounced the Mandate of Heaven and caused the sunr
dering of the spirit world from the Middle Kingdom. The
youngest among them are often vicious, cruel, callous or
outright monstrous. The Shinma put down chih-mei ruth-
lessly, hold the young W&n Kuei at arms' length and
regard the elders from the time of the turning of the Age
with the utmost bitterness - and not a small amount of
fear. Trust between Shinma'and Wan Kuei, like the most
precious jade, is extremely rare arid exquisite. And it is
also easily broken.

T D.-,n.u
The Daityas and the Shmma are not very different,
from the perspective of the Wan Kuei; yet in the ways
that matter most to the hsien, it would be difficult to be
more unalike. The Daityas left their duties in the chaos
that fo llowed the judgment of the August Personage of
Jade. Noble and commoner alike, they found the pun
ishment meted out to be unfalli and the discernment of
Though the Shinma are capable of wielding great the August Personage of Jade to be flawed. As the
power, individuals only seldom attain uch lofty heights. creator of the Ten Thousand Immortals, it was his
The Shinma have duties to perform, duties that very responsibility to oversee their actions. A wise ruler
often lead them into physical danger or conflict with would have seen the immortals begin to fall; if he did
other shen. Their human bodies are fragile, and they no not, he could no longer be called wise. If he did see, a
longer have the freedom to travel the Middle Kingdom benevolent ruler would have interceded; this he cer-
in their celestial forms. Each death wipes the slate clean, tainly did not do, and tens of thousands suffered as a
requiring the hsien to strive once again to understand his result. Just as a human emperor iS" responsible for the
place in the universe. well-being of his subjects-their bounty is brought by
l45
the virtue and wisdom of the emperor, their suf-
fering caused by his foolishness and greed - so,
too, the August Personage of Jade must be held
responsible for the well-being of all creation. And
so, to punish the hsien, the Ferocious People and
those still virtuous among the Wan Xian for his
own blindness was at best unjust and at worst....
The very earth trembled under the weight of the
accusations.
Philosophical fervor alone could not protect
the Daityas from the enemies arrayed throughout
the Middle Kingdom. Like all the other hsien
stranded in the physical world, the Daityas were
utterly spirit- imbalanced, easy prey for creatures
balanced in Yin and Yang. In desperation, the
Daityas and other harried hsien turned to the
Yama Kings for protection. Bargains were made,
and deals were struck. As the corrupted power of
the Yama Kings began to writhe through the
spirits of the , many found themselves unable to
pay such a dear cost for their survival. Willing to
die rather than serve the Ya ma Kings in a mockery
of their former state, they threw off the demonic
investments and canceled the transaction. This
has eatned them the unending ire of the kings and
queens of the hells.
Unlike the Shiruna, who took the stolen fruits of
Heaven from a monkey-spirit as their protection, c:he
Daityas struggled to find a way to protect themselves
through their own efforts. When their survival looked
bleak, they at last mastered the art of Chl Equilib-
rium, which allowed them to ripple Yang and Yin Chi
through their spirits as the need arose.

DAJTYAS M~cs
To simulate the Daityas form ofChi Equi-
librium, use the Wan Kuei Chi Discipline
Equilibrium from Kindred of the East, with
the following change: Because the Daityas
store Yugen (undifferentiated Chi) and not
Yin and Yang Chi separately, the first level of
Equilibrium allows the hsien to temporarily
shift his permanent Chi virtues without the
listed three round activation time. The player
rolls Wits + Meditation, and each success
allows the hsien to shift one dot. The effect
lasts for a number of turns equal to the number
of successes.
The Daityas kept their elemental affilia-
tions; their nobles and commoners still align
themselves with the five elements. The Wu
Tan the Oaityas use is indistinguishable from
that used by the Shinma, except by the most
erudite of Taoist scholars. (See the Shinma
and the Wu Tan sidebar above for a brief
discussion of the Five Alchemies.)
JllOOD lit SJ~

Once survival was not their only immediate con - forth a new goal. The Emperor of the Middle Kingdom
cern, the remaining Daityas gathered to decide what cannot sit comfortably on his throne when he has lost
they should do. The Shinma, now their enemies, had the Mandate of Heaven - the Mandate passes to
already 1aid claim to rhe wild places and the lightly another, who will overthrow him. These Daityas feel
populated areas. The Daityas made their claim for the that the Mandate of Heaven rests now with the hsien,
cities; unwilling to serve e~ther Heaven or He ll, they demanding ~e overthrow of the August Personage of
would make their way among the humans, walking Jade. They are ready to make war on the heavens and
among the monals as gods. The worshipers in the temples to thwart the plans of the Yama Kings, as the universe
and shrines of the cities provided more than enough Chi itself demands.
for th Daityas. Protecting the people and answering
their prayers in the old-fashioned style promised to TM~Rt&-SAU
continue the bounty of Chi. Those Daityas less inclined The Kuta Sau once rebelled against the punishment
o present a st9ic froht admitted a fondness for the of the August Personage of Jade because they believed
humans, many of whom had fought just as bravely and that it was unjust. They turned their backs on the Celes,
desperately for survival as the hsien. tial.Bureaucracy to make a statement; but the only state-
Wiili their goal established, the Daityas set out to ments the Kura Sau are now capable of making are curses.
achieve temporal power. Their methods were, by necesr When the hsien went to the Yama Kings for protection
sity, distasteful. A Daityas with the good fortune to take from the enemies that surrounded them, the Kura Sau
the body of a dyil!g noble or a rich merchant would never looked back.
firmly establish hims~f in the dead man's role; then , The Yama Kings have upheld their end of the bargain.
quietly, murderously he woultl in't'ite other Daityas to The Shinma and Daityas were forced to learn balance to
join the family in the. bodies of freshly slain kin. O nce survive; the Kura Sau survive through raw demonic power.
this bloody wotk of generati6ns was accomplished, af- Survival cannot have been worth the terrible price the
fairs wents oothly. The human members of the families Kura Sau paid, however. Those who once walked as gods
adopte~b Ii e'Daityas know t!le source of their remark- through the spirit worlds now cringe and fawn before the
able fortunes, and most go )Villingly to the knife when throne,i; of the Ya ma Kings. There is little left ofwhat made
great-gratldfp.ther's boHy becomtS:s too frail to eontain the Kura Sau unique individuals - all they have been
the godlike benefactor. permitted to retain is raw ambition, sickening devotion,
Other Daityas, those with ilie greatest'" ability to the ability to feel fear and the willingness to cause it. The
remember their identities between bodies, struck out Wan Kuei of the Chinese mainland refer to the Kura Sau
more boldly for power. The hsien chose as targets minis- as the Gou Zhang, a phrase loaded with contemptuous
ters, imperial concubine~, princes or other highly placed nuances: war dogs, cursed swordbearers, mere thugs with
individuals; \:hey stalked, slew and teok ilie bodies of the~ the backing of powerful masters.
chosen vesse~. This W~S alway~ 3angerous - the timing
of the soul's m,ovement is both vitally important and
impossible to calculate, and such powerful individuals
were rarely unprotected. Still, the rewards for a successful
attempt were wo~h the ris!G the Oaityas have never held
the imperial tht"one of China ut they are never without
a representative in the mpe ial courts.
The strong presence of the Daityas in the cities of the
Middle Kingdom has inevitably rought them in o con-
flict with the Wan Kuei, They'have no quarrel wLth the
vast majority of the Ten Thousand Demons; they con-
sider the young among the vampires to have been unfairly
treated by the August Personage of Jade; just as the hsjen
were. Power struggles unfailingly arise when the Wan
Kuei victimize a member of the Oairyas' families, when
the Daityas assassinate and G,l aim the position of a Wan
Kuei pawn and when the Da'tyas answer the prayers of
those in conflict with the vampires. Wnen.. the Daityas
and Wan Kuei leadership in a city cannot agree to leave
each other's affairs alone, the citizens suffer greatly until
the clandestine war ends.
Dissension among the Daityas themselves is stir~
ring; now that temporal power seems permanently
assured, certain small but vocal factions are putting
141
~--------------.......................-------~~~
The Kura Sau are as removed from the natural flow Outside the Yomi World, the only beings who might know
of Chi in the world as the lowliest of the Wan Kuei. Just the terms of the bloody contract that created the Kura Sau
as a chih-mei gorges on human flesh, the demon worship- are the Daityas - and they are not approachable on the
ers can fill themselves with Chi by devouring corpses. matter. An individual may once proclaim to be in the
They prefer to harvest suffering - the Chi gained from service of the Yama King Emma-a and on another meeting
killing a h uman is more delicious than the cold, sluggish sing hymns of adoration to Mikaboshi. While clearly the
Chi of a corpse. The amount of Chi a Kura Sau can eke self-proclamations of the Kura Sau cannot be trusted, it
out of a dying human depends encirely on how long it seems entirely likely that servants with such easy access to
takes the unfortunate victim tc expire; a quick thrust the Middle Kingdom are prized trading chits amongst the
through the heart or snap of the neck releases only one Yama Kings and Queens. The missions of the Kura Sau are
delectable point of Chi, while a slow, thoughtful, tortur- often brief and violent and end with the destruction of the
ous murder rends all 10 points of Chi available from the agent's form. This matters little to the Kura Sau or their
vessel. The bodies of these carefully attended victims are masters; between sallies to the Middle Kingdom, the Kura
often put to another use. The Kura Sau are only "reborn" Sau bask in a hell designed for their pleasure. Their masters
into the bodies of the ritually murdered; any spirit that know that it can only be a short time before another
arrives to take-possession of the body owes the murderer mangled body appears for the plucking.
a favor for enabling his return to the Middle Kingdom.

.
