In Nomine: Bodhisattva

   Here we have a writeup of some eastern figures for the In Nomine role-playing game. Unfortunately, when both “the good guys” and “the bad guys” seem to be united as “The Crazy Guys”, it sometimes makes it hard to find something you want to play. Ergo:

 

Bodhisattva, The Ascended Ones

   But if God was the first, and only, god – the Alpha and the Omega – whose servants constantly intervene and who’s agents appeared to and taught the first men, the one to whom squads of angels stand witness where did the other faiths come from? Couldn’t any fool discover that they are false? If the great orders of angels and their fallen foes have existed since near the beginning of time, why are the first records of their existence to be found in books only a few thousand years old? Where was god for the first fourteen billion years of existence? If the more powerful angels embody words of the cosmic symphony, what does David have to say about the stones of Mars, Pluto, and the asteroid belt? Isn’t there an entire cosmos to run?

   Why command that “You shall have no other gods before me” if there are no other gods?

   God – backed by the power of two billion believers – has reordered much of the cosmos to suit himself (Page 52).

   There are still others however. Many have faded into mere Ethereals, remembered in tales and myth and by small cults. Others, however, can still boast hundreds of millions of followers. They should not be ignored.

   The Buddhists do not see the godhead as separate from the symphony, or as something separate from themselves. The godhead is the symphony as a whole, and their goal is unity with it. The Bodhisattva are humans who have transcended, and returned to help others do the same. Despite attempts to make “Heaven” synonymous with “Nirvana”, Heaven is a place, but Nirvana is a state of mind.

Game Mechanic Modifiers (A.K.A; The Eightfold Path):

  1. For Bodhisattva exceptionally good and enlightening results occur on a roll of “444” and exceptionally bad and confusing results occur on a “333”.
  2. The actions of Bodhisattva do not create dissonance in the symphony, They do create counter- and sub-themes which are almost as detectable (Roll at -4), but “sound” different. They each have their own identifiable “theme” however, making them easier to identify as individuals.
  3. Bodhisattva gain their daily essence point at Noon, like any human, rather then at Dawn or Sunset. They heal the same way.
  4. Unlike Angels and Demons, they cannot use their resonances through technological mediums.
  5. They have Paths rather then Superiors. These are difficult to negotiate with, but easier to mix.
  6. Bodhisattva can’t take “modern” roles and never have any status unless they gain it by hard work. They’re generally limited to Eastern Priest / Monk / Mendicant, Herbalist / Healer, and Martial Artist. On the other hand they gain a +2 bonus on the level of their human vessels.
  7. Buddhist Relics and Reliquaries may be taken as Sutras or Koans – mystical invocations. These can’t generally be taken away or broken, although this makes them more expensive (A version of “can be worn or carried in a completely hidden way, +3 points”).
  8. When slain a Bodhisattva fade into Nirvana – the universe at large – and will eventually return from it, just like a spirit of the Marches. Being one with the cosmos, they do not suffer Trauma.

 

The Bodhisattva Template

   “Only the sword which is no-sword is sharp enough to cut nothing.”

   “Let me help you.”

   Simplicity. Directness. Serenity. Action without self is the goal of the Bodhisattva, flowing with the music of the symphony and becoming one with it, rather then acting from expectations or to mask their natures and motives from others. They are teachers, but the lessons they teach are never easy to understand.

 

Satori (Resonance)

   Bodhisattva are attuned to the symphony as a whole and see time and place for the illusions they are. They may interact with regions of the symphony which are nowhere near them and, seeing no real distinction between selves, may share these strange insights with up to (Ethereal Forces) others within a radius of up to (2 * Celestial Forces) meters if they so desire.

 

Karma (Dissonance)

   Since their purpose is to teach, not taking any reasonable opportunity to attempt to reveal the wonders of the cosmos, or failing to make an attempt to keep humans alive to learn of them, results in Dissonance.

 

Bodhisattva Check Digit Results/Game Mechanics

   1+) You may shunt away excess energies (e.g. Radiation, Heat, and Electricity) and so avoid injury. This may be used even if the character cannot currently use his resonance otherwise.

   2+) You may catch a glimpse of the glories of the cosmos as a whole or reveal them to another. This is very strange and, twice per day per person, this allows them to regain a point of essence.

   3+) You may grant any target with total forces equal to or less then your Celestial forces one extra force or restore one lost force to anyone. Unfortunately, this will not work on any one target more then once per month and costs a point of essence when successfully invoked.

   4+) You may catch a glimpse of apparently-random events (as selected by the game master) that are distant in time and space. Such visions often reveal things that you ought to be doing.

