The Mandate of Heaven

   Here we have another player-requested project from the Legend of the Five Rings campaign – a unique school designed to help the user rule wisely, justly, and well. Thanks to his extensive efforts at arranging assistance in its development, the school has already reached its final form. Little remains except to polish the techniques a bit. and put them into practice.

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The Mandate of Heaven

   This “School of Proper Rulership” is a special project of Ninsei’s – albeit drawing heavily on the assistance of the Naga, on the Church of Merenea’s studies on the Proper Uses of Power, and on the assistance of a variety of ancestor and celestial spirits – along with some advice from his relatives and the Senior Crane Ambassador. He has not yet traveled very far along the way – but the path is laid out before him.

The Mandate of Heaven:

   Overlord Courtier School

Trait Bonus: +1 Awareness

School Skills: Courtier 2, Theology 2, Calligraphy, Ceremony, Etiquette, Investigation, Battle, and Defense.

School Techniques:

  • FIrst Technique / The Disciplines of Leadership: Favors (Courtier, Lore/Area Ruled [the spirits of the land will notify you of major events, dimensional incursions, and disruptions within the area you rule as one favor per day], and Theology [you may gain immediate responses to appropriate rituals and subtly influence the climate and large-scale events within the area]. Unfortunately, you will tend to attract hangers-on and will find that your ever-increasing staff makes it almost impossible to go anywhere without being immediately recognized (10 -5 = 5), you gain SR free Raises with the Courtier, Etiquette, and Investigation skills (10), and may double the Style bonuses you gain from the Courtier Skill (5).
  • Second Technique / The Superior Man: Immunity/The Corruption of Power (5), Psychic Power / Truthsayer (Those who attempt to lie to you and fail lose two void points, which you gain. If they can’t afford to pay the possible penalty, they can’t lie, 9), and Precognitive Dreams (6).

  • Third Technique / Favored of the Celestial Realms: Anyone who attacks you will lose honor points equal to your rank in addition to any other losses attacking you would normally cause (5), Finding/Personnel (You may intuitively locate the best available person for any given task, 9), and Danger Sense (+3 bonus to Initiative, may make a check to sense upcoming attacks, 6).

  • Fourth Technique / Blessed of the Kami: You gain a daily pool of free raises equal to your Theology skill which you may use on any roll. Unfortunately, you will also be recognized as a great man – and thus will become a priority target for assassination during any dispute (15, -5 for targeting, -5 for half effect). Fortunately, if you have a bodyguard nearby, you may spend a void point to negate all damage from any single attack (15, -5 for conditional).

  • Fifth Technique / Tongue of the Heavens: If you spend ten minutes speaking to a group who formally acknowledge your leadership, they may each recall your advice up to (Int) times later – gaining a pool of free raises equal to your rank, and two bonus void points, to use on rolls related to the topic of your speech. These must be used within 24 hours once activated, but the bonus void is not subject to the usual spending or pool limits. (15 for any topic, -5 since it can only be used on those who formally recognize your leadership, +10 for the recipients being able to call on this bonus up to (Int) times later on = 20 points).

   The Mandate of Heaven is versatile – but it primarily relies on having a major official position. Non-rulers may be able to find the best people around for various tasks, but they may not be able to recruit them. There’s no point in knowing what’s going on in the lands you rule if you don’t rule any – and you can’t give bonuses to your followers if no one acknowledges your rule.

   On the other hand, if you do rule an area, this school certainly ought to help you do it well.

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8 Responses

  1. “Immunity/The Corruption of Power (5)”

    Just hold on a minute there, sparky.

    I’ll go along with the rest of the technique, but this one has some issues. I think I would have to protest it. No technique should somehow make you immune from being a slimy, slippery bastard, or to the wiles of the wealthy of powerful.

    Maybe a limited Gift (see advantages) along these lines, but Immunity? No way.

  2. Hmm… It doesn’t do a thing to make you immune to manipulation. It also doesn’t make you immune to being a slimy slippery bastard. Neither of those have anything to do with the Corruption of Power. It does make you immune to the gradual intellectual corrosion of taking your power for granted, for giving less and less thought to the consequences for others of your orders, and for gradually coming to see what you desire as a being necessarily and objectively good.
    If it helps, consider it a set of mental disciplines that maintains your mental state – with regard to the exercise of political power – as it was when you first acquired said power. Somehow, that seems a lot more plausible than the techniques that let you ignore the need to breathe, become immune to poison, or fight without penalty despite having multiple broken limbs.
    As for using a Gift… Gifts (1) protect you against other people’s actions, which has nothing to do with the Corruption of Power, and (2) grant target number modifiers, which would only matter if there was some sort of roll involved. That doesn’t work since, in terms of game mechanics, this particular ability has no effect.