The Kura Sau know this, of course, and take advantage
of this effect of their feeding to bolster their numbers , , . , . ~Tm F0U"1'ft ~I
where the scQ.emes of the Yama Kings permit. Some
humans have also learned this terrible secret and are
willing to sacrifice their fellows for the slim chance of
.., ......: ~,
A newl, reborn wood ~ Bai Lin tends a
eaming demonic favors. Any W an Kuei who dares to ~. sacred hidden in tQ,e ooercrowded capital
summon one of the Yama Klngs' minions in this way dt'J of Linan. ~ease in the 'bustle of the city, she i$
invariably puts herself on a short list of potentialakuma short tempqed U#t anyone who disturbs her work or
recruits and blackmail candidates; those vampires who threatens the gr~
have already joined the ranks of the akuma t read lightly Attn'butes: ~gth 2, Dexterity 2, Stamina
around the infernal politics inevitably involved. .f_, Clprisma ~nipulation 3, Appearance 4,
Th~ centuries in service of Yomi have mutated and P..erceetion 3, Intelligence 3, Wits 2
warped the forms of the fallen hsien. They have completely Al>ilities: Crafts 3, Dodge 3, Divination 2,
lost their elemental nature - the five elements will no ~athy 2, En~ 2, Etiquette 4, Expression 4,
longer pay heed to spirits so twisted - and cannot balance Medicine 3, Maee 2, Occult 2, Performance 2,
Chi in their bodies. Those Kura Sau in a constant state of Politics 3, Shentao 3, Subterfuge 2
Yang imbalance overflow with unearthly beauty and vibrant
energy; those imbalanced to Yin seem like shambling, rot-
'"an: Lin Tan (Wood Alchemy) 4, Nei Tan
{Internal Alchemy) 2, Shui Tan (Water Alchemy) 2
ting corpses. The only thing they share in common is the
Yin 4, Yang 6, Yugen 10, Tao 3, Willpower 6
demonic magic that holds them to their once-human bodies
and the scars those horribly murdered bodies bear. ~ ~. Yfl(-MPICllD Sl.&\4
Kura Sau filled with Yin Chi wield a warped equivalent w-Y.ot<~ ~(
of the Wan Kuei Yin Prana Discipline, while their Yang-
A seniant of the Yama Queen Tou Mu, Iron
imbalanced counterp;ms utilize an equally twisted Yang
Erlfreu of thtftel!of Being Skinned Alive, Zhanng
Prana. In both cases, the stylized movements and katas
typical to the Wan Kuei are optional for the Kura Sau; the
.Guilai trU ~China searching.for the skins that
~ ~t p~ liis mistress and removing them in
cursed hsien do not need to evoke and cajole the Chi powers
that are their very nature, but the focusing effects of the
fnfJtderous nuMl Those of ancient Wan Kuei are
a,.~'5J)elcum1 wluabk.
appropriate movements can be beneficial and are certainly
stylish. The Kura Sau may also have access to any or, often, Attributes: Strength 4, Dexterity 3, Stamina
all of the Demon Arts. Their Yang or Yin Mantle always ~. ~harisma 2, Manipulation 4, Appearance l,
~erception 4, Intelligence 3, Wits 2
appears to those with supernatural perception in the form
of the hsien's Godbody of the Demon avatar. Abilities: Alertness 2, Athletics 2, Brawl 4,
The black arts ofHac T ao are unique to the Kura Sau; Dodge 2, Enigmas 2, Etiquette 2, Expression 2,
the apotheosis of the form seems to be the unfettered Intimidation 4, Melee 2, Occult 2, Politics 2,
access to the heavens promised by the Shinma's Nei T an Sh.entao 3, Stealth 2, Subterfuge 3
Alchemy, but the path to the Kura Sau's celestial freedom Tan: Oodbody of the E>emon 3, Hae Tao 2,
is strewn with corpses and gruesome shortcuts. Yin Prana. 2
It is unclear precisely which of the Yama Kings warped Yin 8, Yang 0, Yugen 8, Mlpower 3
the Kura Sau and which of the Yam.a Kings they now serve.
_______............._____ _ _.....@
141 Jl1009 I! stu:.

C..,1 . . T&- The spirit of the Middle Kingdom sees and reject their
Magicians, men and women who transform the rebellious activity.
world by force of will channeled through ceremony and Western mages there ore always begin by petform-
ritual, appear in all strata of society, though never in ing vain magic as they enter the Middle King(fom.
large numbers. The Middle Kingdom includes many Native magicians-with similar practices may detect the
magical traditions of its own, gener~ly called Light- magical disturbance and offer explanations or may
ning People or chi'n ta. Magicians of the barbarian move to suppress newly arrived rivals. Repre~eo.tatives
lands also enter the realm of All Under Heaven, in of the Ministry of Works may also move to suppress
even smaller numbers than the magicians native to the foreign influences or to accept them under imperial
MiddleKingdom. Despite this diversity, the mages of sanction. H ow open local chfn ta are to foreigners
the Middle Kingdom operate under a organizational depends on the behavjor an<i potential usefulness (or
framework uniQlo:wn in Europe at the time. This frame- danger) of the newc0mers.
work, like many othei; things, dates from the time of the Regions outsidethe official 12.urvlewofthe Ministry of
Qin unification of China. Works (i.e. China) are a patchwork. The ministry has
.~ done its Y-ery best to extend its authority beyond strict
~Ill' IHPJ".E- &l(D 1'11 W JU. politic:d borders; mages in many areas bordering China
Emperor Qin Shihuangdi pondered the issue of (and the areas controlled.by the Jin dynasty) still submit
mages long and hard, since he greatly feared them as to the Chinese bureaucracy on thi.S matter. In other areas,
potential threats to his realm. In the end, after debate such. Koryo and "Nihon, native ministries inspired by
with scholars and members of a loyal society of wizards (but distinct from) the.Chinese model exist. Elsewhere,
called the Wu Lung, he settled on a scheme involving the more fluid rules of fatn and casual magic functioning
the Minist,ry 0 Works. The Minister of Works bears in Europe apply.
responsibility for establishing people's social cla,ss r ... Wu I -c;
and seeing that they perform the appropriate duties; -~
he works in conjunction with the Minister of the The most powerful society of wizards in the Middle
Census to record the list of subjects and their disposi- Kingd0m at the time of Blood & Silk is the Wu Lung,
tion. Henceforth, m~icianswere to register with the the so-called Dragon Wizards. These ancient mag s
Ministry of Works, to be on call in moments of control the Ministry ofW-orks itself, having successfully
imperial need and, in any event, to remain under maneuvered the Ghinese consensus to make them the
imperial scrutiny. arbiters of casual and vain m~gics. They practice a
The emperor didn't simply rely on bureaucracy. magical styl.e focused on complex rituals ~ml generally,
The Wu Lung backed up his decree with a potent surround themselves with aiJsand lackeys, seeing them-
ritual, decla(ing to Heaven that the Middle Kingdom selves as the rop of the political a:nd supemanital food
recognized and blessed the efforts of magicians in chain in the Middle Kingdom.
proper submissior:i to authority and that the empir:e The Dragon Wizards of th.is time have two separa e
cursed magicians who refused ro submit. While his goa~s: the maintenance of the ministry and, the pursuit of
successors through the centuries revile many of h.is thetr own agendas. To maintain the buleaucracy and
innovations, they almost all agree on this one. Each rituals that mak~thein the arbiters ofconsensus, the Wu
new emperor reQeats the ritual with aid from the Wu Lijng cooperate across China. Yoim.g ClisGiples often serve
Lung. It lapses qnly in extended periods of inter- time aSc m'nistry agents, loo ing for unreg'stered magi-
dynastic chaos. (Indeed, the chaos created by p olif- cians or ui>dating records of "proper" mages. The upper
erating numbers Of unregistered magicians is itself a echelons of the society run the ministry itself.
sign of a dynasty losing the Mandate of Hei,wen.) After centuries of dynastic change, the Dragon Wiz-
Since the time of the Qin1 the Ministry has effectivel,y ards see their ministry as largely separate fiom and supe-
been an organ of the Wu Lung. rior to any mortal imperial leadership. While they still
In terms of Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade (or require a reigning emperor to renew the ritual periodi-
Mage: The Ascension) rvechanics, magicians who cally, the Wu Lung hardly care who does so. The current
register with the Ministry of Works and obey imperial divided state of China appears to them to be just arlother
commands perform casual magic, whatever their par- dynastic shift; both th Song and the Jin accept the
ticular magical tradition. Even foreigne rs and barbar- ministry, and that's all that matters.
ians earn imperial favor through right action, aad their When it comes to their personal agendas, the Wu
magic thereafter operates in a frame of reference that L~ng's pretense ~~fooperation largely evaporates. lndi-
acknowledges the diversity of magical practice. Magi- v1dual Dragon Wizards plot against ~ach other with
cians who refuse to register or obey perform vain magic, highly complex sc emes and move against other magi-
even if their working would normally qualify as casual. cians with the sa~ precision. Wan Kuei, Xiong Ren
and other shen are occasionally useful tools r-fil these
battles. A Dragon Wizard and unliving mandarin may
14.9
find each other useful for a few decades and then part ~--------------~!!l!!!!!!!I!~-------~~~
Middle Kingdom, and physical beings - both mortal
ways - each feeling he manipulated the other. and shen - can affect ~hem. Mo.reals influence ghosts
For more information on the Wu Lung, see The indirectly, through offerings and ntuals that honor them
Sorcerers C rusade Comparnon. (or inauspicious acts that anger them), but many shen

~- ,.Z-- -....
W'u 1.-.c;
~19' OF"'IM
can see ghosts and enter their world.
Doing so, however, can be risky indeed.
Tt& YELL.OW' SPllUl(c;s: htPJ9'~ OF' Tiff DEAD
Tiart, a~ chi'n ta liW.near the old capital of Throughout much of the Yin World associated with
Changan, is obsessalwith the haroe!ting of certain Yomi- the Middle Kingdom, a single empire holds sway. Qin
tt'Jinted ~. He intends to use these in a grand ritual to Shihuangdi, the first Emperor of China, spent much of
acquire part af the Thousand Hells for his oum use. his adult life in the pursuit of immortality. He failed to
Attributes: Strength 2, Dexterity 2, Stamina find it anywhere in the living world, despite an exhaus
3,, Charisma 3, Manipulation 5, Appearance 3, tive search and vigorous persecution of everything he
Perception 3, Intelligence 5, Wits 3 thought might help. (Elder Wan Kuei still remember the
Abilities: Academics 4, Awareness 3, Enigmas pyl'es built to bum their wu-mates alive, the stakes set
!f, tiquette 4, htstruction3, Intimidation 4, Inves out EO greet the sun and all the other torments of the
tigarion 3, Leadership 3, Meditation 3, Occult 5, time.) In his terminal decline, he turned to study of the
Research 5, Subterfuge 4 afterlife. Assisted by a motley crew of magicians, west-
Spheres: Forces 3, Life 2, Matter 3, Spirit 4 facing Wan Kuei and other advisors, he succeeded in
Arete: 51 Willpower: 9, Quintessence: 8 ti:ansferring his own soul and a great many guardians and
servants into the Yin World.
Chinese tradition refers to the Yin World as the
o~ LJc;H11CJllc; -PEoPll Yellow Springs, the wells underneath the earth where
The Wu Lung are far from the only magicians in the dead gather. When he arrived there, Qin Shihuangdi
Asia at the time of Blood & Silk. A variety of wise adopted the new name Yu Huang and set about building
women, tribal shamans and ancient wizards litter the a new empire. It took him centuries, but he and his
supernatural landscape, although they are never truly Imperial Guard had centuries to spend. His living advi-
numerous. Some are capable of minor blessings and sors had helped him create a small army by working
curses, while others can wield spectacular effects on par special rites on the terra cotta statues set to guard his
with the Dragon Wizards. With rare exceptions, such as tomb; when he died, they emerged as active souls with
the (supposedly) Yomi-rainted wise-women of the Wu- distinctive powers and formidable raw srrength. The
Keng, these magi do not belong to large-scale societies imperial Guard became the nucleus of his empire. Yu
and follow the principals of their own system of belief. Huang declared himself emperor of all the lands of the
Most register with the Ministry of Works and pursue dead, master of his new Jade Empire, and proceeded to
their own isolated goals. They deal with the Hungry tum ded~tion into reality.
