The Nightmares of the Clans

   Since the characters are now operating at the levels where such opponents may routinely come into play, here is some information on their current major opponents – the Nightmares of the Clans.

   Fu Leng has little access to the realms of dream. Nevertheless, his power is great, he has observed the dream-magic of the Nezumi for centuries, and he is not without occult skills. Fusing the fears of the clans with spirits of dark dreams and the power of Jigoku, he has called up the Nightmares of the Clans. Some are old indeed: the Nightmare of the Crab is said to have walked the Shadowlands before the first Day of Thunder – while Nightmare of the Mantis is virtually newborn.

   All share one terrible power: They may steal the bodies and souls of those they slay who are vulnerable to them, incorporating them into their own being and drawing on their power. Without a human body they are little more than wisps of corrupted dream. Fortunately, all of them are limited by their Taint Rank in the number of souls they may absorb – and there is always some way to release souls from their grasp.

   In general, you can safely assume that a Nightmare has

  • Rings of 5+
  • a Taint Rank of 6-9
  • a Fear Score of 6+
  • Carapace 6 (not versus Crystal, Jade, or Dream Weapons)
  • +1 Bonus Attack
  • a full School of it’s own and – probably – a couple of personal techniques.
  • at least some degree of Magic Resistance.

and may:

  • broadcast an emotion (the Vortex of Dream). This may be focused on an opponent, overwhelming them with the emotion in question if they fail an opposed trait check, or broadcast to affect all those nearby – although in this case the difficulty to resist is only 20 or so.
  • distribute wounds between themselves and the spirits within them as they will. If a spirit is “slain” in this fashion, it passes on into the appropriate afterlife.
  • Divert mental attacks, probes, and individually-targeted spells to one of the spirits within them as they will.
  • draw on the Void Points of the spirits within themselves.
  • draw on some quality or ability of the spirits within themselves
  • sense and travel through all nearby passages to and from Jigoku and the realms of Dream.
  • be resummoned by Fu Leng, or by a complex ritual, within a few months of their “deaths”. Otherwise they have to wait for several years.

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   The Nightmare of the Crab can steal the souls of those who have committed dishonorable acts of cowardice, and can draw on speed of the souls within it, using both their movement and actions. Fortunately, it seems to be limited to one attack action against any single target in a round – and souls can be released if they are stirred to resist by mighty acts of courage in the vicinity. Secondarily, it can radiate Terror (raising it’s Fear rating to 10 and allowing it’s basic rating to affect even those normally immune. If it uses this as an intentional attack, it can wield fear as a weapon; if those affected fail their checks three times in a row, they will die of fear). As a minor power, it can summon lesser creatures the shadowlands – ogres, small groups of goblins, and so on.

   It normally wears heavy armor and wields a terrible Nemuranai, the Hammer of the Underworld – a Nemuranai Mace said to come from beyond Rokugan – which causes terrible bleeding wounds, smashes barriers, and is apparently indestructible. Personally, it seems to draw on the realm of dreams for battle-skills, acting as if it’s weapons existed only when it so chooses.

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   The Nightmare of the Crane can steal the souls of those who have committed dishonorable acts out of selfish desire, and can draw on both the skills and appearances of those souls it has imprisoned. Such souls can be released by acts of great selflessness in the vicinity, inspiring them to renounce the desires that bind them. It can radiate an aura of lust, forcing its victims to succumb to their passions and to do whatever it takes to fulfill them. As a minor power, it can sprout claws and wings and fly with great speed and maneuverability, striking from above and blending into the darkness that none may trace its comings and goings.

   The Nightmare rarely wears more than light armor, although it usually carries an intricately carved staff which can apparently summon and command great cats, possibly in mockery of the Lion Clan. It possesses considerably skill as a Shugenja and Maho-wielder.

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   The Nightmare of the Dragon can steal the souls of those who have refused aid to the helpless and starving, or have added to their burdens, and may draw on the supernatural powers of those who have done so – thus corrupt and selfish monks and priests are its favored prey. Such souls can be released by great acts of charity nearby, but such opportunities are rare in battle. It wields the power of regret, allowing it to overcome victims with remorse and preventing them from calling on their inner resources for a considerable period. As a minor power it can shatter blades and armor.

   The Nightmare normally wears a Kimono which protects its blackened, scarified, and tattoo-covered flesh as if it was the heaviest of armor, and carries a dai-sho of minor potency. Physical combat is, however, secondary to its considerable skills at supernaturally-augmented unarmed combat and ability to both sense its opponents intentions and duplicate their abilities.

