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.

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