The Madness Tattoos

   First up for today, it’s a bit of material for the Legend of the Five Rings game: some details on the Madness Magic Tattoos that have been bestowed on Kochige’s young son.

   When Kochige rejected the power of Madness Magic, the Elder Gods apparently passed their dubious attention and “favor” onto one of his children. Whether this is due to his status as a dimensional nexus and void mage, or simply because Madness Magic apparently can be passed on from parent to child and had to go somewhere, remains unknown.

    Unlike normal magical tattoos, which act as foci and channel for their bearer’s personal energies, Madness Tattoos are channels for the power of the terrible Elder Gods of Senpet. Perhaps fortunately, unlike the usual madness magic – which is capable of virtually anything given a sufficient number of sacrifices, a well-worded request, and a willingness to let the unrestrained power of the Elder Gods shatter the user’s mind – the tattoos distribute their power across the user’s lifespan, restricting them to relatively low-level effects. Still, there is enough power available for the user to share their powers with a small group of others (given some method of doing so) – as well as to renew the effects in moments if they are somehow dispelled. Secondarily, their restriction as to the effects that can be produced greatly reduces the damage to the user’s mind: the Madness Tattoos tend to cause odd quirks rather than raving madness.

   As for the Sacrifices – enough sacrifices seem to equal more tattoos. The boy started off with three, began acquiring the Eternal Armor after Kochige (recognizing the extra-dimensional nature of the Tattoos, if not their origin) tried applying a drop of his own mystically-charged blood to the boys skin, and is now about halfway along powering up his fifth tattoo – the Sundered Chain. The Eternal Armor was fully-empowered at about 500 deaths. Now, at about 1000 in total, the Sundered Chain is half-empowered. The nature of the progression remains unknown – although Kochige has been warned that if the boy acquires six fully-empowered tattoos that they will start to interact. What that means also remains unknown.

   In general, the Tattoos are permanent rewards for the sacrifice of hundreds of souls to the Elder Gods, providing powers that either function continuously or are usable at will. When the bearer kills someone in melee combat, either with his bare hands or with the use of the powers he or she has been granted, they become yet another sacrifice. Killing in melee with an ordinary weapon does not seem to count as a sacrifice. Killing at range via other methods does not count, but killing at range with the powers of the tattoos – such as the lightning strikes of the Chained Thunder Tattoo – counts sometimes, although the exact percentage has yet to be determined.

   In practical terms, the tattoos currently seem to provide either a single level four effect or a combination of lesser effects.

   Sword of the Elders: This highly-focused tattoo produces a flaming blade, wielded with either the user’s actual Swords skill or with an effective Swords Skill equal to the number of Madness Tattoos the user currently possesses. The blade inflicts 6K6 magical fire damage and negates all damage-reducing powers other than spending void, including carapace, techniques, shadow powers, invulnerability, and void. The tattoo-bearer will always consider the Sword of the Elders to be one of his most favored weapons, will tend to resort to the blade to settle major arguments, and will see nothing much wrong with killing people over fairly minor offenses. In Rokugan, this may not even be noticed.

   Eyes of the Void: This tattoo allows the user to see the energies of the void and through the void. The user may “see” magic, the auras of living creatures, invisible creatures, and enough of the traces of void in all things to provide limited night sight. As importantly, he or she can peer a bit ahead in time – granting enough Combat Precognition to provide a +2K2 bonus on his or her attacks, defense, and attempts to avoid other immediate menaces. The bearer tends to become inclined to strike first – preemptively eliminating menaces to his or her family, friends, and homeland, sometimes overlooking less violent possibilities.

   Chained Thunder: This tattoo offers its bearer limited control over the powers of the air. Its effects include Thunderstrike (4K4 to a 5′ radius at a range of up to 100′), Light Foot (+30 to the user’s movement, including leaps and moving over water), Catsfall (no damage from falls), Pocket Hurricane, Soothe Air (calms winds, etc), and Boost Reflexes (+2). Sadly, the bearer tends to become impatient, overdirect, and over-honest – having a difficult time concealing his or her intentions and purposes.

   Eternal Armor: This useful tattoo surrounds its user with a variety of mystical protections – Armor of the Air (acts as Heavy Battle Armor, but inflicts no die roll penalty), Damage Reduction (reducing the damage from each attack on the user by [2x Number of Madness Tattoos up to six], Strength of Steel (doubles armor bonuses, including those of Armor of the Air), Flesh of Stone (adds the number of Madness Tattoos the user possesses up to six to his or her Earth Ring for the purpose of calculating wounds), and Immunity to Fear. Unfortunately, the bearer tends to be overconfident – sure of his or her ability to withstand virtually any attack.

   The Broken Chain: This straightforward tattoo enhances the user’s raw physical abilities, granting +6 Strength and allowing him to regenerate (water) wounds every round (although this function is not yet active). Sadly, the user tends to forget how much his or her abilities exceed those of normal people.

   Since the boy is currently about eight and a half, he has a base of 102 XP – and has picked up another 12 by being taken along on adventures. Of those, 88 have gone to getting his Rings up to 2 each (making him a bit precocious – as if anyone would notice in this group), 12 have gone to his family trait bonus, 2 on speaking Rokugani, 3 on the Sweep Maneuver, and the remaining 9 on picking up some basic skills.

   As a note, the boy’s tattoos currently provide +6 Strength, +2 Reflexes, +10 wounds/level (total 14), DR 10, Carapace 8, and +20 Armor (total 40). He attacks with 8K2 and does 10K8 damage with his sword. He’s far from unstoppable, but he is pretty good against goblins and such – especially if they’re dumb enough to crowd him and let him use the sweep maneuver.


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