Dead and other shen when the need arises, although The Jade Empire covered all of rhe Chinese lands of
rarely on anything like an equal footing. Most are either
the Yin World by the end of the Han dynasty. Yu Huang
reverential (using their skills to honor deceased ances- took great satisfaction in continuing to hold his empire
tdrs and nature spirits or to appease the Hungry Dead) or intact while the living dynasty that had displaced him
confrontational (trapping spirits for their own uses).
crumbled. In the centuries that followed, the Jade Em-
The Sorcerers Crusade Companion has more infor- pire continued to grow, to take over communities of the
mation on mages in the Middle Kingdom, although set at dead who came from other nations. Chinese ghosts
a later date. received generally cai::eful attention from Yu Huang,
YirJHS since he wanted to rule them, not destroy them. The
ghosts of the Conquered Territories fared worse: To Yu
Assuming she isn't bound for Yomi, when a mortal H uang they were (and still are) so much raw material for
dies the Hun and P'o go their separate ways, reaching his loyal servants to soulforge.
Heaven and fading into the oblivion of the deep Yin Yu Huang's greatest strength is probably his aura
World, respectively. For a minority, however, the two of invulnerability. During the Han period, when he
souls remain together in the Yin World and the departed was still laying the foundations for his Jade Empire, an
becomes a ghost. Such a -state usually reflects some unparalleled threat faced the entire Yin World: an
lingering attachment to life and identity, often on par invasion from Yomi. The Yama King Lung Wang
with the obsessions that force Wan Kuei out ofYomi to came.out of Hell to make the land of the dead his own,
take the Second Breath. Ghosts are not vampires, how- and it seemed that no one could stand against him.
evet; They have no physical selves and live entirely in The Imperial Guard fared better than most, but even
the Yin World. They can observe and affect the physical they could only slow him down. Yu Huang could do
more. Armed with a great sword of jade, he
faced the Yama King in single combat deep in
the raging Tempest of the Yin World and
emergea victorious. This triumph is still lauded
and studied by the dea -and the Wan Kuei.
Yu Huan g set about buiJding a new ~alace,
a Jade Palace to the rule the Jade Empire, in the
Tempest. He also authorized the Great Lmpe-
rial Highway to connect the new palace with
the old one in Changan's Mirror Lands and
followed that with an artificial hell called Ti
Yu. Lt mmds on a .huge rocky outcropping
protruding from Yom into the Yin World.
11\ere, Yu Huang can ar;ange for sou ls to face
eternal torment withbut losing control of them
to the Yama Kings. (See Doomslayers: Into
the Labyrinth and The Thousand Hells for
complementary portrayals of the Yomi World,
the realms beneath the Jade Empire.)
The Conquered T ~rritories-foreign lands
brought under Yu Huang's rule - now stretch
from Tibet to Japan, from Siberia to Annam,
and have for centuries. Revolts break out peri-
odically - three Great Revolts have posed
serious challepges to Yu ,Huang's rule, along
with scores of fess signif cap.tones. So far, Yu
Huang 9as managed to rega_in control each
time. There are plentiful enclaves in the Con-
quered :Yer itories that exist largely free of his
rule, however. '3y re~aining hidden and foster-
ing alliances with Yin-aspected Wan Kuei,
these free ghosts manage to survjve and honor
their o n t11aditions. The gteacest of these
enclaves exis in hlihon, including Kamakura,
rhe seat o the hogunate (described in the
Appendix, seep 65).
SPlqu oFn. DUD
The spirits o{ he departed-come in a wide
variety of shap~ and sizes. Most appear as
wraithly versions of their living selves; made-of
Yin matter, they still seem like farmers, soldiers
and kings, usually dress din ways appropriate to
the time of their deaths. But wraiths are made
from a form of Yin, and some of the dead learn
to shape that material in many ways. Some
ghosts appear very inhuman, either because 0f
their savage nature (such a& the mindless kuei)
or because others have reshaped them to serve
some inhuman function. In fact, ghosts are.even
"forged" into White Jade, a gho tly material
used for many functions in the Yin World. The
conquered dead of the Conquered Territories
are often fodder for the forges.
Those ghosts who do not suffer such an
abysmal fate usually organize themselves into
Cwn~ S,I(: ......,. . . ..... @
---------------- 151
extended families. Kinship relations from life survive of the Yellow Springs, and the Jade Censors granc very
in death, and distant cousins become close allies in the few permissions. The reality, however, is that imperial
Yellow Springs. Beside the imperial bureaucracy, these authority is less secure here than in China. Wan Kuei
families are the main social structure of the afcerlife. who deal with local wraiths regularly slip into the land
Confucian sentiments about filial piety strengthen the of the dead without drawing attention to themselves.
families, and various forms of ancestor worship allow Wan Kuei also have another way to deal with
the living to aid their deceased kin in the.afterlife. ghosts without risking imperial ire. Using their
Chinese families are in a much better position than G hostsight and spirit speech abilities, most Wan Kuei
foreigners and are able ro rise ro po. itions of prominence can communicate with ghosts who lurk near the living
and influence in the empire. For exam~le, the Qieming realm without themselve.s entering the Yellow Springs.
family currencly enjoys a virtual stranglehold on the ranks This communication, while somewhat frowned upon,
of the Imperial Censors in the area of Yellow Springs is not an imperial crime. Most Wan Kuei who deal with
bordering on Linan. The Censors are responsible for the Yin World do so in this way, unless they truly must
keeping track of new arrivals to the Yin World, and the access the Springs themselves. Note also that, much as
Qieming have an understanding with some local Wan he would like them co, Yu Huang's laws do not apply to
Kuci to allow for easier access in exchange for payments the other Yin Realms.
of jade or various favors. Nihonjin and other "foreign"
families are less lucky, but they too exist, often as the
underpinnings of anti-Chinese resistance.
Pages 214-216 of Kindred of the East detail several
types of ghosts from the Middle Kingdom. These are stil I
viable in the Blood & Silk era. Page 217 of that book
also i;ummarizes the basic abilities of wraiths, for those
who do not want to use the full rules available in Wraith:
The Oblivion.

YIMC ~OIJ AICD TM Yw.oW' ~c;s


Yu Huang does not approve of the Wan Kuei. While
he lived, many of them challenged his authority and ideas.
Now, those skilled in the ways of Yin have a frustraring
ability to come and go through the empire. The Jade
Emperor does not like those who flout his authority.
The Jade Censors are responsible for regulating the
Ten Thousand Demons' access ro the Jade King<,lom.
Wan Kuei who wish to travel the Yc llow Springs legally
must: petition a Censor and receive proper documenta-
tion. In most areas, the proper way to do this is to enter
the Yin World through a powerful Yin-aspected dragon
nest (such areas are monitored by the Censors). The
applicant must then seek permission and pay a vanable
quantity of jade. Ease of access varies wildly from area to
area and from Censor to Censor. Some have longstanding
arrangements with well placed Wan Kuei - especially
Bone Dancer mandarins - and grant access to those
who come with a recommendation from those elders.
Others apply a harsh egalitarianism and insist that the
petitioner prove that her journey is necessary. It is, of
course, altogether possible co enter the Yellow Springs
without permission, bur imperial law mandates a death
sentence for Wan Kuei traveling without proper papers;
the imperial authorities have to catch up with such
criminals first, of course.
In the Conquered Territories, the situation is theo-
retically much harsher. Yu Huang's law demands an
imperial escott accompany any Wan Kuei in these areas
152
~~~~~------...._----------------~
Mollt1&U Al(D DEMO.. ~s usually have a better understanding of the shen and the tr
The shen do not rule the night unopposed. Mortal behavior. They will realize that a new rice paddy has
men and women can and do resist the predations of disrupted the flow of Chi and angered ch local spirits,
Wan Kuei, rhe rages of Xiong Re n and the whims of for example. lngeneral, it is knowledge of proper behav-
ghosts and Shinma. Mose commonly, humans deal ior, not supernatural power, that enables these holy men
with shen through ritual. They honor the ir ancestors, and women to act. Some do have access to special
they have a care to avoid a cursed temple or forest, abilities, however.
they pray to the gods or spirits of the area. These are
not hollow rituals - Xiong Ren and Shinma take
such respect very seriously and as indications of which
humans deserve their protection and which deserve
their ire. Ghost derive di rect sustenance from many
of these actions, feeding off the e motions of chose who
pay their respects and gaining material benefit from
items left for their use. Even the Wan Kuei see respect
from mortals as proper, and it can curb excessive
feeding or violent outbursts.
These daily riruals and behaviors do not entail a direct
understanding of the shen, however. The farmers in a
village may know that local spirits or gods inhabit a
mountaintop and expect respect from the humans who
cultivate the land it overlooks. They do not know chat the
mountaintop is a Yang-aspected dragon nest guarded by a
Thrashing Dragon or a Hakken.
When humans need a mure director complex inter-
action with The supernatural, they usually tUl'.l\ co a
monk or priest (or sometimes a wise-woman or shaman,
depending on the area). These men and women of faith
~Sfx.s '...,...-Smc
<------------..............-...-----~~~153
T"M S..,tt
Beyond the abilities of a local priest exist the Shih, 81.R;tts AN,D '"~El\&
an ancient order of demon hunters. The Shih trace At the time of Blood & Silk, the Wan Kuei and their
their o rigins back to Yi, the Excellent Archer, who fellow shen can exist under the illusion that they stand
imposed the curse of sun,rot on the Wan Kuei. Once, alone in the supernatural landscape. There are stories of
the Shih even srood as an army of demon hunters, but barbarian vampires and other Night People who live in
this led to corruption and failure. For the last rwo the wild lands far to the west, but actual contact is rare. In
millennia, the Shih has been a mendicant order. Lone India, actual intermingling occurs, but that is a border
demon hunters wander across the Middle Kingdom, area seen as less than civilized by most"proper" Wan Kuei.
training one or two disciples and acting against shen Occasional visitors do pop up, but they are oddities from
who step put of line. foreign lands, nothing more.
The Shih are not fanatical i.pquisitors. lnstead, they This delusion of iso lation cannot lase, of cour e. The
act only against shen whom they feel have overstepped rise of the Mongol Empire in the years co come will spread
their bounds. Cannibalistic chih-mei and raging kuei the sh.en across the Old World. The countervailing rise in
ghosts who somehow affect the.mortal realn;i are com- European fortunes during the Renaissance wilt bring
mon prey. More insidious evils - such as the Scarlet Cainites and others into Asia in increasing numbers.