   5+) You see a quick and easy route to reach an apparently-random but interesting location. The trip never requires more then a few hours, even if it’s halfway across the cosmos.

   6+) You may participate in an apparently-random scene somewhere else in time and/or space. This often involves an interaction with some other entity, which is how Bodhisattvas interact with their “superiors” (e.g; anyone from whom they can obtain an enlightening lesson).

 

Manner and Appearance

   Bodhisattva tend to be more then a little “childish” – always finding the world fresh, wonderful, and full of unexpected things. Their celestial forms run towards butterflies, beams of light, mythical forms, jade maidens, and elderly sages. Their physical forms are usually much the same.

 

The Paths Of The Bodhisattva

   There are four major paths for the Bodhisattva – the path of the Enlightened One, the Seeker of the Way of the Sword, the Shaman, and the Taoist Sorcerer. It is, in fact, quite possible for them to take multiple paths – but they must accept the Dissonance condition for each path they choose to take more then 5 CP worth of abilities from.

   Enlightened Ones are classical Buddhist monks, lamas, philosophers, and sages. They tend to be calm, ignorant of society, and quite unworldly as they attempt to see past the illusions of reality.

   Seekers practice the martial arts as a form of moving meditation, attempting to become one with the world around them, flowing with it without thought or sense of self.

   Shamans seek for the essence of the divine which lies hidden within all things, communing with the hidden spirits of the world – and seeing themselves in that mirror.

   Taoists seek to understand the great themes of the symphony, knowing that their own essence is a manifestation of those themes.

   Bodhisattva tend to get along better with Angels then Demons, although they may oppose either if they are interfering with their mission to bring enlightenment to humanity (and normally see nothing wrong with maintaining good relations with any powerful spirit). From their point of view, any human – or even those somewhat-deluded Angels and Demons – can eventually become one with the symphony, as they are. They may achieve distinction by becoming an example to others and/or through strange experiences in distant places in time and space. Oddly enough, the more they follow the apparently-random promptings of the symphony, the more likely such opportunities are to arise.

 

Dissonance

   Enlightened Ones must not indulge in lengthy schemes, lay complex plans, or worry much about the future. They must act with simple spontaneity.

   Seekers must never start a fight or use force beyond what is justified in defending themselves and others.

   Shamans avoid making any personal use of “high” technology – such as steam engines or current firearms. They will not use technological weapons, although they have conceded riding in elevators and in vehicles as long as someone else is driving.

   Taoists must never provide a straight or simple answer to any question and should never let anyone talk them out of whatever they have decided is the right thing to do.

 

Attunements

Enlightened One

  • Aura of Serenity: The character inspires trust and confidence in those he meets. This can be treated as a “charisma” bonus equal to the characters total celestial forces.
  • Currents of The Void: The character may add his total number of ethereal forces to either strength-based OR agility-based skill checks OR he may add his total number of celestial forces to either intelligence-based OR perception-based skill checks.
  • Master of Entropy: Once per day the character may touch a creature or item and adjust its age by up to (Precision) years for living things or up to (Precision x 10) years for inanimate objects.
  • Piercing the Veil: The character may switch vessels or forms with a will check without spending essence. Roll (Will) to shift, (Will-2) to shift without taking a round.
  • Pocket of the Void: The character may store up to 250 pounds of material in the distant reaches of time and space, placing it there or retrieving it at will. Time does not pass for items so stored.
  • The Excellent Advisor: The character intuitively knows just what any troubled, upset, or confused mortal needs to hear. Unfortunately, this may not be what they want to hear or have any immediate effect, but it can negate fear, soothe children, and get people moving towards their destiny again.

Seeker of the Way of the Sword

  • Earth Moving: You gain two points of innate armor protection against corporeal, ethereal, or celestial damage. This attunement may be taken repeatedly, but no single aspect may gain more then 6 points of armor in this fashion.
  • Fire Leaping: You may spend two points of essence to take an extra action once per turn.
  • The Strength Within: You may add one-half of your celestial forces (round down) to the effective level of your vessels.
  • Voice of Command: In any emergency or combat situation you may simply issue orders. As long as such commands are reasonably sensible and the targets have no compelling reason to disobey, such orders will be followed without question. In less urgent situations you gain a +4 bonus on Fast Talk rolls.
  • Water Flowing: You intuitively sense the general outline of everything within 30 feet, and can thus operate in darkness, sense people behind cover, or defend yourself against invisible opponents without difficulty. As a side effect you gain a +2 bonus to your Dodge check digit.
  • Wind Blowing: You may move with great speed and agility. The character’s movement allowance increases by 2 x Agility when Corporeal, 2 x Perception when Celestial. This attunement may be taken repeatedly, but may not more then triple your movement speed.

