Blood, Sweat, and Tears: Jade and Magic

   Today it’s a bit from Ktsune Okari’s magical research notes. So far, at least in the Tales of the Sunrise campaign, this final version of his theories has turned out to be accurate.

   Jade is often said to live, to have a spirit in it, to be the blood of the great kami, or to have a perfect balance of energies. This, whichever it should be, allows it to protect against the Taint – the energies of Jigoku and it’s master Fu Leng which have unnaturally infused the living world. While any man, given luck and health, can resist the taint for a time, Jade offers surety – absorbing the corruption before it can affect the bearer.

   All attempts to create jade, or to purify and renew jade which has absorbed the taint, have failed. It is believed that true jade cannot be created or purified by magic. Every scholar, Monk, or Shugenja knows that.

   Yet Amaterasu – a being of magic, a Kami like those who create the magic of the Shugenja – cried tears of jade. The creation of the world was – by its very definition – an act of magic. Some powerful spells create true jade or invoke it’s energies, however temporarily. As shown by Tomb of Jade and Jade Strike, such spells only produce the energies of jade as they inflict damage. The creation of jade may be difficult, but it is the destiny and power of men to change the world – and men have proven powerful enough to slay gods in battle. What everyone knows is wrong.

   A lie believed across the land.

   The magic of blood is irretrievably corrupting. Everyone knows this. Such was, and is, demonstrated by the Bloodspeakers, by the Lying Darkness and its minions.

   Yet the Nezumi work magic with their blood without corruption. So do many barbarian sorcerers.

   The orders of the tattooed monks inscribe their flesh, birthing their power in blood – indeed, the first such tattoos were made with blood – including the Raven tattoo which provides them with immunity to taint. They may wound themselves to heal others with the Arrowroot tattoo. Monks may draw forth the inner purity of the tainted, releasing a portion of their life force – and burning away a portion of their taint. Given time and persistence this release of life force may even achieve purity. Living beings can, for a time, resist the taint. The stronger they are, the better they resist. Some of our greatest Shujenga heroes have fueled their final magics with their lives, with the power of “blood” – the same fuel which sometimes give force to the final pronouncements of the anguished, grief-stricken, or dying.

   Amaterasu cried tears of jade. Tears shed in anguish, loss, and pain.

   Blood and strength given up in worthy sacrifice need not corrupt a mage, any more than it must a bushi who offers up his or her blood and strength in service on the field of battle.

   Two great lies about magic. Believed throughout the empire. Dating back for centuries. Their “truth” demonstrated long ago by the Lying Darkness and its Bloodspeaker minions.

   It is not in the interests of Fu Leng, or of the Lying Darkness, for the mystics of Rokugan to investigate new sources of power. It is certainly not in their interests for men to wield the power of a pure life force – the power of jade.

   Their “truth” demonstrated by the Lying Darkness.

   Might these two lies be linked? Be merely two faces of one greater lie? The magic of blood rendered so taboo and abhorred that men have refused to consider it for a thousand years – and so have failed to harness the power of creation and the purity of jade. A thousand years of loss and spreading corruption.

   Creation is never free. New life – pure and innocent – is brought forth in blood and anguish and pain. Every mother knows this, who travels again and again to the gates of death to bring forth new life.

Jade Magic:

Draught of Jade (Earth, Mastery Level 1)

  • Duration: Your school rank in days
  • Area of Effect: Target Person/Creature
  • Range: Touch
  • This mystic infusion has effects similar to the Tea of Jade Petals – including the delay before the onset of the effect. It isn’t much use as a combat tactic. It can only be cast by an untainted caster with a void rank of at least 3.
  • Special Raises: You may affect one additional target per raise. You may also expend two raises to infuse the effects of the spell into food or drink, although it must be consumed within ten minutes to be effective.