Screens of Wan-Kuei or the plots of the Yama Kings - Conflict (and even some cooperation) is inevitable.
are largely beyond their purview. If such activities come Most of the Wan Kuei greet contact with such
to their attention, however, they will act. "deba ed" creature as hi~hly inauspicious (and a sign of
Th Shih sense the ruming of the Age. For some, the the Fifth Age), but for Storytellers, such encounters are
low slip into the Fifth Age is a great defeat for an order rich with potential. Thil> section provides you with an
bent on protecting humanity from.monstrous attacks. overview of East,West contact (the framework for su-
Reports of demon.hunters committing suicide - either pernatural encounter ) and notes on the supernaturals
in quiet isolation or by attacking ovenyhelming odds- likely to journey to the Middle Kingdom in the cwilight
have surfaced among the order and in the courts of the of the Fourth Age. This section extends its focus forward
shen. Most Shih, however, see the change of Ages as in time from the basic Blood & Silk date of 1197 CE
another cha1lenge they must face - they fear that the both because the majority of East-West contact occurs
Wan Kuei anti Xiong Ren will go mad in the years to after that time and to make the section more useful for
come and are watching them closely. A good number of Storytellers of Mage: The Sorcerers Crusade, which
Shih have taken on this special duty, observing an area deals with the Renaissance.
of supernatural activity and reporting their findings co
others. Whereas a century ago, a Shih might occasion Coa(TACT' YI,,.... nt1- Wur
ally wander into a Wan Kuei's territory, now most The Middle Kingdom has never stood in splendid
ancestors have at least one demon hunter hanging around isolation, removed from all contact with the outside
taking notes. [ashfng6ut at these watchers only tends to world. Merchants, missionaries and other travelers
attract more of them, so most shen elders do their best to crossed the interior wilderness of Asia and made their
guard their secrets from prying eyes and hope the Shih way by sea around the continent. Popular awareness of
will wantler off eventually. these contacts varied, from total disregard co widespread
fascination; in some ages, almost all knowledge of the

...,....,LJTJH world beyond the mountains and deserts disappeared,


while in others, it was the talk of courts and public
> Shih are all fearsome, if mortal, warriors. In squares everywhere.
game terms, they all have Melee, Martial Arts and C
Occult of 4, at least. Watchers have similarly high ..__OM TM EC;N..._,..c;
observation Abilities. The Shih can also cap their Most contacts between Europe and China (and the
Chi through the use of arts known as Qiao (or rest of the Middle Kingdom) took place at one or more
Bridges). A simple way co represent the Qiao is to removes. At the height ofthe Roman Empire and the Han
give Shih the three or four dots in Wan Kuei Chi or dynasty, the eastemmOlit marches controlled by Rome lay
Soul Disciplines; they may also have a single dot in only a few hundred miles from the westernmost Chinese
Black Wind or lron Mountain. Kindred of the East, outposts. Throughout most of history, however, goods
p. 217, provides other guidelines. and inf6rmation moved through the hands of intermedi-
Much more complete information on the Shih, aries, particularly the Turkic and other nomadic peoples
and complete rules for their Qiao, appears in World of inner Asia. Greeks and Romans knew, for instance,
of Darkness: Demon Hunter X. that silk came from some eastern land but knew nothing
of how anyone made it and nothing about the people who
practiced such mysterious arts.
U4
" %W ~----------------11!!1'11!~,_,.._...,__~~~~~
Even the names classical and medieval European
scholars applied to distant lands came filtered through
multiple languages and lacked any real context.
"Seres," "Sera" and "Sina" appear in the chronicles of
Pliny the Elder, Ptolemy and other scholars of the first
few centuries of the Christian era. Even the linguistic
roots of "Seres" and "Sera" are obscure. "Sina" can be
traced clearly from the Chinese. The s~bjects of the
Qin dynasty referred to themselves as Qin-jen, the
people of Qin. The name passed across Asia as "Cina"
to become "Sina" in the hands of European writers.
(Centuries later, Chinese translators of Buddhist docu-
ments from fndia failed to recognize its origins in
their wn language and rendered it as "Chih-na.") In
630 CE, a Byzantine author named Theophylactos of
Simocatta wrote an account of "Taugast" containing
details that can be confirmed as actual events of
Chinese history and details of Chinese geography.
Nobody realized cha Taugast was the same place as
Seres or Sina. The name may come from that of a
nomadic royal fami\y as filtered through Turkish or
may come from somewhere else altogether. For the
next 700 years, Theophylactos' account was the most
reliable available. in the West.
Chinese scholars learned more about Roman soci-
ety and its successors. They filtered it all, however,
through the firm conviction that China was the center
of the universe and that no bat:.barian kingdom could
challenge it's supremacy. Anything worthwhile in the
outer lands must have come from China at some point;
by defifiition there c6uld be no fundamental innova
tion among those so far removed from the center of All In 1245, Pope Innocent IV se,-tds a Franeiscan monk,
Under Heaven. The name ''Da Qin' somehow atr Giovanni de Plano Carpini, to the courr-of the Mongol
cached itself to the general idea of a distant barbarian Khan. Giovanni travels with two fellow Franciscans,
kingdom, along with the names "Li-kan'' and "Fu-lin.'' Lawrence ofPortugal and Benedict of Poland, and c'arries
Chinese writers didn't distinguish between them; vari- two papal bulls. One explains Christianity to the Khan
ous accounts suggest stories of the Eastern Roman and invites him to convert, the other points out the
Empire and various successor stares. wicked folly of making wars on other nations and com-
Ideas in art and technology moved independently mands the Khan to cease. Guyuk Khan (Ogodei's succes-
of knowledge about distant lands. Paper, spices, bridge- sor) responds with something short of delighted accep-
building techniques and many more skills gradually tance, telling Carpini that Mongol conquest is effectively
ended up in the West, while Hellenistic art styles God's will - ifnot, how could it occur? - and invites the
passed through India and eventually influenced Chi- Pope to submit.
nese schools of design. The Pope finds the Franciscans' reports discouraging
and alarming. In 124 7, he sends a new mission under the
r. DA,l\t::. Ac;o: Mo~ Al(D ~ Dominican Ascelin. Ascelincomesclose to executionfor
It is the rise of the Mongols, initiated by their first insubordination but wins rescue and support from
great ruler Genghis Khan in the early years of the 13th A1jigiday, an emissary from the Great Khan. In the years
century, that launches a ne':Y era of East-West contact. since meeting Giovanni, Guyuk Khan realized the impor-
The Mongols move into China (and eventually conquer tance of working with Europeans against their common
it all), but also move west. Undet: Ogodei Khan, Genghis' Muslim antagonists. Unfortunately, by the time Alj igiday
son and successor, the Mongols move into the Middle meets Ascelin, Guyuk Khan is already dead, on the eve of
East and Eastern Europe. They tum back from Vienna in civil war with his brother Batu. So Alj igiday lacks any real
1241 not because of European resistance, but because authority for his assmance of protection for Christians
Ogodei's death forces them to fall back and deal with under Mongol rule and his offer of help in retaking
matters ofsuccession. Obviously, Europe can be oblivious Jerusalem. Batu spends the next {ew years consolidating
to the East no longer. his authority and arranging an appropriate puppet Great
Cum~ Sfx.: ~AND SttlM @~---------------155
Khan. ln 1248, another Dominican mission led by An,
drew of Longjumeau meets with Guyuk's widow, Ogul ~o..-~
Garnish, acting as regent until a new Great Khan can be The Wheel of Ages turns on. ln 1197, all but a
chosen. She sends a short memorial to the Pope praising dedicated lunatic fringe among the Wan Kuei agree
peace and demanding tribute, whtch puts an end to that it's the Fourth Age. By 1644, when the first Qing
munediate hopes of a new Crusade. emperor reunites China after a period of civil war,
The various missions from the West confinp che nearly all Wan Kuei agree that the Fifth Age has come.
existence of substantial Christian communities in the In between, the Age certainly changes, but few Wan
East, even if most of the Christians there are Nestorians Kuei agree on precisely which events matter most.
and other heretics. Indeed, some htgh,ranking Mongol Events among mortals provide some commonly
officials hold to Christianicy, including the chancellors of favored markers, most especially the rise and fall of
the Great Khans who receive Giovanni de Plano Carpini the Mongols (and their Yuan dynasty). Wan Kuei
and his successors. In addition, several of the monks write who support the Mongols see the decline of the
widely circulatcJ accounts of their travels, which keep up empire as a sign of the Age changing thanks to the
public interest in the whole matter. Khan's lotS of Heaveq's support. Those who identify
ln 1254, Franciscan William of Ru brick leads a new themselves with China see the Mongols as Heaven's
mission east. He meets with Mongke, Guyuk's newly scourge, smashing failed institutions before them,
crowned replacement as Great Khan. Mongke and his selves collapsing. Many Japanese gaki regard the
brother Hulagu listen carefully and not only express an Mongols as a harbinger ofthe Fifth Age they repelled
incerest in Christianity but commie: serious military forces and feel a lasting binemess roward their Chinese
aga mst Arab governments. In 1257, Mongol armies march counterparts for succumbing and dragging the world
across Mesopotamia, smashing Assassin strongholds as after chem. The gaki conviction that they did not
they go. The next year, the Mongols take Baghdad and earn the Fifth Age taints relationships all the way
crush che Abba id Caliphate. Hulagu leads his armies forward to the modern era.
through Syria in 1259. Nesrorian Christians receive many
ofthe appointments to Mongol,dominated regimes in the
conquered lands. The Egyptian Mamelukes stand as the
In 1291, Franciscan John of Monte Corvino sets out
only Muslim government anywhere In the Middle East. to visi~ the .court ofKublai Khan. He spends time in India
along the way, and by the time he arrives in 1294, Kublai
Fi(.oM 1'111 D.ut.~ Ac;u n> 1'111 "8'&J~a is already dead. Timur Khan listens carefully, and high,
At that point, Mongol attention rums elsewhere. In ranking Mongols, including some members of the Great
1260, Mongke's younger brother Kublai becomes Great Khan's family, convert to Christianity. Deaths in battle
Khan and concentrates on conquests in China. In 1271, and by disease cut shQrt many ofJohn's gains, however. In
Qubilaideclares himself Emperor ofChina and founds the l307, Rome notices John's work and be is appointed
Yuan dynasty; in 1276 the last remnants of the Southem Archbishop ofKhanbalik. His successors carry on, build,
Song dynasty fall before it. Qubila1 orders twoartempts at ing a cathedral and establishing secondary churches
invading JJ1pan, in 1274 artd 1281. Both fail; the second throughout China. They continue to find more success
ends with the ruin of the Mongol fleet in the original among Mongols and the very diverse foreign population
kamikaze. or divine wind. than among the Chinese thernsejyes.
Mongol contact with Europe also slows in the lace in The early missions do not make tall the way to
the 13th century because civil wars tie up troops that China. Giovanni and William write-a out Kitai (the
would otherwise reinforce and extend Mongol victories name that provided the source for "Cathay") as a
in the Middle East. Furthermof'i , ar the times wl:ie.n remote and my terious place, home to the usual collec.,
Mongol leaders call for Western assistance, the recipients tion of facts, misunders.tandings, rumors, legends and
arc distracted by their own rivalries. Civil wars, dynastic outright fabrications.
strife and the untimely deaths of key visionaries keep Marco Polo does reach China. His father and brother
Euro(Jean armies from ever organizing to march in coor-- win ttading rights with Kublai in the 1260s; in 12 71, they
dinac1on with the Mongols. Ed.ward I of England devotes set out again, taking with them the 17,year,old Marco.
himself in the 1280s to settling conflicts within Four years later, they reach Kublai's summer court in
Christendom and organizing a new Crusade, but too few Shangdu, north of Beijing. Polo studies the languages of
of his peers care to join him. By a narrow margin, Islam the area and acts as Kublai's emissary on several occasions.
survives the Eastern assault. In 129 1, the newly chosen After the. Spng dynasty finally collapses in 1279, Khan
Oljaitu Khan converts to Islam, and thereafter, the Mon, business takes Polo throughout China. In 1292, Polo
gol presence in Persia, Ru sia and Turkestan becomes leaves C hina by sea, returning home to Venice in 1295.
increasingly Muslim. He fights o n the losing side in a naval battle between
Venice and Genoa, and spends several years in jail. ln
1298, he dictates his memoirs to a fellow prisoner.
