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Isawa Tokiuji was the Master of Void during the time

Kaidanshu and Koan
of the Gozoku. He is known for expanding the enrollment
of the Isawa School until it grew beyond the confines of
– The Intangible M g
Kyuden Isawa. Tokiuji created the title of Adept and had It is said that all things within the Celestial Wheel
each of the Elemental Masters bestow the rank on five possess a soul, even if that soul is not always “awake.” The
of their most promising students. Each Adept was in turn kami within any object exist unaware of the world around
gifted with a position as a sensei, allowing many more them until something draws them out: either a forceful act
students to train in the Isawa methods. of creation, or proximity to wondrous persons or events.
Less well known are the gifts of prayer beads that Tokiuji Created nemuranai are called shokunin, while those jolted
granted to each newfound Adept to help them begin their awake by events or personal influence are called mijuku.
school. Twenty of these mala (necklaces of beads) were Nemuranai are as varied as the circumstances of their
created, five for each of the four Elements. Each set was creation, but almost all of them are physical vessels –
carved from the wood of the Mori Isawa and etched with objects to be held and used. The exception to this pattern
symbols echoing the chosen Element, and each quickly are the Kaidanshu.
took on the physical properties of these Elements: mala of Kaidanshu and their cousins, the awakened koan,
Air were light and hollow, seeming to float, while mala of are an extremely rare form of nemuranai which lacks a
Fire were warm to the touch and seemed charred on their physical form. Kaidanshu are stories or tales, and koan
outer edges. are more focused philosophical conversations held with
The mala beads became known as Tokiuji’s Prayers, the self (or others). Each exists in a mundane state, but
for the Master had whispered sanctified words over each when awakened they – like physical nemuranai – become
bead before bestowing his gift. Each set grants the same mystical vessels to contain power, purpose, and will.
benefit, but attunes to the Element for which it was However, unlike other nemuranai, they exist solely in an
created. An individual who meditates at least once per intangible state – the words of an awakened koan echo

Chapter Five
day with a set of these beads attunes the mystic nature of in the mind, but on paper they are only so much writing.
Void to the Element of that mala, allowing him to treat the This enigma of ephemeral yet real power is what makes
Element as his Void for the purposes of making Raises and scholars associate Kaidanshu and awakened koan with the
determining how many Void Points he possesses. Void.



Chapter Five

CREATION AND USE In game terms, a Kaidanshu can be created with

Spellcraft, Meditation, or Storytelling, using the Void
Each Kaidanshu arises from either a powerful story Ring and a TN chosen by the GM based on the potential
(often one of the Kwaidan tales discussed earlier in this power of the item. For spontaneously created Kaidanshu,
chapter) or a profound koan. They are created in much the any listener who perceives the “heart” or “center” of a
same way as other nemuranai, and vary in power along the story or koan might suddenly “see the Void” and awaken
same parameters. Some are willed into being by a mystic the nemuranai. The GM may also consider exceptional
(monk or shugenja) exerting close ties to the Void, while circumstances such as fasting for days or residing in a
others awaken out of circumstance. For example, days of location with a deep connection to the Void.
meditation on the One Hand Koan by a mystic potent in
the Void could awaken a Kaidanshu quite suddenly.
Kaidanshu are more limited in their use than other
nemuranai; their abilities usually only benefit the It may seem odd to think of ephemeral stories which
individual who created them or whose understanding can be freely told to others as “magic items” in any normal
brought them into being. Additionally, Kaidanshu and sense. However, simple recitation of a story does not
awakened koan cannot simply be “used” in the same attune the listener to the Kaidanshu’s gift any more than
manner as physical nemuranai. Each requires a brief but picking up a rare and unique weapon instantly grants the
intense consideration of their meaning and “center” by the new owner its powers. Kaidanshu are not just mysteries,
user. In game terms, this is either a Free Action or a Simple but brief glimpses behind the Void into the inner workings
Action (as the GM judges appropriate) and a Meditation/ of the Celestial Wheel itself, and they must be mastered
Void roll, with a TN based on the power gained from the with care before they bestow their powers.
item. (TN 30 should probably be considered the base TN, All that being said, a Kaidanshu may be “gifted” in
since it is never easy to master the profound difficulty of a variety of ways. Perhaps a mystic creature, monk, or
true understanding.) A typical Kaidanshu may only be shugenja whispers an insightful truth and it dramatically
used once per day, since their profound sense of attunes the character’s perception to the “center” of a tale.
wonder is not easily invoked or replaced, and However, to pass on Kaidanshu is a gift, and requires a
their duration tends to be short. corresponding loss – one cannot both pass on the wisdom
and continue to benefit from its effects. In game terms, a
Meditation/Void Roll (TN 35 or higher) should be required
along with long hours of recitation, meditation, or
pondering of the tale. Perform: Storytelling may be used
in place of Meditation if the GM judges it suitable, but the
Ring is always Void.

Kaidanshu focus on the understanding of a tale as it
relates to a task at hand. Their power is drawn from the
enigmatic nature and mysterious qualities of the “fifth
Element,” and there is no end to the power they may
unleash. The examples listed below include both koan and
some of the stories described earlier in this chapter.

“Two hands clap and there is a sound. What is the
sound of one hand?” When it is first heard, a koan is a
static thing upon which to focus attention. After repetition, Each of the following awakened koan requires a Simple
however, one can realize it is a dynamic thing – the act Action and a Meditation/Void roll at TN 30 to activate it.
of seeking an answer allows one to see the self within the It then grants a +1k0 bonus to the next roll (within ten
koan. When one realizes this identity, the “two hands” minutes) on a specific Skill:
become one. The practitioner becomes the koan being Following the rules and protecting bureaucracy is
understood; that is the sound of one hand. An awakened binding oneself without rope. (Courtier or Lore: Law.)
form of this koan allows a character to reach beyond
Neglecting written records with unrestrained ideas is

Chapter Five
normal limitations, exceeding the normal maximum Raise
falling into a deep pit. (Any Lore Skill.)
limit by one (or more if the character makes Raises on the
Meditation/Void Roll to activate the koan). To be awake and not ignorant is to wear chains and
carry a boulder. (Any Intelligence-based Skill.)
DESTROYING ENLIGHTENMENT: A person who perceives thoughts as they immediately 143
The great monk Hua Toa said: “If you discover arise is tinkering with the Void. (Investigation.)


Enlightenment you must destroy it.” Realization of Without thinking of good or evil, show me your original
this koan makes one aware that the preconception of face before your mother and father were born. (Lore:
Enlightenment as a separate and external thing is false and Heraldry or Acting.)
must be removed. It allows the user to deny connection
to the Void in another who is unable to achieve this
understanding. The master of this koan n makes an Opposed
uccessful, the target
Void Roll against a chosen target – if successful,
cannot spend Void Points for a number ber of Rounds
equal to the koan user’s Void Rank.


This Kaidanshu grants the user
the ability to deny the passions
of the body which the tale
shows as so dangerous. The user
is immune to any attempts at
emotional manipulation (including
Intimidation, Temptation, Fear,
and similar things) for a number of
Rounds equal to his Void.

This Kaidanshu grants the userr
skills based upon experience, but nott
necessarily his own experience. The he
character gains insight into a chosen en
skill for a single roll, making that roll
with a number of Skill Ranks equal to his
Void. This replaces any ranks in the Skill
already possessed, and does not add onn or
grant Mastery benefits.