Memoriam of Jade (Earth, Mastery Level 2)

  • Duration: Permanent (Special)
  • Area of Effect: Self
  • Range: Self
  • Memoriam of Jade may only be cast by an untainted caster who knows at least one Kiho and has a Void rank of at least 4. Once cast, it achieves a subtle balance of internal energies: when the caster dies his or her body will be permanently transmuted into true jade. Sadly, if the caster is tainted when he or she does die, an equivalent percentage (2% per shadowlands point) of the surface will slough away as crumbly black powder, making the resulting statue look blemished at best. A body that has been transmuted into jade cannot be transformed into an undead.
  • Special Raises: One raise will affect your clothing as well, although this does not increase the total amount of jade produced: it simply redistributes it a bit. Two raises will let you indulge your vanity, leaving your jade remains looking younger, handsomer, or whatever. Three raises will let your remains take any form you like, although the mass still remains unchanged.

Bones of Jade (Earth, Mastery Level 3)

  • Duration: 24 Hours
  • Area of Effect: Self
  • Range: Self
  • While this spell is active you cannot become tainted and the time you spend under its influence does not count towards increasing the target numbers for taint rolls. Unfortunately, every point of taint you would normally acquire becomes a wound instead. It can only be cast by an untainted caster who knows at least two Kiho and has a void rank of at least 4. Any taint you have already acquired is suppressed for the duration, but returns after the spell expires.
  • Special Raises: Three raises will let you take only one wound per two points of taint you would normally acquire.

Blood of Jade (Earth, Mastery Level 4)

  • Duration: One Hour
  • Area of Effect: Self
  • Range: Self
  • Like Memoriam of Jade, Blood of Jade transmutes portions of the caster’s body. Unlike Memoriam, the effect occurs as individual bits of tissue are removed from the body and die. Thus spilled blood will solidify into lumps of true jade, cut hair will become a (modest) quantity of true jade powder, and so on. Unfortunately, the process is draining both from the necessary injuries and loss of blood and from the life force which must be invested to complete the transmutation. Each finger of jade (or equivalent) produced requires the expenditure of two wounds – one for the injury and one for the transmutation – and the expenditure of a void point to complete the separation. It can only be cast by an untainted caster who knows at least three Kiho and has a void rank of at least 4.
  • Special Raises: One raise will let you control the rough form of the jade produced, two lets you sculpt it to the best of your abilities. Three raises will allow you to create two fingers of jade per void point expended, although you must still pay the full price in wounds. Eight will allow you to produce three fingers of jade per void point expended although, once again, the full price in wounds still applies.

   No matter how clever the imitation of the raw elements involved, attempting to produce True Jade without the infusion of life/spirit/void is doomed to failure.

Essence of Jade (Earth, Mastery Level 5)

  • Duration: Concentration
  • Area of Effect: Self
  • Range: Self
  • Essence of Jade allows the caster to draw – or, more accurately, coax – the taint from something he or she is touching (whether that is a person, a creature, a mass of corrupted jade, or the land itself), into him- or her-self. The caster can control how much taint is transferred in any given round, and from which target if he or she is touching multiple possible targets. Creatures contain taint as usual, a finger of corrupted jade normally contains 10 points of taint, and the tainted land in a radius of 100 will contain from 1-50 points, depending on how heavily tainted it is. Essence of Jade can only be cast by an untainted caster with at least three Kiho and has a void rank of at least 5.
  • Special Raises: Three raises will increase the radius of the land affected by 100 (without adding to the amount of taint you must absorb) as the earth seizes the opportunity to heal itself.

 

The Shaping Arts:

   Shugenja say “The power is not mine. It belongs to the Kami”. Yet has not the blood of the Kami mingled with men? Does not the Tao say that all things are ultimately one? Monks draw on the power of the void without the intervention of the kami or the gifts of the Phoenix. Nezumi, Gaijin, Soultwisters, and even the followers of the Shadow Dragon each channel power in their own way, rather than relying on the patronage of the Kami.