Shaman

  • Casting the Bones: You may make a willpower check one per day to direct the effects of Satori (check digit 4+) towards a subject you have an interest in. If successful, this will provide a bit of insight (Ethereal Forces facts by default) into your desired topic.
  • Channeling: You may call on the power of any entity which owes you a favor by simply expending an action to invoke it. Favors can be purchased for one character point each (the character is presumed to have earned them between games) or acquired through roleplaying. Using this ability requires a resonance check. On a success, the user can draw upon the spirits powers for a number of rounds equal to the check digit plus one, although effects can continue past that period.
  • Distant Call: The character may hold a brief ceremony requiring 1d6 minutes to “place a call” to almost any entity. As a side benefit, the user will find that anyone is willing to talk, to give him or her a fair hearing, and that he or she always “has an appointment”.
  • Mind Like Moon: The character receives a +2 bonus to dodge rolls and dodge check digits.
  • Smith of Jade: The character may create Talismans. It normally requires one week per point of the cost to create such items.
  • VisionQuest: You may seek out the personification of any mundane problem or event in the marches and attempt to deal with it as an entity. For example, uncontrollable flooding or a hurricane would probably manifest as a belligerent elemental creature. Successfully dealing with the personification will solve the problem.

Taoist Sorcerer

  • Fires of Peruza: The character may channel celestial energies into his or her physical body. Any vessel the user employs gains (Celestial Forces) character points worth of improvements for free.
  • Forge of the Divine: The character may create Relics and Reliquaries. It normally requires one week per point of the cost to create such items.
  • Invocation: The character may call on the assistance of major supernatural beings. Unfortunately, they charge for their assistance: Invoking a being for some minor service (e.g. calling on a spirit of fire to light a campfire) costs three points of essence – one to call, one for payment, and one to channel the effect) and two rounds (one to call and one to channel). A major service (calling up a firestorm to destroy a building) costs 1-3 character points but takes effect in the next round.
  • Master of Artifice: The character may simply “pull out” (Ethereal Forces) minor gadgets each day. Such gadgets may not weigh more then 10 pounds or be more advanced then a flintlock pistol. Typical gadgets include smoke bombs, melee weapons, sleeping drugs, small explosives, swords and daggers, grappling hook, healing ointments, crossbows, etcetra.
  • Stance of Tao: The character may spend a point of essence to shift one of his or her forces to another category. The force reverts to its normal state in (ethereal forces) hours.
  • Tulpa Master: The character may create temporary servants by spending points of essence equal to their normal cost. Such servants always obey orders, and so need only be purchased at level one – but they only last for (ethereal forces) hours. Tulpa may be rendered permanent by paying character points for them, but become less reliable; their creator has a +2 rank bonus on their effective resource level but will no longer have complete control.

 

Masteries (Servitor Attunements)

Enlightened One:

  • Aspect of Song: You may select a specific song and employ it up to three times per day with no essence cost. The song operates as if you had expended essence equal to your normal maximum as a base, any additional essence you expend adds to this.
  • Walk in Harmony: Your actions will not disturb the symphony at all unless you spend essence in some way that a normal human could not.
  • Sphere of Serenity: No one will attack you unless you attack them first. Even area effect attacks will leave you untouched. Unfortunately, there are limits: people can still refuse to let you into secure areas, throw you out, or take away that item you were trying to stroll off with – and superiors will eventually lose patience and lock you up.

Seeker:

  • Clouds Above the Earth: The character may walk on air, moving about as if winged.
  • Expertise: The character gains a +2 power bonus on any attack he or she makes.
  • Merciful Strike: The character may expend 2 essence points and attune a weapon to cause corporeal or ethereal damage for the next three rounds. Regardless of the type of damage it causes, the weapon will not cause more harm to a target then they truly deserve.

Shaman:

  • Mindwalking: You may take celestial form and return from it without disturbing the symphony.
  • Gate of the Marches: You may move to and from the Marches by simply moving to and from celestial form.
  • Personification: You can talk to things and try to persuade them to help you within their natures (for example, doors open, close, lock, unlock, and occasionally fall down. They don’t fly around hitting people). For you everything is intelligent and potentially helpful. Unfortunately, it can be very hard to get the attention of really large things.