156
~~~--------iiiiiiiiiliiiiiiiii-----------------~
Polo's Description of the World vastly multiplies the it gets to the point where a vampire reveals that he bums
quantity of Western information about China and pro- in the sun instead of rotting, he probably has more
vides the first eyewitness accounts. Unfortunately for pressing problems than culture shock.
Polo's ~eputation, tra~slators and _copyists a?d their own Likely candidates for journeys into foreign lands are
embelhshments, burying the amazing truths in falsehoods scholars and refugees. Cainites and Wan Kuei have more
of all kinds. than enough of both, from curious Cappadocians to
In the second half of the 14th century, the medieval accused akuma seeking refuge. They all can end up in the
contacts trickle off. The collapse of the Mongol Empire territory of a wholly other type of vampire, but they must
removes institutional support for missionaries in China. still deal with the barriers to understanding.
In 1369, Christians are expelled from Beijing, not to
return for more than 200 years. Resurgent Islam cuts off T VJW' ~OM' 111 EAST"
the land routes and makes the sea routes more dangerous. From a Wan Kuei perspective, Cainites are almost
The Mongol Tamerlane wipes out all the major strong- by definition lesser creatures. Vampires are not immune
holds ofNestorian Christianity in the 1370s. By the end to the cultural chauvinism of the era, and they look
of the century, East and West have again drifted out of down on foreigners. The Wan Kuei focus on Dharma
contact. also creates a gulf berween them and the Cainites. Other
The Chinese send out few travelers and have no philosophies - be they Cainite Roads or mortal faiths
equivalent of Polo's chronicle. Living in contact with and - are difficulr to accept, and European attempts at
then under the authority of the Mongols brings ideas and conversion only make matters worse. As far as most
information to China, however. Merchants and ministers Asian vampires ace concerned, their Western "cousins"
alike circulate in the Middle Kingdom, where native sages practice debased or nonsensical beliefs that have no
study them. Chinese scholars show more interest in mate- hope of staving off Yomi; hence, they must be degener-
rial achievements than Western philosophy (which must, ates, at best equivalent to hin.
by definition, be inferior). Chinese maps of the late 14th Meetings with Western Cainites only confirm these
century include fairly accurate portrayals of Europe and impressions. The first European Cainites most Wan
Africa, with up to l 00 European place names. Kuei meet are Cappadocians, Lasombra and Salubri.
The Cappadocian s resemble poor imitations of the
thJR,S OF" TM BLOOD: CAJtURS Bone Dancers. The Lasombra seem like what the Re-
At the time ofBlood & Silk, contact between Cainites splendent Cranes might be if they wallowed in debased
and Wan Kuei is quite rare. Direct contact between do<>trinal confusion for a few centuries. The Salubri
China and Europe is almost non-existent and few vam- remind Wan Kuei of the hated Zao-lot and are obvi-
pires are willing to make this arduous journey, even If they ously fit only for extermination. Some individual Wan
somehow know there is a goal worth reaching at the end. Kuei respond more favorably and quickly learn the
Border a reas like India and communities along the Silk wisdom of keeping their interests ccmcealed. Produc-
Road (like Kashi, seep. 167) do see some concact berween tive exchanges of information occur mostly on the
various types of vampires but not in sufficient quantity to fringes of the courts and in the nebulous border regions
seriously affect the world views of either Cainite princes no court controls very thoroughly.
or Wan Kuei ancestors. Contacts with some milltant Assamites make the
Kin-jin seem even worse, confirming Wan Kuei fears
about Cainite destructiveness and ambition. The ances-
tors of the western courts set aside their grievances with
the Mongols long enough to provide enthusiastic support
for attacks on the Middle East. Thus, Mongke and Hulagu
lead armies that enjoy supernatural intervention as well as
mundane success on the battlefield.
In the late 13th and early 14th cen turies, the Wan
Kuei meet more of the Cainite clans. Most Wan Kuei
couldn't care less about the details and have no interest
in clans any more than they have interesr in the
number of stripes on this variety of wasp versus that
variety.Wan Kuei sch olars catalog the range of demon-
strated Disciplines and theorize about the true origin of
There is no reason why a few hardy souls couldn't
the Cainires. (Most theories attribute the curse of
make the journey for the purposes of a truly global
vampirism to Zao-lot.) A handful probe more closely,
chronicle, however. Although the natures of Cainites
but they generalize from limited data and produce
and Wan Kuei are significantly different, caution on the
conflicting maps of the bl oodlines.
part of a traveler can hide these distinctions. After all, if
157
~~: ~.,- ~-------------------------_..~~~~
r .. V,lfW' A.ow 'l1flf Ylur SP~c; 'l1flf CHASM'
To the childer of Caine, the Wan Kuei pose no So many factors contribute to antipathy between
particular mysteries. It's a matter of common knowledge Cainites and Wan Kuei. Must all encounters between
that the clans scattered after the fall ofthe Second City. them therefore end in egotism and death? No. Under
Obviously, some of the Fourth Generation wahdered very various circumstances, Kindred of the East and the West
far indeed and developed thei'r own bloodlines with can coexist for a while, or even indefinitely.
characteristic Disciplines. No Cainite who's seen ad- Both communities of vampires include scholars, for
vanced Vicissitude in action finds the Godbody of Metal whom the pursuit of knowledge takes priority over con-
or the Godbody of Wood particu ar y startling. Dragon quest and the assertion of kingly prerogatives. Vampiric
Tear resembfes Valeren or even a 'Spt;cialized form 9f scholars seldom act for the sheer joy of knowing, of course
Auspex. So itgoeswith the other Disciplines: Yes, tht}y're - they simply plan to assert their own claims based on
unfamiliar9. but then, Cainites learn to deal with the superior insight and the advantages it gives
unfamili~r. It aU fit:.s into a single master framework. them. Thus, a Devil-Tiger who believes all
Nearlv all Wan Kuei Cainites encounter m ~~~~~~~~~Cainites must be destroyed allies herselfwith
these centuries drink._blood; it's easy to
dismiss the Dharmas...as ~fa that 1 ~ traveling Cainites for years on end, learning
their strengths and weaknesses by seeing
make grandiose claims. how they behave in various situations,
It is practical issues including what sorts of crises require her
that worry Cainites intervention. It's all tactical intelligence
encou terng that a sensible general would wish to
their longlo know before advancing on the enemy.
Eastern kin. Similarly, a Thousand Whispers seeks
Most of the tomingleundetectedamongCa~1tes1
Cainites who go east searching out whatever scraps of wis-
early on qo so for mis- dom the ignorant Westerners might
sionary, reasons, joining horde. Or a Bone Dancer finds the
their o'rtal brethren in necromancers and death magicians
efforts to spread the Chris- among the Cainites particularly
tian faith (and with it their interestingand adopts an approach
ownsgheresofmfluence). They to study ranging anywhere from
soon learn that wheQever they concealed observation to open
find enclaves of particularly hostile trading of lore. Or a Resplendent
resistance, they're sure to find melJ}- Crane decides that her duties as
bers of the losobloodlines lurki:ng1n the judge require the fullest investi-
shadows. Likewise, the politically moti- gation of the guilty party's cir-
vated neptia ors and economicallv-oriented cumstances and become en-
dealers who follow the missionaries find that meshed in the..concentric circles of
the ~tern vampires often promote the most Cainite society.
zealous1y . lationist'ana xen<(_Phobic views. Only the Thrashing Dragons are
'The term "Cathayan" co,nes into genera OHnite almost guaranteed to find nothing of
usage in the 1270s aS a convenient label for all the qstern interest in the Cajnite condition.
vampires. Crusading ampires,~pecially Brujah, Torea- Many factions among
dor and Vent ...militants, think that the eathayans Cainites also have reason to
should get a single chance to convert or be destroyed. pursue study rather than con.-
~hemers--af!\Ong the Furores think the Cathayans could frontation, at least for the
make valuable allies in the struggle against elders. (They're time being. Cappadocians
wrong, as all of the Dhannas inculcate a respect for age and (later) Giovanni,
and ach ievement and a lack of respect (9r noisy young- if they gain any
sters.} CeJUmercially mindedrvampires, especially the glimpse of the
ignoble, economically ofie~ted Ventrue (who will be- vistas of grave
come th main clan in ce turies to co e), see the andspiridorethe
Cathayans as exploitable targe of trade. (THey're wrong, Bone Dancers pos-
too few Cathayans wish: tq accept anything but tribute or sess, feel a pull to the East
to give anythin~ but advice.) EJders fear the Cathayans as like a moth to the flame. Cainite aristocrats of Ventrue,
they fear all J:\9Velty and~ to use the Cathayans as Lasombra, Toreador anel Tzimisce descent all study the
weapons in the Warof Ages. Few Wan Kuei oblige. means by which the WanKueiexerttheirauthorityand the
15~~~~~----iiiiiiiiiiii---iiiliiill... -------------(!) j
BLOOD

turn outward in search of information they could use to


It Sflf..

Sua~
advantage in the endless night struggle for power. They may
Saulot's clan deserves special mention. With the just as easily decide that the outsiders threaten all the mature
purges of their clan at the hands of the T remere, the vampires have worked for and, hence, deserve nothing but
Salubri are very likely candidates to flee east. In fact, immediate destruction. Elders and mandarins seek advan-
Assamite allies of the clan have been moving small
tage in masteryof the outsiders orsimply to understand them.
numbers to distant "Taugast" (their term for the Middle
Like their younger cousins, however, they can also find the
Kingdom) for some time. Unfortunately, the history (or
unfamiliar merely threatening.
myth) ofSaulot's dealings with Xue means they have to
be very cautious on Asian soil. By decree of many
ancestors, none of his offspring ever receive any hospi- M&c;u
tality from Wan Kuei except for the offer of a quick As the European Dark Ages give way to the Renais-
death. In practice, actual Wan Kuei decisions seldom sance, magesfrom the West arrive in the Middle Kingdom
conform entirely to proclaimed law. in far greater numbers. The rise ofthe Order ofReason and
Salubri receive cold but essentially courteous wel- the Nine Traditions creates an increasingly global frame-
come from Wan Kuei interested in studying the diffu- work of magical struggle, one that slowly draws in the
sion of their lore. Salubri Disciplines are fascinating Middle Kingdom's own magi.
perversions (or transformations) of the Wan Kuei heri-
tage, so scholarly inclined Hungry Dead who face north TM- 01t_Hlt, OF" "tASOt(
or west find much of interest. So do center-facing Wan When Westerners travel to the Middle Kingdom in
Kuei who seek to define their paths to enlightenment groups larger than a handful of monks, the Order ofReason
partly in conttast with what they're not choosing to joins the unawakened majority. The Cabal ofPure Thou~ht
incorporate. In turn, Salubri who show themselves comes to preach, following the path blazed by men like
willing to learn receive assistance in understanding the Giovanni de Plano Carpini and deepened by men like
traditions which their founder so badly misunderstood Matteo Ricci. The Celestial Masters come to study the lore
at key points. Rumor says that one or more Salubri of other cultures and to examine unfamiliar skies. The
actually awakened their Hun and P'o to become full- Craftmasons come to exchange knowledge. The High
fledged Wan Kuei; however, details somehow always Guild comes in pursuit of wealth. The Hippocratic C ircle
dissolve into "l heard it from the friend ofa wu-mate ...." comes to learn and teach. The Void Seekers come because
there are new lands and seas.