   If there is no power within men, how do Bloodspeakers draw it from those they wound to power their spells?

   Still, it is likely that the inherent power of men, unaugmented by an outside source, is too weak to produce major effects without seriously injuring them. That doesn’t make it useless – and the fact that it is their personal power makes it easy to turn to whatever goal they require. They just have to learn to focus it properly…

Mastry of the Trigrams (Universal, Mastery Level 1).

  • Duration: One day.
  • Area of Effect: Self
  • Range: Self
  • All the world is infused with magic: this spell simply allows the user to manipulate the ambient energies of the world via rolls of (appropriate ring + school rank) with a target number set by the GM (usually in the 5-15 range). For the duration, the user may cause minor magical effects within a 20 foot radius. These cannot cause direct harm to anything larger than a mouse, will not directly affect combat, and cannot do more than annoy or distract an unwilling target. Categories of effects which are possible include:
    • Conveniences: You can clean and polish things, freshen up, keep the rain off, warm or cool an area somewhat to make it more comfortable, make hard ground feel like a soft mattress, heat water for tea, light a campfire, dry clothing, clean up spills, puff up your blanket, get rid of annoying bugs, and improve the flavor of your food. If you’re actually working on something, the increased convenience will cut the time required down to a third of normal.
    • Special Effects: You can play music without an instrument or make other minor sounds, create obviously-insubstantial images, move small items you’ve recently touched (up to about the weight of a full teacup), make pretty lights, sparks, and puffs of smoke, make small items appear and disappear in your hands, collect spilled water, make your cloak flutter in the breeze whether there’s a breeze or not, and so on.
    • Transformations: You may color or grow hair, conjure (temporary) trinkets, briefly transform small, unresisting, objects, perform minor alterations on clothing, create scents, and create temporary tattoos.
    • Annoyances: you can create minor sensations (warmth, itches, pinpricks, tingles, etc), attempt to induce a yawn or sneeze, make a small item slippery or damp, cause a small know to come untied, or create similar distractions.

Miscellany:

Weave of the Earth (Earth, Mastery Level 1)

  • Duration: Instantaneous
  • Area of Effect: Self
  • Range: Self
  • Weave of the Earth allows the user to project his or her own life force into the raw materials of earth, air, and water, transforming them into organic substances – rice, wood, dyes, silk, and similar materials. Sadly, like the slower efforts of ordinary plants, beasts, and farmers, such creation drains the makers strength and vitality. While the user may create up to (Void Rank) bushels of material, this comes at the cost of taking two wounds per bushel of material produced.
  • Special Raises: One raise will permit simple processing – for example, producing flour instead of grain. Two will permit the creation of complex mixtures or simple multi-stage processing, such as creating the basic ingredients for a multi-dish meal or loaves of finished bread. Three will allow the user to apply his full skills.
  • As an example, anyone could produce a pile of raw silk. A single raise could produce a pile of silk thread. Two could produce neatly-wound skeins of silk thread in various colors. Three could produce a bolt of patterned silk cloth or even a finished kimono – although it’s quality would depend on the caster’s skills in weaving, tailoring, and embroidery, each checked separately. Perhaps sadly, even if this wasn’t technically a form of blood magic, most Samurai feel that actually producing food and useful goods is beneath their dignity.

Pearl of Wisdom (Earth, Mastery Level 1)

  • Duration: Concentration
  • Area of Effect: Self
  • Range: Self
  • Pearl of Wisdom allows the user to “write” with his or her mind alone, impressing the ritual structure of a spell onto a charm or talisman. In practice, this simply allows the creation of unconventional-looking scrolls – whether they’re actual pearls, inscribed wands, pieces of jewelry, dangling copper charms, or painted feathers. No matter how fine the workmanship you’re attempting, crafting the “scroll” will only require the base time.
  • Special Raises: Every two raises made in casting the spell provide one free raise on the calligraphy check to make the “scroll” up to a limit of (Intelligence) free raises.
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