  3. What the immunity is about is preventing the slow corruption of a person that takes place when they achieve great power. Frequently they begin to see their power as justification for whatever decisions they make, regardless of the consequences. They also tend to begin to take their position for granted and cease to remember or consider their more humble beginnings.

    This is about preventing the changes to a person that come about once they have great power. It is not about making them immune to being a jerk. Sad to say most people who are jerks started out that way.

  4. I don’t ultimately believe there are any such changes. Just the person’s true desires and nature coming to the fore.

  5. “Just the person’s true desires and nature coming to the fore.” Which is – by definition – a change in their mental state, and consequentially in the way in which they act, which has been brought on by a change in their social environment. Those desires, and that nature, were subject to mental restraints derived from observed social consequences before. Now they’re not.

    It’s difficult to argue that environment doesn’t progressively change the functioning of the mind. For one of the crudest of examples, if I put someone in a chamber and begin quickly increasing the temperature, they will become hot, then begin increasingly devoting their attention to attempts to escape, then they will almost certainly begin to scream and plead, then they will lose consciousness, and more or less shortly thereafter they’ll undergo one of the biggest mental and physical changes of all – they’ll die. All rather directly traceable to a change in their environment.
    To argue that changes in circumstances don’t produce mental changes is to argue that memory (a function of the mind) does not exist, that people do not and cannot learn from experience, and that new habits cannot be formed or old ones broken. All of those are mental changes resulting from interaction with the environment.

    Regardless, this doesn’t support the original objection in any case. Why would a technique that represses undesirable manifestations of your “true desires and nature” be any more bizarre than one which protects you from insanity, telepathy, or fire?

  6. It’s not about being “bizarre” and you still do not understand my objection. How can your own self-practiced technique make you do (or not) what you don’t want to?

    Either you stop practicing that particular part of the technique, in which case it offers no protection, or you keep it up, in which case… well, anyone willing to continually train and excercise his morality and good judgement doesn’t need the technique.

  7. For some real-world examples, the same way you can become an addict to various drugs, become depressed, develop a liking for coffee when you initially thought it was noxious, or overcome your craving for chocolate. The environment, and intentionally-selected activities, can produce a wide variety of biochemical and neurological feedback loops and modifications in the brain – altering behavior, responses to various stimuli, and thought patterns. Despite notions that people are at fault for failing to overcome various things “because its all in your head!”, there are plenty of people out there with brain traumas who desperately want to be able to think clearly, speak clearly, be able to read again, stand without falling or overcome many other problems, and work extremely hard to do so – and can’t. Regardless of whether or not your soul / mind has free will, it’s limited by the hardware and learned “software” that it has to work through – which has its own limitations, reflexes, demands, and cravings.

    Personally, I don’t like my diet, and I really want to give it up and eat a lot of things that I deeply crave – but I’m sticking with it. In fact, I find that I no longer crave quite a lot of the many foods that I used to really love and find occasional samples of others that I used to love too greasy to eat. My personal diet technique has observably successfully altered my desires and responses to my environment.

    Your objection seems to come in four basic parts – (1) that self-applied disciplines cannot alter what “you” (your “self” as expressed through your brain) “want”. This is demonstratably in error, as noted in the previous paragraph. (2) That the exercise of power in social situations does not actually alter motives, but only releases restraints on behavior. Of course, even if we grant that this is true (the notion that the functioning of the mind is independent of the brain, or that it cannot be altered by the environment has been disposed of above) this is still a mental change that the mind – as it existed before the change occurred – might well find undesirable and be willing to take steps to forestall (3) that “techniques” – whether of self-discipline, magic/psychic, or otherwise – cannot actually change or intentionally limit the user’s mind (apparently on the theory that other people can do so, but you can’t do it to yourself) – and (4) that “continually training and exercising morality and good judgement” is not a “technique” in game terms. (If it isn’t, what else would it be?).

    I note “seems to” because I suspect that the basic objection is that “I don’t like this” and the various objections we’ve been disposing of are rationalizations for that underlying objection. I’d invite you to (1) present your analysis of exactly what this technique does (the material from prior answers is a good starting point), and (2) why it is impossible for that effect to be accomplished through ongoing self-discipline, magic, and/or the stabilization of some part of the functions and structure of the central nervous system.

  8. A good fictional novel that is more or less a case study on this topic is George Orwell’s Animal Farm. It is that kind of moral decay that started off with good intentions that this school aims to prevent.

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