intellectual legacy of debate over theory and practice of
All the factions within the Order soon find the Middle
rulership. T '? Brujah, who cling to the old tradition of
Kingdom troublesome. They don't see themselves as magi-
philosopher-kings, the ancient depths o( Wan Kuei lore
cians (and aren't, on any level except game mechanics), so
seem almost itresistible. Devout Christians (and Muslims,
it never occurs to them that the Ministry of Works' ban on
Jews and pagans) who suffer from the Curse ofCaine regard
unregistered magicians would apply to them (seep. I 48). All
the Wan Kuei as a missionary challenge, and while some
the Daedalians know is that they have unusually bad luck of
launch their missions in holy zeal and self-righteous igno-
many sorts until they register as foreigners and agree to show
rance, others seek tostudy the beliefs and practices they want
appropriate submission.
to change. Artists of every clan examine the styles of their
distant cousins in search of fresh inspirations. Submission doesn't come easily to most Daedalians and
doesn't come at all to some. The traditional Chinese gesture
Most vampiTes on both sides realize that theiT alli-
of respect.to the emperor is the kowtow. The submitting
ances must be contingent and vulnerable. No m_atter how
individual kneels on the floor before the throne. He stretches
much trust they profess, imperatives deeper and older
forward three times and with each prostration he touches-his
than this particular partnership may require action. There's
head to the floor three times. The Wu Lung demand just such
usually nothing personal in it; it's just that when the
an act from magicians appearing before the Minister of
Blood or Dharma demands action, the friendly stranger
Works. Gabrielites in particular have no interest in doing
may have to die. A vampire or Cainite who realizes he's
this for anyone but a recognized saint; other members of the
revealed the wrong secret or discovers that his study
Order also decline. In some cases they can work out a
partner has an end he cannot condone can and does act.
compromise, given a great deal ofdelicate negotiation (and,
In addition, frenzy, fire soul, Rotschreck, shadow soul ~nd
at the Storyteller's discretion, a contest of Manipulation +
other vampiric disorders may drive partners to conflict,
even if their conscious wills remain in hannon y. Etiquette against Ministry of Works officials' Wits + Will~
power). When the negotiatipns work, the foreigners perfonn
A vampire's age makes it no more or less likely that he
a lesser act of submission - going down on one knee, for
will reach out to the other kind. Neonates and Running
instance - while ministerial officials record a properly
Monkeys often explore every interesting lead, but then,
perfonned kowtow. When negotiations fail, the ministry
others tum to tradition and conservatism as a way ofkeepjng
remains obstinate and nothing but abasement serves.
their mental balance after a painful and unexpected char}ge
Most often, the negotiations do go relatively well. The
ofcondition. Ancillae and j ina secure in their own situation
Wu Lung see in the Order of Reason a society of the
........lllllllJ!!l._..~.,....,.__,__....~11111!!!11"' ~------------------------~~~~
~I ~Co 'N'
quickly. The Akashic Brotherhood's common philosophi~
calrootsandpracticesmakeiteasierforWanKueitoaccept
"'
The m~ the Daedalerul.$ get ro know the Wu the Brotherhood: different, certainly, but not alien. Akashic
Lung, the less they like~thetrmethods. By about scholars disagree on the extent l:O which the Wan Kuei bear
1550, the Order't scholars of'. ~ical interference are responsibility for erecting and strengthening the Wall;
quite sure of thi"Bragon WizafdS' role in "fixing" the even those who blame the Wan Kuei for it all often favor
consensus. Theo.der'smore~l members decide a "know your enemy,, approacn.
early on that the Chinese E~ must fall and be
replaced by a more "progressive" (or even Western) c;41t.0U
govemftlent. (They lacer decide the same about Japan,
The Garou-che European and Near Asian werewolves
when s1gruficant aade with it begms.) The Crafonasons
:md High Gmld in particular undertake systematic - do have occasional cbntact with the.Wan Kuei. At the
subven;ion ofwhar they seeru; blindsuperstition through time ofBlood & Silk, this contact is hardly ~tensive, but
-~ superior engineering and gifts of wealth; later, the a few of the tribes are more traveled than their Cainite
Htppocraric Circle plays an i~t part in under~ contemporaries and so have run into the Hungry Dead on
mmmg popular support for traditions concerned .-ith a few occasions. These encounters become more common
medicine. The Order of Reason also finds lodll aid in as Western contact with Asia grows in the later medieval
the fonn of the Stone People, a kXl5e society of East and Renaissance Qeriods.
Asian magi opposed to the Wu 14>g' ways and inter- Most Garou take a simple approach co the Wan Kuei: lf
~ted m the new "rationalism." Mbre and more, the iii. drinks blood and rots in sunlight, it's a vampire. Vampires
Order cuts the D'tsgon Wizards out of the picture. violate the natural order of things. The Garou, as guardians
11le end finally comes after ~ fall of the Ming ofthenaruralorder,desnoyvampires. End ofstory. The Wan
dflll}St)' in the 17th century. When~e Wu l...ung ritual Kuei likewise generally cake a very simple view of Garou:
fa leers, the DacJaleans and Five Metal Dragons cooper- Ignorant monsters-who do not appreciate Heaven's will and
ate to shatter it entirely. The Qing emperors find a who prattle about subsidiary gods and goddesses as primal
Mtnt!>tr)I ofWorh mdisarray and choose notto reenact forces are menaces, to be removed. Those with some knowl-
the ancient ritual (or are unable to). The cechnocracic edge of the Beast COurts know that even the Ferocious
consensus begins,.to cake hold, and the Wu Lung go People look askance at their Western cousins.
further underground. Some Garou and Wan Kuei actually have shared
interests. Most particularly, the Warders of Men and east-
enlightel)ed bringing order to the barbarian West, just as oriented Wan Kuei meet in the cities and gathe~ spots
they have to the Middle Kingdom. The Dragon Wizards act ofcentral Asia. Both seek co protect humanity. Ifthey can
with full confidence that they are in the superior position agree that, as mutual protectors, they should poscpon
and that no consensus could ever exist that doesn't accept destroying each other, they can enter into some form of
their form of magic. collaborat ion. Ofcou~, if their respective kinds learn of
the alliance, both sides face, at best, tense demands for
r... r~mo explana ion; at worst, lmmediate death.
The magicians belonging to the Council <:>f the Nine Silent Striders sometimes exchange information and
Mystic Traditions generally feel no great interest in the even services with south-facing Wan l<uei. Such associa-
M1Jdle Kingdom. A few of the traditions have active tions seldom last long; there are too many conflicting
anapathies, whether of their own choosing or not. The assumptions and priorities. Still, Silent Saiders traveling
Ahl-i-Batin hate the M"ongol conquerors who come so through Asia do learn to sense the reso~ce in the Yin
dose to exterminating Islam and caking with it the cultural World that marks Wan Kuei passage and to ask or
framework for their craft. (Few of the Ahl-i-Batin are ~nswer) questions if circumstances allow.
Muslim in any serious sense, but their work draws on the Thrashing Dragons deeply confuse most Garou. The
ame traditions that Islam does.) The Chakravanti spring WanKuei are obviously dead, yet they participate in so much
from traditions that the Middle Kingdom frowns on: even of life, particularly when in permanent Yang imbalance.
where they share common inspirations, the Chakravanti Garou who encounter them tend to retreat in confusion or
interpret them in ways that horrif}rChinese scholars. Some attack in suspicion ofsome clever Wynn ploy. Among Wan
members of the Choeur celeste find in the Tao another Kuei, therefore, the shapeshifters have a reputation for
conception of God; many more regard Middle Kingdom enforcing some peculiar code Wan Kuei don't understand
religions as more snares and delu ions to be overcome. about what's "proper" and not for dead souls.
The Akashic Brotherhood, alone of the Traditions, Storytellers w hing to use an occasional Garou
flourishes within the Middle Kingdom. Younger members should cdnsult the above guidelines for Xiong Ren (all
of the tradition know little or nothing of the Wan Kuei, Garou are wolf-change~, like the Hak.ken). Those want-
while their elders carefully eng'age in polite exchanges of ing to make extensive use of them should consult
information and interpretation. The Wan Kuei often.feel Werewolf: The Dark Ages.
envy of the heights to which living mages can attain so
AP1'nD%X:
C~~~55 DF ?HS
DEAD
Ifa man take no thought about AJhat is distam,
he will find sorrow near at hand.
- Confucius, Analecr.s

The Middle Kingdom at the twilight of che Fourth were also situated near the fertile Yellow River and at the
Age is quite far removed from the life experiences of tenninacion of a great trade route that screeched for miles
most Blood & Silk Storytellers and players, which can across Asia to Antioch, Baghdad and Alexandria - the
make getting started a little difficult. ln order to give fabled Silk Road. Twelve crowded bridges crossed the
Storytellers some additional tools with which to city' moat, leading to 12 gates chrough rhe 40-foot walls.
jurnpstart a chronicle, this appendix covers some of the Exotic traders from the Westand the East met in Changan's
major cities in the Middle Kingdom ac the rime. Wan nine hubbub-filled markets, bartering woods, spices, pre
Kuei are largely urbari creatures, and these are some of cious metals, gems, medicines and uncountable other
the centers of their unlives. Any of the e locations can trade goods or selling them for coin. As many as two
be the center of a your chronicle or a port of call during milhon people lived inside and outside the great walls
your wu's travels. during the Tang dynasty.
With the end of the Tang tn 907 CE, the Silk Road
faded in prominence as the warring princes and tribes
attacked the merchant caravans t:o finance their troops.
The city of Changan, once the imperial capital, is
Changan's marketplaces dwindled in number to two;
fading graciously. The attention ofthe Son ofHeavenhas
everal of the city's gates were permanently closed for
been drawn away to the southeast, co the city of Linan; lack of use. The gates to the vast imperial City are also
Changan waits like a privileged consort of the Imperial
clo~ed; Changan houses no mortal emperor, and the
City within her high stone walls, hoping to once again chambers that once sheltered the Son of Heaven grow
draw the eye of the emperor before her beauty fades away. cold in his absence.
Liu Bang, the first emperor of the Han dynasty founded The chambers are not, however, empty. Upon the
che city ofChangan (meaning "long peace") in 206 BCE
deaLh of rhe final Tang ruler, the ancestor of the Yellow
co ~rve as the capital of his new empire. The citizens of
Emperor Court took possession of the imperial palace.
Changan quickly became prosperous; nor only were they
Mortals no longer pass through the majestic Chengtian
at rhc bureaucratic hub of a strong, growing empire, they
Gate into the Imperial City; only the Wan Kuei of the
162
~~~~~-------- .........._.........._______~----------------~~----~~~~~
city and those messengers or supplicants who bear ap
propriately sealed lerrers of recommendation may pass
the silent guards. While the city slides into quiet de-
cline, the Wan Kuei have greater freedom than ever to
live and move about as they wish. The city's wealth was
as much curse as boon w the scholars of the Yellow
Emperor Court; now, ages and students may spend their
nights in study and impenetrable seclusion, untempted
by the boisterous sounds of a thriving city, the smell of
spiced foods and wine or the lilt of song.

'-1c;trr-lliolu OF" CitaNc;AN


Many Wan Kuei left, of course, when the vicissi-
tudes of politics pulled the locus of power elsewhere.
