The Recondite Weave

   Next up for today, it’s a gaijin magical school / technique for Legend of the Five Rings. Ninsei’s been using it (progressively more effectively) for quite awhile now… Unfortunately, really effective use of the Recondite Weave pretty much demands that the game be using the new Advantages and Disadvantages so that you can figure out the effects of various manipulations.

   The Recondite Weave is gaijin void magic – more subtle, if less immediately potent, than that of Rokugan.  As such, if characters want to acquire this school/magic system, it will count as one of the two possible systems they can master.

   The Weave focuses on simply manipulating a few threads in the great tapestry of the cosmos – adding or removing small elements and destinies, weakening or enhancing some attribute, or subtly warping probabilities.

   In game terms, each level of Weaving costs 12 points and grants access to one Theme and four Threads. Alternatively, the user may renounce the Theme normally gained with a new level of Weaving in favor of two additional Threads. As with conventional spellcasting, a character cannot have more than (Rank) levels of Weaving.

   Themes include Attributes (traits, rings and enhancements, minimum SR 2), Blessings (spells, spellcasting and innate supernatural powers, minimum SR 3), Destinies (gifts and void traits), Majesty (leadership and social traits, minimum SR 4), Expertise (kata, maneuvers, and languages, minimum SR 1), Learnings (skills, styles, paths, schools and techniques, minimum SR 2), Relationships (enemies and allies, minimum SR 2), Resources (wealth, lands, position abilities and chattels, minimum SR 3), Talents (talents and bonus dice, minimum SR 1), and Talismans (magical gear and other special equipment, minimum SR 1).

   Each Thread may be tied into any effect within one of the user’s available Themes, enhancing or reducing a relevant ability by 1 XP per thread. Additional costs for lack or training or for buying advantages after character creation do not apply.

   Sadly, as more and more threads are linked to a target, it becomes more and more difficult to attach additional threads – drastically limiting the effects which can be placed on any one target. Secondarily, while it is easier to attach threads to a willing target (especially yourself), it is difficult to affect targets which are already linked to too many other things. A lone, near-forgotten, wanderer is easy to affect. A celebrity is harder, a ruler difficult, and a god is almost impossible.

   The basic TN to affect a target is 10 x (the total number of threads involved, including any already tied to the target). Willing targets subtract their Void from the total number of threads involved. When you’re working on yourself, you may also subtract your Willpower from the total number of threads involved, although the TN will never drop below 10 in either case. Unwilling targets – anyone who is expressly resisting or whom the user is attempting to affect negatively – may resist, adding either their Status or Glory x3 to the basic TN. Magic Resistance applies as well. The check is made using (Void + Weave Rank), keeping (Void). Unfortunately, a failed weave will backlash against its creator as the threads recoil, causing 1d10 points of damage per 5 points (or part thereof) by which the roll is failed and blocking any further attempts at Weaving for the next day (Alternatively, the Game Master may have it become go drastically wrong – and become self-sustaining). Weavers in search of Free Raises may use the Channeler rules (Q.V. Spell Manipulation).

   Weaves normally last until their creator dies or releases his or her grasp upon the Threads which make them up (usually because he or she wants to use them for something else), serve as links back to their creator for other Weavers and can be traced with other forms of divination if, and only if, the caster has appropriate spells and knows what to look for, and can either be created as rituals (requiring either one hour per thread involved or the expenditure of a void point and ten minutes per thread involved) with (Name) range or via direct manipulation (requiring either ten minutes per thread involved or the expenditure of a void point and a complex action) within line of sight.

   Characters with long-term weaves attached to them may choose to make them permanent, paying 1 XP per thread involved over the course of an equal number of weeks – and allowing the caster to recover his or her Threads at the same rate. Threads thus rendered permanent no longer count towards the total number of threads tied to a target.

   Skilled Weavers (SR 4+) can reduce the number of threads they need to create an unresisted positive effect by tying in supporting threads from among the cloud of unrealized possibilities which drifts around every individual. Unfortunately, each such possibility brings its own baggage with it. A childhood injury that could have healed badly might have led to a life of politics instead of war, but using it to support a Learning weave granting points in the Courtier skill would bring with the weave an echo of the injury that might have been – a disadvantage selected by the game master worth (-1) points per thread left out, up to a maximum of 50% of the normally required number.

   If a weaver bestows the knowledge of a technique, spell, or similar ability on someone they will not be able to explain it to others, make scrolls of it, or otherwise transfer their intuitive understanding. If the target wants to do that, they’ll have to spend the research time or experience points (or some combination thereof) that would normally be required to develop it to reduce their intuition to something teachable. They do not have to pay extra for not having a teacher or make research checks: if they want to spend the time and/or points success is guaranteed.

   The effects of Weaves are generally fairly subtle (especially so when they’re enacted as rituals) and the details of manipulations which involve secondary targets (such as providing a fortuitous ally) are always up to the game master. While you can specify some of the details, you can’t control everything. If you select a specific individual as your granted ally, be prepared to have the game master supply the motive. If you want a “well-disposed crab samurai”, be prepared to have the game master pick the individual. A victim of a reduce trait weave may simply wake up feeling a bit ill, someone may abruptly decide to repay an old favor, an important individual may take a sudden liking or disliking to you, and so on.