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   The Nightmare of the Lion is a primal, brutal, horror that can take the souls of those who fall to dishonorable rage and lust for destruction, although such souls can be freed by great acts of forgiveness in the vicinity or by the forgiveness of those they wronged by such behavior. It can use its imprisoned souls to possess those in the vicinity, granting them great strength, endurance, weapons skills, and lust for destruction, but rarely allows any innocents in the vicinity to survive long enough to put this power to use. It wields the power of hatred, and can force those in the vicinity to turn on each other, striking back mercilessly at anyone who has ever offended them – although, as a forced action, this does not ready those souls for it’s harvesting. As a minor power it can sprout (in fact, it rarely withdraws) teeth and claws more lethal than almost any mere weapon and heal its own wounds when it inflicts damage with them.

   The Nightmare normally wears battered and bloodstained armor, but uses no other weapons or tools. It is usually accompanied – or, in its destructive madness, directed by, a group of lesser horrors. Its school seems to focus exclusively on tearing its opponents into pieces.

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   The Nightmare of the Mantis can take the souls of those who have dishonored themselves through greed and larceny, although such souls can be stolen away by those with appropriate skills or spells. It can project the strength of its imprisoned souls into masses of inanimate matter, creating lesser duplicates of itself, albeit of whatever form suits its needs at the moment. Regardless of where they are sent, such duplicates remain linked to the Nightmare, providing it with a method of negotiating from safety. Sadly, such duplicates have only the vitality of the spirit imbued in them. It wields the emotion of avarice, and can force those affected to pursue whatever he or she perceives as desirable, considering nothing but how he or she can come to possess it. Unlike most such effects, this obsession becomes stronger with time; unless it is rejected swiftly, it will become a permanent part of the victims personality. As a minor power it can spend a 1/2/3 Void Points to produce items and supplies worth up to 20/100/500 Koku or any single suit of armor or weapon of Fine/Excellent/Legendary quality.

   The Nightmare usually wears the finest of weapons, clothing, and armor, whether in person or as a duplicate. Unlike most of the Nightmares, the Nightmare of the Mantis appears to focus on social techniques.

.

   The Nightmare of the Phoenix can take the souls of blasphemers and those who misuse the powers granted by others – including by the Kami – and channel their deaths against it’s foes. It may thus radiate an aura of death, destroy lives, structures and magic with little more than its gaze, and blunt or negate many forces. More subtly, it can perceive possible deaths, and make those more likely, learn the secrets of the dead, and raise up spirits from Jigoku, granting them the names of its imprisoned souls. Fortunately, those souls can be stripped away whenever someone nearby acts selflessly (albeit not by dying) to beat back death and save the life of another. It’s aura of despair is a constant drag on the activities of those about it, and – as a minor power – it possesses formidable telekinetic powers.

   The Nightmare of the Phoenix is a powerful spellcaster and master of Maho. Oddly enough, most of its techniques are defensive – focused on simply buying enough time for its aura of inescapable doom to destroy every living creature in the vicinity. It usually dresses in a blood-drenched robe, infused by maho with the blood of dozens of sacrifices. It rarely uses a personal weapon other than its deadly touch, preferring instead to rely on its guardian oni.

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   The Nightmare of the Scorpion can take the souls of those who have betrayed their comrades, lords, or blood relatives, and can use their attacks in addition to its own – allowing it to annihilate the strongest of opponents in a flurry of blows from all directions. Such souls can be freed by great acts of loyalty, such as sacrificing yourself for another – an effect which has led to countless defeats for the Nightmare, as loyal guards, parents, and even peasants have thrown themselves between its blades and those they sought to protect. It originally radiated an aura of betrayal, but this proved more damaging to the hordes of the shadowlands than to it’s foes, and so it has been stripped of that power – an act it has taken as betrayal by Fu Leng himself. As a minor power it can secrete poisons, infusing them into anything it touches. Unfortunately for it, even the denizens of the Shadowlands do not trust the Nightmare of the Scorpion, leaving it utterly bereft of allies and comrades-in-arms.

   The Nightmare usually wields several weapons at once, often in many arms, and wears heavy armor. Sadly, his gear is rarely exceptional in any way: he keeps losing it and having to scrounge for replacements.

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   The Nightmare of the Unicorn can take the souls of those who opt to ignore major crimes and the misdeeds of others. While the nightmare gains no known benefit from the souls it imprisons beyond those benefits common to all Nightmares, there is equally no known way of depriving it of those souls save through the infliction of massive damage. It radiates confusion and madness; while the effects are brief, few Samurai are so mighty as to not lose much of the time that they might be fighting the Nightmare to shaking off the effects of its aura. As a minor power, it can raise considerable numbers of skeletal horses and warriors to serve it, allowing it to tirelessly pursue its victims.

   The Nightmare of the Unicorn wears armor of stark bone and wields a blade of corruption, which poisons and taints all it touches. It adorns itself with the skulls of its enemies, and often seems to invoke destructive magic through them. It is a skillful archer and swordsman, and the wounds inflicted by its arrows always fester and usually kill.

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