Those who remained and those who now travel to the
Yellow Emperor Court are <led icated to the acquisition,
preservation and proper dissemination of the wisdom
and writings of the Wan Kuei. The Yellow Emperor
himself, Wang Hongben, and his wu-mates in the
Golden Jade Society lead the members of his court by
diligent example. He has personally recorded commen
taries on the Ki Chu~in and ocher sacred works; in
recenr years, he has withdrawn into nearly total seclu-
sion, concentrating on the translation and commen-
tary of a new discovery - an ancient vampiric work
written in a primitive style of kaja. In his consuming
pursuit of knowledge, Wang Hongben has delegated
most of the traditional duties of the ancestor, even the
greeting of visiting Wan Kuei, to the eager and indus
trious j ina and mandarins of Changan's other wu. His
distinguished visitors are, for the most part, under
standing - it is the wisdom earned from long study
that they have come co the Yellow Emperor Court in
search of, after all.
The composition of the court at Changan varies.
Students, both those fresh from the Second Breath and
chose who have come for long periods of study, are
organized into temporary wu. There are usually three or
four student wu at any given time. ln addition to the
GoldenJadeSociety, there are three prominentwuofjina
and mandarins who reside in the city: the Amber Wren,
:
the llluscrious Scribes of the Yellow River and the Bronze
Pennant. Each of these has the typical duties of instruct
ing young vampires along their Dharmic path and outside
responsibilities as.signed by the court. Lastly, there are
visitors and supplicants from all the lands of the Middle .,
Kingdom, who muse seek the approval of the Yellow I.
Emperor before craveling on to entreat the Sages of the
Fivefold Way who reside in the Shaolin Monastery - an
additional journey of 300 miles ro che east, and into Jin-
held lands. Many of these are turned back at Changan -
some of them having learned what they sought from the
sages of Changan, others instructed to seek further en
lightenment on their own before troubling the bodhisattvas
with unworthy requests.
(ilk I
{
1,
1 'I'
l1 I
THI T~H WU
~--------------............ --........~~~~~
venrures, buc rhewu's detractors claim chat the Amber
163

b 0 f ch Amb W ' bl Wren is granting favors and promises that are not its to
t
Th
e me.m e~
J e 7
er ~~~ ~re r~~~~ e
rEior oversCeemg t fi mess~ger~ u~t tz~ \ t e b e ~
0
deliver. The lllustrious Scribes have become the toast of
the town for their impassioned defense of their libraries
mpheror ~~tan oraul ~ntic~mg . ~ t~ ens ro~ t
0
and printing faci lities against unknown assailants. Frail-
b
y t ose see mgllto travbee frWoug Kor v~stth ehcourt. d e seeming Bone Dancer Tan Xuan alone defended the
court uses a sma num r o an ue1 w o ave un er- f k fr
taken the W ay o f t h e Lone W a lker as messengers, in
. wu's printing blocks,
.
rhe product of years o wor , om
. k Wht . hin
addition to an unusual number ofmortal traders and a few a flaming-swofrd ":1eldtnhg anac er. d d~ e not whts dg ~o
seem ungrate u 1 1or t e poems an mners oste in
dh
ampyr~ . ;wu
Tl1
1
h b
a~

ecomeq~tte
lrh thr h th
we.a ~ b ougfts ~
Y~;rs, as etrh car htrhcr~traT~rs enioy t ~ J~e 0 f ds
their honor, the Illustrious Scribes are beginning to
agitate for a full investigation into the attack on rheir
tte iger-~onhtro e anl
0
srh'"espilkassaRge td roWhug e holdings. And finally, the Bronze Pennantwu has swol-
e oa . en messengers are ms ort supp y, an h th
A mber W renstud enr- l1.ke lyone wh o h as been msolem len to a full dozen members, mucthto e consternation
. T.
. d. . of more diplomatic members of e court. 0 ev11- 1ger
orinattenriveroherstud1es-maybepresse mtoserv1ce W .A th F. O . . 1 t th
as a messenger. ei nzang, e 1rst ni, points impassive y o e
wu's long-standing tradition of allowing Wan Kuei
The Illustrious Scribes of the Yellow River are
pressed in co service co remain with the wu; meanwhile,
granted the great responsibility of recopying the scrip-
the courc begins to wonder iust how many martial
tures and works of the Wan Kuei for dissemination
throughout the Yellow Emperor Court and beyond. emergencies Changan could be having.
When necessary, the members of chis wu attend co the
Sages of the Fivefold Way at Shaoltn, to record che DHJ~(~o~ ;ttD,&l
bodhisattvas' infrequent sermons. A lucky student who The ferc ile shores of the holy Yamana River have
has proven himself diligent may be permitted to ac- been inhabi ced for millennia. In 736 CE, the T omar clan
company his sifu, co care for his brushes and ink and co of the mighty Rajpur family claimed the green hills as
run errand . The tudents are more often kept busy their own. They built opulent stone palaces and
perfecting their kaja brushscrokes or, lately, learning to earthwork fortifications and called their srronghold Lal
carve precise characters in blocks of wood. The Illustri- Kot; among the prizes within Lal Kot's sturdy walls was
ous Scribes have become enamoured with the concept the Iron Pillar, a relic from the time of Emperor Ashoka,
of block printing, which has been in use by the mortals famous for its pristine surface after years of exposure to
for three centunes; as a test, they have carved and theoelements. They raised a temple to the sun, the Suraj
printed the text of a short book of poems by the Grand Kun<l, high above the surrounding councryside on an
Arhat Xue, Footprints in Blood. The distribution of this earthen mound and piped in fresh spring water from the
obviously "mass" produced work has provoked heated mountains as a sacred offering. Less than a century ago,
<liscu~sion in courts across the Middle Kingdom. the Chauhan Raj put took Dhillika and the surrounding
The Brorue Pennant wu is led by the First Oni of the territory, pushing the Tomars back into the hilly wilder-
Yellow Emperor Court. The members of thiswu are truly ne s. The Chauhans built a fortress of ramparts around
fearsome; they wield an impressive array of weaponry their new acquisition and called it Qila Rai Pichora.
with deadly skill, are trained m the art of mounted lt was by no means unusual for the Rajpul clans to
warfare, and are pracciced wilderness travelers. Fearful make war on each other; in fact, that seems tO have been
rumors suggest that the Bronze Pennant wu even uses the source of their greatest joy. The clans of the Rajput
hand grenades and rockets. They are commonly Yang staked a claim to nobility and the right to rule by claiming
aspected, as even the best-tramed horses fear the cold their common descent from a mythical creature of flame
flesh of those aspected ro Yin. Membership in chis wu that rose from rhe sacrificial fire pits of Mount Abu; each
~wells in number in times of trouble; those who survive bore rhe name Agnikula, "fire family," in honor of their
are granted permission to remain wtth the wu, should fiery ancestor. The other clans and families of the area
they so choose. (the Rashtrakutas, Praciharas and Palas) were in no posi-
tion to dispute the Rajput claim to kingship, having
~\l&IJUES . .D D~
squandered their resources and manpower in decades of
This is the face that Changan presents to outstders. internecine fighting. Sweeping over all resiscance, the
Beneath the calm exterior, the city simmers with in- Raj put clans claimed vase tracts ofland, set up princedoms
mgue that might shock those expecting enlightened and fiefs and proceeded to fight amongst themselves just
detachment from Changan's inhabitants. Observant as their predecessors had done.
insiders have noticed the Amber Wren wu's coffers
The Rajput brought the art of princely war in India to
fairly spilling over since its members have taken over the
new heights. The meanest of princes took on fabulous
Yellow Emperor's communications with the other courts.
titles, recording themselves in court documents as
Wu Ltshan, Southern Wind of the Amber Wren, has
Majarahadhiraja, "king of kings." Stylized, poetic insults
publtcly claimed great success in far-flung ocean trading
14
~~~--~--------------.-.--------~
issued from luxurious throne rooms, and armies sallied
forth in reply. Muslim invaders from the northwest came
with astonishing regularity co loot and pillage richly
endowed Hindu temples and wealthy Brahman villages
- all in the name of religious piety, of course. The
invaders were forgotten as soon as they were gone, and the
military gam would begin again.
Only six years ago, in 1191 CE, the game ended.
Muhammad Ghori, a Central Asianprjnce, brought his
armies south through the mountains. He was nor inter
ested in carrying home golden statues ofheathen gods -
he came to build an empire. His armies consisted mainly
of lightning,fast cavalry; ilie Rajput forces sent out in
tidy lines and grand regalia to meet the invaders were
mercilessly cut down. By the nme the quarrelsome
princes of the Agnfkula perceived the danger,
Muhammad had claimed Dhillika and the C hauhan
region around it. His forces still ccupy the city itself.
The invaders have dismantled the Qila Rai Pithora and
are building a grand mosque-the first in India-called
the Quwwat-ul-Islam Mas'id in its place. Adding insult
to injury, Qutb-ud-din Aibak, a former slave turned
general, has begun con truction of a massive sandstone
edifice: the Qutb Minar, the Tower of Victory.

T"111-Ff~y.P~ote
The Rajput clans, although as fractious as ever, are
not without considerable resources. The story of their
heritage is true: The four main clans, the Pariharas, the
Chauhans, the Solankis and the Pawars, are, in truth,
descended fromacreatureoffire-a venerable Wan Kuei
who is called Pariksit. Decades of meditation on the
nature of Yang and drinking in the fiery Chi from sacrifi
cial flames came to culmination when the ancient vam
pire descended from the mountain suffering from a nearly
human need - the desire for kin. There was no shortage
of chieftains willing to give their daughters as brides to a
be.ing ofsuch obvious power, and so, the Agnikula came
to be. Through the interverung centuries, Pariksit has not
let his fields lie fallow; the continuing prominence of hot
tempered, highly skilled warriors among his descendants
- and a precious few who call upon sorcerous might - is
a telltale sign of the presence of dhampyrs. Now fu lly
aware of the riousness of Ghori's invasion, the Rajput
warriors will fight as though to regain their
kingdoms.