   Weaves cannot normally be dispelled directly. You must either find the creator and deal with him or her or find another mystic who can target the creator over the threads which link him to his or her target.

   Some applications of the Recondite Weave are innocuous enough. Creating temporary magical devices, granting bonus dice, enhancing attributes, and similar effects are little more than ordinary magic – if harder to spot or counter. Draining other people’s physical or mental traits is hardly unknown – although most such spells have considerably shorter durations and ranges.

   Things start to break down when it comes down to social manipulations. In the crowded populations of the empire, where table manners – much less allies or a bit of status – may easily mean the difference between life and death, the thought that some mystic could simply cause a quarrel, get someone an appointment, or force someone to ally with them by magic – instead of by manipulation, influence, oratory, blackmail, bribery, actually being a worthwhile ally, or by other underhanded tricks – is grossly offensive to everyone who’s built their personal power on such methods.

   If Weaving is ever introduced to Rokugan, many will seek to exploit its subtle power mercilessly, some will refuse to believe in it’s existence, and still others will see it (or pretend to see it) as being utterly dishonorable, and will attempt to ban it.

Weave-Related Techniques include:

   Knotting. This technique both allows weaves to continue beyond their creators death without further cost and allows the creator to spend his or her own experience to render weaves on other people permanent, whether they’re positive or negative in nature.

   Synergism allows a weaver to more readily enhance Traits or Techniques, effectively doubling the number of “virtual” XP that each thread provides for one (10) or both (15) of these purposes.

   As a note, even with Synergism, it’s probably more effective to drain a point or two each off several of an opponents traits, thus effectively reducing them by one each, than it is to try and enhance yourself and your allies this way.

   Unraveling allows a weavemaster to attempt to pick apart another weaver’s creations. Unfortunately, this is dangerous. The would-be unraveller must roll as if he or she was creating the effect to be unraveled first, suffering the usual backlash damage if unsuccessful. If the casting check succeeds, the two weavers involved must make opposed rolls: if the unraveller wins, the weave is dispelled and the original creator will suffer one die of damage per 5 points worth of difference or part thereof in the two rolls. If the creator wins, the weave remains in place and the would-be unraveler suffers damage in the same fashion.

Shigure in Hell

   When Shigure got himself thrust through the Festering Pit of Fu Leng, and wound up stranded in Jigoku, it was generally thought that that was the end of him. Instead, however, Shigure is attempting to overthrow Fu Leng, in favor of restoring the classical order of Hell. Hence the Who’s Who in Jigoku listing – at least in the Tales of the Sunrise campaign – that was posted some time ago. Today it’s Shigure’s reaction to that post – and his evaluation of his chances of actually causing some real trouble. Anyone who has other suggestions for him to try is welcome to comment…

   Looking at the various power groups, we seem to have a unique problem. That is, the people/beings/whatevers with all the power don’t seem that interested in actually pursuing it or doing anything with it, or even maintaining it.

   Which is basically to say that Primal Demons are not particularly involved one way or another. If they dislike that Jigoku’s direction has changed, they don’t seem to show it or do anything about it, probably because they aren’t affected: the universe will go down in its own due time. For them, Fu Leng’s invasion is hardly more than an annoyance.

   However, their backing is likely necessary in order to pull the energies of Jigoku back. The Primal Demons are privy to the oldest secrets; they may well have had a hand in shaping the realm and its rules. As such, we probably need their passive assistance. The active help of even one would probably guarantee victory, as only Fu Leng himself and his most powerful servants could actually challenge them. We have at least a decent argument for their help. The more power Fu Leng has, the less likely they are to get what they want, while he clamps down on the possibility of them messing with his world.

   The Sanjidokei seem unhelpful. They are a lot like obnoxious Fortunes. Hell, I think they are obnoxious Fortunes. And given their obsessive interest in screwing things up, they seem unlikely to help unless it suits their personal interests. I won’t say no, certainly, but I can’t spend too much time on them. My primary tactic should be to convince them through building up other support, and that their importance will be restored vis-B-vis Fu Leng’s supporters.

   Now, the Shikome are a group with immense opportunity here. The Yanhulangan seem certain to join us, and most of the Shikome should follow. Only the animalistic Kirni and the cruel Goumonko would stay neutral. Well, the Gozu Mezu might not see it as their responsibility. In any case, this caste of demons will probably form the core of the rebellion. I need them badly, since they can bind spirits and powers which are leaking into Ningen-do.

   The Kaiju are almost totally unknown. Although they are supposed to be bindable to human spirits, I’m not aware this has ever happened. In fact, I’m not aware of them ever doing anything, or what their associations mean. I can’t count on them one way or another. This requires more investigation. What kind of linking is this? What do they prefer? is their association with a particular realm important? How the heck are they part of the realm of Jigoku anyway?