Taoist:

  • Aspect of Song: You may select a specific song and employ it up to three times per day with no essence cost. The song operates as if you had expended essence equal to your normal maximum as a base, any additional essence you expend adds to this.
  • Master of Alchemy: The character can create objects and materials by expending 1 point of essence per 200$ worth of material to be created.
  • The Wheel of Jade: The character may store twice as much essence as usual.

 

Distinctions

Enlightened One:

  • Querent of the Heart: You understand others motivations. You can tell what people want, how serious they are about something, and how much they’re willing to risk for it. You may also use Fast Talk (a.k.a: “counseling”) to instill new motivations, calm irrational or hysterical individuals, soothe emotional distress, and remove addictions.
  • Aspirant of Healing: You receive +4 effective levels in each aspect of the Healing Song.
  • Sage Transcendent: Given a week, you may expend 10 essence to remove a level of discord from yourself or from someone else.

Seeker:

  • Querent of the Skies: The character may spend a point of essence to call up a cloud to ride on. Such a cloud can transport up to six characters, travels at anything up to the speed of sound, and lasts for two hours.
  • Aspirant of Invulneribility: The character’s vessels become impervious to damage from any single element chosen from among Earth and Stone, Heat and Light, Water and Corrosives, Air and Electricity, or Metal and Plastic. For a point of essence, this can be shared with anyone the character is touching (and continues to touch) for 1d6 minutes.
  • Sage of Steel: The character becomes so skilled in defense that – while he or she opts to hold a position and defend only – he or she cannot be harmed or passed in any space less then thirty feet wide. In any other situation the character may roll their dodge twice, taking the better result.

Shaman:

  • Querent of the Winds: Anyone with this distinction can listen in on any conversation in which they’re mentioned by name, regardless of who’s speaking, where they are, or what precautions they may take.
  • Aspirant of the Overworld: This distinction grants the character a +2 bonus on any roll made while in Celestial form or in the Marches.
  • Sage of Resonance: The character gains any one Celestial or Demonic Resonance, but must accept the Dissonance rules of the source choir or band as well.

Taoist:

  • Querent of Essence: Given an hours study, the character can precisely evaluate the nature of any item, compound, plant, creature, or artifact.
  • Aspirant of Alchemy: The character may brew Elixirs. When empowered with 2 essence and applied these can enhance or damage vessels (+/-2 levels), provide a temporary corporeal or ethereal force, heal wounds (As per the Song of Healing/5), or dissolve solid matter (1d6 damage per round for up to 20 rounds). Effects other then dissolving matter last for 1d6+24 hours.
  • Sage of Distillation: The character has learned to channel the fundamental energies of the symphony through him- or herself. He or she gains an extra 2 character points per session and may allow up to four other characters to gain an extra character point each session. He or she may also purchase Bodhisattva attunements, masteries, and distinctions freely – or allow others to do so through him.

 

Basic Rites

  • Meditate for three hours (styles vary. Seekers practice kata, Shamans dance or beat on drums, and Taoists contemplate obscure formula).
  • Spend two hours teaching someone about the cosmos.
  • Succeed with a skill roll using a skill at 6+
  • Enlightened: Share enlightenment with a new and worthy/innocent person.
  • Seeker: Convince someone to rebel against authority.
  • Shaman: Spend four hours touring a place of unspoiled nature.
  • Taoist: Spend an hour distilling essences in an alchemical laboratory.

 

Chance of Invocation

   A normal angel or demon can call upon his superiors when things are really going down the drain, when they need advice, or for various other kinds of assistance. While Bodhisattva can call on their paths for a few specific effects, they really can’t get the kind of assistance that angels and demons can. On the other hand, paths aren’t as demanding and judgmental as superiors are. This is basically up to the GM. If superiors are generally well worth having in a game, Bodhisattva get +12 character points during character creation. If they’re fairly often helpful, Bodhisattva get +6 character points during character creation. If they’re a balanced deal, no points. If they’re a severe pain in a given game, game masters may quite reasonably charge a 6 character point fee for the privilege of being free of them.

   Enlightened (4) Still The Sands: The character steps outside of time for a subjective interval of up to one minute per celestial force the user possesses.

   Seeker (3) The Doom Slash: The character may open – or seal – a rift across space, time, and dimensions. It will remain open for up to one round per celestial force the user possesses. If used to seal a tether or similar anchorage the effect is permanent.

   Shaman (1) The Tolling: The character may attempt to invoke any major entity. It is best to have a very good reason, since the character generally won’t be in service to them.

   Taoist (2) Transformation: The character may attempt a transformation ritual to change almost any willing entity into any other entity.

   Invocation modifiers are up to the game master.

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