Pariksic - an elder of the heretical Dharma the
Flame of the Rising Phoenix- is i,ncensed by the inva-
sion. The Muslim forces threaten co destroy his grand
experiment; some Wan Kuei sages posit that the very
existence of such a multitude of descendents leading
focused, vibrantly entangled lives might create a reservoir
of Yang Chi for Pariksir co tap. The orher Wan Kuei in rhc
area have been reluctant to enter the conflict to this
point; the G hori armies are disciplined and dangerous,
and what have they to gain from Parik.sit's continued
prominence? This reticence may change: Pariksit has
165
~. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11!1!!1!!11.......""!!!!!'!!. . . . .----~~~~~
made a handsome offer for assistance in defending his found their entrance to the harbor hampered by the
children - the lron Pillar. The Iron Pillar is his posses Wakaejima, an artificially constructed island of jagged
sion; although it stands in occupied territory, no ocher rock; enemies approaching by land were forced along
shen would dare chink to claim it. lt is truly a remarkable narrow, winding paths carved from the stone cliffs, in full
object; roughly 24 feet tall and 16 inches in diameter ac view of platforms hewn from the cliffside to accommodate
the base. Wrought from the purest iron, the pillar exists so Kamakura'sdefenders. Yoritomo made it clear that he was
perfectly balanced in composition and shape between Yin in Kamakura to stay by relocating his family's ancestral
and Yang that wind, rain, sun, and time itself have not shrine, the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu. The village made
marred its surface. Pariksit, less interested in philosophies way for the Minamoto shogun ; Wakamiya Oji, the ap-
of balance than in the raw power of Yang, cares little for proach to the Minamoto shrine running straight from
the relic but understands its value. Hachimangu to the sea, quickly became the main street of
the new city ofKamakura. Samurai, those loyal to Yoritomo
and those visiting the ciry on the shogun's business,
Pariksit is not the only supernatural being with a stake worshiped the guardian deity of samurai warriors at the
in the invasion. Cainice vampires from the Wesr have shrine's Shinto and Buddhist ceremonies.
long coveted the raided wealth carried north on horse- Three. years ago, builders completed the main struc-
back. The occupation of Dhillika has granted the most ture ofYoritomo's newest shrine, Yokufuj i Temple. Hand-
ambitious W escem blood drinkers the opponunity to grab somely appointed with ponds, gardens and extensive
for that wealth - and power - at the very source. The grounds, the temple was butlt to provide repose for the
local Ravnos Cainites, whom Pariksit has long graciously souls of fallen warriors. At the temple's dedication, the
allowed to pluck scraps from his metaphorical table, likely shogun burned incense in honor ofhis brother, Minarnoto-
know more about these nighttime invaders than they no-Yoshitsune, and the many others who died at his
have chosen co divulge. brother's side, fighting in che northern provinces. In
There are few Wan Kuei confident enough - or response, the spirit of his brother came to reside in
desperate enough - to share territory with the oft-unpre Yokufuji Temple-but: not in repose.
diccable Pariksit. Of those few, the Thousand Whispers
currently known as Abhrayanti is most tempted to take the Y-1&~Duo
risk of acting against the invaders in return for access to the Yoshitsune's ghost was outraged. His brother, now
Iron Pillar. Abhrayanti has spent a full decade in her shogun, had been jealous of Yoshitsune's military victories
current incarnation, however, and must soon choose a new all through theGempei War. lcwas Yoshitsune, not Yoritomo,
per~na or risk falling from her Dhannic path. who drove the Taira family's warriors into the sea, and for
Another newcomer to the area, the Godl ing this, Yoritomo sent men to kill his brother. They failed.
Harasekhara, has quietly sec up a devononal cult among Although he fled to the north with his wife and children,
rhe lower castes. His followers might best be described at Yoritomo found him and again ordered his death. Yoshitsune
this moment as rabble, but their numbers are steadily gave his wife and children a kind death, then committed
growing beneath the notice of both Pariksit and the seppuku. To find his soul, not five years later, drawn to
Muslim invaders. Such a force could prove an unwelcome Yokufuji Temple by his brother's deceit was more than
surprise to either or both sides of the conflict. Minamotono-Yoshirsune could cake. The ghost of
Day-co-day life has changed little for the mortal Yoshir.sune filled the grounds of Yokufuji Temple with
inhabitants ofDhillika. The palaces and temples chat the unease by dint ofhis unquenchable anger. Seeking out others
invaders demolish are places the lower castes were not among the dead with cause to hate his brother, he gathered
permitted to go. The caste system m force in the Rajput co his side dead samurai of several families: Fujikawa, Taira,
kingdoms had become incredibly onhodox, placing more Yasuda, Minamoto. All of chem had died as a result of
rescrictions on fraternization and occupation than ever Yoritomo's jealousy and arrogance. Severalofchem had been
before. The lower castes farm, craft, herd - and avoid granted the femme co rerum co cheir own bodies.
annies of any stripe. To gacher in this way was dangerous; the growing,
palpable aura ofdarkness surrounding Yokufuj iTempie was
frightening the local populace, who stepped up their sacri-
fices in an attempt to appease the angered spirits. More
Nestled becween Kamakura Bay and the Kiridoshi significancly, any large population of Japanese wraiths
cliffs, the ciry of Kamakura seems peaceful and serene. might draw the attention ofche Jade Emperor of the Yellow
Underneath its placid surface, however, the city is a balled Springs.Lastly, chis "rebellion of che dead" could not fail to
fist waiting to strike-and that fist belongs to Minamoto catch the eye of the shogun's own unliving champions.
no-Yoritomo. The gaki of Japan's Bishamon uji split violently over
Yoricomo, Japan's first shogun, settled into Kamakura the Gempei War and its outcome. Like the mortal samu
followmg the Gempei War. The city was wonderfully rai, the Bishamon fought on both sides of the conflict,
siLuated in terms of defense: Enemies approaching by sea facing each other on darkened, blood-slicked fields after
...
'~'~~~------ iiiiiiiil~------ ------~ ...
the human armies were forced to rest by the coming of 'tJ~H OF'THI- Sttoc;Ul4.
night. To the Bishamon amurai aligned with the Taira, For Yoritomo, the pressure is growing. The great
Minamoto-no-Yoricomo 1s a bad seed that would have supernatural presence around him ts becoming impos-
been culled m childhood buc for the mercy of the Tatr:l ible to ignore. Voices come to him in the nighr, mur-
family; for such a man co commit these dishonorable acts muring curSe:; and imprecanom. Shadows blacker chan
while bearing the title ofshogun is a disgrace to the entire black dance across his paper walls m the absence of light.
Japanese empire. To those aligned with the Minamot:o, Barely glimpsed figures disappear just as he turns his
Yoritomo is the inheritor of a legacy of military conquest head. Paranoid by nature, Yoritomo's response has been
who has proved his strength and capability by attaining to become increasingly irrational, lashing out at minis-
his current position. The shogun must be ruthless tn cers and samurai for imagined slights. He has concmued
defense of the empire. to build temples in the Kamakura area in an actempt co
All un knowing, Yoritomo has gathered a uper- remedy his situation, co no avail. He has employed
natural guard around Kamakura - a full wu of his Buddhist and Shinto monks and priests to exorcise che
Bishamon supporters. U nder the leadership of Miura demons that haunt him, threatening execution for those
Yasutam i, the Blackest N ight wu has sworn itself co whofail-andallhavefailed. ThevillagersofKamakura
protect the shogun from his otherworldly enemies. remain quiet and respectful, giving the shogun's resi-
They keep to the shadows out of necessity, but they dence a wide berth to avoid drawing his ire.
have carefully p laced retainers in Yoritomo's entou- Atthemoment,theB1shamonwudoesnotknowwho
rage. And at night, of course, the shogun is never out of Yoritomo's assailants are, only that the shogun must be
their sight. The guardian wu has skirmished w1ch protected from a malevolent supernatural force for c:he
Yoshitsune's rebellious followers, but both sides cho e good of the empire. Should Miura Yasucami learn c:hat c:he
the option of surviving to fight another night, having insurgents are lt:J by Yo:;h1tsune, the man who led the
gained valuable information about the enemy. Minamoto to victory, and che circumstances of
Yoriromo's vampire defenders cannot entirely protect Yoshitsune's death. the balance of power in Kamakura
him from his ghostly harassers-even with G ho tsight, may shift decisively.
the skilled wraiths are difficult to aetect.
167
~--------------......"""""'"""""'--......~~~~~
~.., {YIESnR.._ Ctt;~ creatures of the West and the most likely poincofexit for
the intrepid Running Monkeys of the East. The city is
The city of Kashi, known as Kashgar in the Turkic firmly under the control of the White Tiger Court- a
languages of the area, is balanced precariously among certain departure from mortal politics-yet che ancestor
cultures. Founded in ancient times by a Persian prince, of the city, Jiang Shahua, is willing to tum a blind eye to
the Huns overran the ancient city in their second discreet dealings with barbarian shen in public areas such
century BCE surge westward. In the first century BCE, as the bazaar. This latitude is granted in service to her
the region came under Western Han control, but by the greater charge: the protection of the Middle Kingdom
second century CE, it had fallen to the Uzbeks. The from unwanted supernatural incursions and the protec-
Tang dynasty regained control in the seventh century; tion o(the secrets of the Wan Kuei from those who might
but when the dynasty dissolved, a succession of Ti- seek to exploit them.
betan, Uighur and Arab armies overran Kashi. The city The ancescor deploys rhe city's three wu to this end:
is now technically under the control of the Xixia the Ministry ofGilt Otplomacy, whose charge is to search
kingdom, but that state has little actual control over ouc those foreign shen who would enter; che Fragrant
Kashi - the nomadic t ribes of northern China are Conflagration, who interview those who seek to leave;
spoiling for war in the absence of a strong imperial and the Talops of Jasper and Gold, whose grim cask is to
presence, and Turkic princes beyond the mountains eradicate the unwanted who refuse to tum back.
are a lso amassing armies of their own. To any aspiring The role of the Ministry of Gilt Diplomacy is often
tribe, Kashi is a prize, a dusty gem by the side of the road easy-Western vampires have a charming tendency to
chat will grant its finder incredible wealth, introduce themselves to nearly any being of power they
Every successive group to control the city has left its migbtencountermascrangecity. Themembersofthi:.wu
mark on the culture and the people who live there. Along traveled extensively themselves during their Running
Kashi's winding, hilly srreets, it is possible to find Bud- Monkey periods; its members are traditionally chosen
dhist pagodas of wood and tile next to buildings con- from those who gained permission to leave the Middle
structed from brick and sandstone. The majority ofdwell- Kingdom and survived long enough to return. The ances-
ings are made of adobe covering crudely baked mud tor watches them carefully, as it is possible that, in the
blocks; these buildings are often two or three stories tall, course of their travels, they have become infected by
built our over the narrow streets until the upper stories inappropriate ideas or, worse, incurred inappropriatedebcs.
nearly touch in the middle. Jiang mighc wish ro employ more circumspect, onhodox
The city itself has seen better days. In the halcyon WanKuei in this role, yetthosewithoutacertainappetite
days of the Tang dynasty, Kashi was arguably the most for risk rarely have the skills required.
important scop on the Silk Road. Merchants bearing the Staid and reserved Wan Kuei instead find a place tn
treasures of China had already traveled hundreds of the Fragrant Conflagration wu. Their job is to thoroughly
dusty. dangerous miles around the Tak.la Makan Deserr. examine the vampires who wish to leave: checking over
Those coming from the West-laden with glass, ivory, the tokens and letters from the ancestor of the applicant's
gems and exotic herbs - had come Just as far, and court, interviewing the would-be world traveler in person
pushed through icy mountain passes. Both Eastern and and reviewing the extensive essays often required from
Western merchants were ready co ell their goods, make the applicant to reach an accurate appraisal of hi or her
cheir trades and return home. The vast bazaar of Kashi, Hun and P'o. The members of this wu do a very good job
a great plain filled as far as the eye could see with donkey of portraying the JOUmey west as dangerous-some have,
carts, camels and tents swathed with bright fabrics, was m fact, made the trip themselves and barely survived.
the place where they would meet. The bazaar still exists, Their horror stories have convinced not a few young Wan
but the crowds are not so large and boisterous- che Silk Kuei to abandon their rash plans.
Road is a dangerous place to travel iQ these days, and The third wu, the Talons of Jasper and Gold, are
those who brave it are fewer and