   The Greater Oni are troublesome. Most of them are intimately tied to Fu Leng by interests, and rely on his support. This makes it hard for me to sway them. On the other hand, most of them remain untrustworthy scum and might switch sides. Mugonsendo the Treacherous Lord, for example, would stab even Fu Leng in the back given a good chance. He almost has to. Many of the Greater Oni may not do well if Fu Leng wins his war, because he will no longer need them. I have no problem with them plying their trades of sin and vice. Fu Leng will, if he takes over.

   Some of them, such as Kyuso or The Maw, may have “ideological” reasons to join. Kyuso can hardly pretend I don’t have irrational beliefs (Fu Leng personally sent me to Hell, and I’m still trying to screw with him.) and The Maw can’t argue when I say I’m accepting evil counsel (What else do I have now?). Unfortunately, while I’m in little position to bargain, these folks are horribly untrustworthy.

Individual rundown of Greater Oni –

  • Mugonsendo the Treacherous Lord: Totally untrustworthy, will play both sides against the middle. This Oni probably expects there to be enough backstabbing under Fu Leng that it’s a wash either way.
  • Baksura the Devourer: Another wash. plenty of that in Rokugan already, but likely to be even worse under Fu Leng.
  • Akanhenran, Patron of Rage: Actually, a good bet. Fu Leng’s empire is likely to clamp down on these things hardshly, since energies not spent toward his glory are wasted in his eyes.
  • Shukisatsu the Seducer: Another wash.
  • Jatsura: Likely to go with Fu Leng.
  • Rachisura: Could go either way.
  • Kudan the Bull: This guy has promise. We could definitely use such assistance and he could stand to lose heavily if Fu Leng takes over. The Dark God might not appreciate such trouble-making, and it might not be nearly as fun. It’s hard to reveal terrible truths when all truths suck.
  • Namuci, Mistress of Night and Deception: Would be definitely untrustworthy even by Oni standards, but is again someone who could lose out in Fu Leng’s possible totalitarian world.
  • Kiyo, the Dragon Mistress of Excessive Vengeance and Massacres: Again, could go either way. Maybe would be even happier under Fu Leng.
  • Kyoguan: Now this guy would just plain like me. He’d admire my crazy-stupid level of ambitious achievements based half on skill and half on blind bluffing. He also probably has no interest in Fu leng’s world, where ambition is basically a thing of the past.
  • Kyoso: I’m highly doubt the Oni of refusing to change decisions will switch her allegiance easily.
  • Yakamo: Reclaiming the past, eh? I think we could use him, and he us…
  • The First Oni: Yeah, let’s just move on…
  • Yuushin the Patroness of Grief: Well, she has no reason to love or support F Leng, but then, she has no reason to help us either. Kind of the point with her.
  • Akuma: Ummm…. this guy is totally on Fu Leng’s side. Not even a contest.
  • Kishimo-Jin: I think we have a love-hate relationship. I believe in secrecy, or at least open non-secrets which actually hide things, I have a poor education, but disagree on the use and abuse of underlings, heh heh heh.
  • The Maw: I could see him jumping ship for personal reasons, but probably would prefer the mass of even more brutal violence Fu Leng would instigate.
  • Rouhiyobunko: Pretty much a wash.
  • Tsuburu: On the balance, Fu Leng’s victory favors him and probably he’s too mercenary to move with us.
  • Mounena: This girl might go with us. of course, it’s only because she likes screwing with people.
  • Shikibu: Almost totally opposite me in purpose and use, but possibly willing work with us.
  • Miru-Jimani: I think we can do business.

Bargaining and Promises –

   Shigure can’t simply sweep aside the opposition (When could he ever?), so he has to bargain within the bounds of what he can, and chooses to, promise. This has certain limits. He plans to institute some form of representative thugocracy. The strongest rules in Hell, but every class of demon will have some say in its major affairs.

  • Shigure is totally planning to suck the Taint back to Jigoku. Sending off all that yummy evil power! What is Fu Leng thinking?
  • Shigure will not go out and kill somebody’s personal foes. In Jigoku, this is incredibly pointless; they will just come back. And now they’d be ticked at Shigure. Personal squabbles are a waste of time. That said, if one of them was hindering Shigure’s plans anyway
  • Shigure is willing to erect some temples and so forth. Ambition, vengeance, murder, bloodlust, greed, and a certain amount of cruelty are pretty normal within Rokugan (and everywhere else). Shigure doesn’t like them as traits, necessarily, but he also doesn’t deny that they are aspects of the world and won’t try to stop people. He’s not exactly an innocent little dove himself.
  • Now if some wanted to enjoy themselves by swatting Yodotai, fine by me. I don’t’ want to utterly guarantee the Yodotai are coming, but I do have it on the most reliable sources available: the future. Of course, the demons may have some information on this themselves.
  • Materially speaking, with temples usually go sacrifices and offerings. Depends on what they want, of course.
  • Artifacts of Jigoku certainly belong (usually, anyway) in Jigoku. I’d be willing to distribute certain things amongst those who support me if I can get my hands on them.
  • I’m pretty sure that favors are a bad idea. I wouldn’t be totally opposed if I must. it’s just that blind anything-goes favors are extremely dangerous.