Before the Empire there were civilizations of Naga and then of Nezumi. There were cities of Ogres. There were humans who’s magical skills were advanced enough to bind Fu Leng – and there were many more near-forgotten schools and disciplines.
Among those were the Hadai, a school of city-guardians from before the Empire.
As an early school, the Hadai Mystic Knight had to be capable of handling many roles. They had to be able to calm situations without fighting while still knowing when they had to fight, to deal with supernatural monsters, to decipher the motives of those from other cultures, and to function as both warriors and emissaries. They needed a finely-developed sense practicality and excellent self-restraint.
They found those abilities in a holistic view of the world – seeing a sea of universal energy which permeated and guided all things, binding them together as an animating spirit and empowering those who learned to call upon it and sense it. (Those few who exist in the modern world tend to see the Tao as the modern embodiment of this notion). That boundless spirit embodied the proper order of the world, and guided them in their duties.
With the rise of the Jade Empire – and a much less mystical dedication to the Kami – the Hadai, and their dedication to the world as a while, slowly disappeared, their techniques and beliefs becoming anachronisms. Some of their teachings survived and may have influenced both Isawa and Shinsei. The city Isawa ruled, after all, predated Imperial times, and Shinsei’s Tao is in many respects a more refined and deeper version of the hazy Hadai beliefs.
The Hadai are powerful and versatile psychics, and – with the Kiho Mastery ability – count as a “Monk” school and can master various Kiho as if their relevant rings had a rank of (Actual Rank + School Rank). On the other hand, unlike a Monk, they have to buy them all separately – putting them in a bit of a crunch when it comes to experience points. In practice, they tend to rely primarily on their mystical abilities, since – while they are very versatile – they are no match for someone from a dedicated combat or social school. Of course, when they originated, they didn’t need to be.
Hadai Mystic Knight (Pre-Imperial “Bushi” School)
Benefit: +1 Void
School Skills: Athletics, Courtier, Defense, Etiquette, Investigation, Lore (Any), Hunting, Medicine, Meditation, Sword, and any one skill.
First Technique/Basic Channeling: This simple technique simply provides Kiho Mastery (10) and a bonus of +2x Void to all school skills (10).
Second Technique/Psychic Sensitive: The user is sensitive to magical, dimensional, and psychic disturbances, gaining intuitive feelings about them and having occasional clairsentient visions. Like any sense, the greater the disturbance, the further away it can be sensed. Weak disturbances – casting simple spells, strongly tainted creatures, and deaths – can be detected in the immediate vicinity. Powerful disturbances – the casting of mighty spells and enchanted areas, gates and divine presences, and major massacres – can be sensed at considerable range. Unfortunately, while time is not a barrier, the disturbance generated by a possible future event is proportional to its probability of occurrence. Thus, while a Sensitive may have occasional warnings, or even visions, of future events, they are unlikely to be specific – since they usually represent the sensing of many possible alternate versions of an event – and are relatively rare (Innate Self-Powered level three psychic ability, 9), Psychic Master: gain (Void) Free Raises when using psychic effects (10).
Third Technique/Psychic Mastery: The user may now employ all kinds of psychic abilities (use the psychic powers list for a guide). This is a Fifth Level Self- (or Void Point) Powered Psychic “Importune” effect with 2x Void uses daily. These “uses” can be “subdivided” – for example, if you can use fourth-level effects due to having Void 5+, then a second-level effect only counts as half a use. Such “favors” still, however, require that the user “pay” for them with a life full of meditations, weird austerities, and obscure missions (20). Unfortunately, producing such effects requires a successful “spellcasting check” using (Void + School Rank) (-5). Note that the user can only employ psychic effects of up to level (current Void Ring Rank – 1) or level four, whatever is lower. Secondarily, the user also gains Sight of the Heart (a level 2 self-powered innate spell of Improved Empathy. The user may make an opposed Awareness check against anyone he or she encounters, gaining a quick summary of their current desires and goals. Additional raises on this check will provide free raises on subsequent social interactions with the target within the next day, 6).
Fourth Technique/Foreseeing the Pattern: The user may now add twice his or her agility to his or her Initiative rolls (5), gains an additional (Void) self-powered daily uses of Psychic Mastery (5), and may opt to spend a Void point to reduce the damage from any single attack by ten plus the total of a (Void + School Rank) check by spending a Void Point.
Fifth Technique/One with the Spirit: The world-spirit now guides the user’s actions to such an extent that he or she gets an extra full action each round (15) and gains an additional (Void) self-powered daily uses of Psychic Mastery (5).
The Hadai Master:
Very powerful Hadai Knights sometimes went on to study the Hadai Master Advanced School. While such individuals did exert a certain amount of political influence, their primary dedication was to fully mastering the skills expected of a Hadai Knight – the better to train new students – and to teaching. The tradition of deceased Hadai Masters hanging around to tutor and aid their successors – who in turn taught a succession of students – guaranteed the continuity of the Hidai across many generations.
Rings and Traits: Void 5+, Willpower 5+, Perception 5+
Skills: Courtier 5+, Investigation 5+, Meditation 5+, Sword 5+
Special: Hadai Knight 3+
School Skills: As per existing Hadai Knight school skills.
First Technique/The Senior Master: May claim (Rank+2) Favors each session, each rated at up to (Skill being used/2, rounded up). A Hadai Master may use Courtier to obtain political favors and appointments, Investigation to gain information, and Etiquette to obtain equipment) (10) and may add +2x Willpower to all school skills (10).
Second Technique/True Foresight: May now also claim Favors based on Divination (attempting to manipulate fate) and a chosen Lore skill (obtaining services as relevant) (5). The master may also add +2x Perception to all school skills (10) and may spend a Void Point to make a Contrived Appearance (Immunity to actually having to have a justification for turning up at the scene of the action. Unless known to be occupied somewhere else, or stranded in another dimension, or some such, the user may spend a Void point to simply turn up somewhere – although this can only work if no one is quite sure where you are at the moment: if you can disappear into a maze of catacombs, a forest, or a city, you can simply turn up again somewhere else – such as appearing to rescue a student or face an arch-nemesis in a duel as he threatens some innocents) (Common Immunity, 10, costs a void point to use, -5, net 5). The game master is free to restrict this, although he or she should refund the user’s void point if he or she opts to exercise this privilege. This ability is not an an excuse to go completely insane, it’s just very cinematic and allows the absurd coincidences you find in many settings and plots.
Third Technique/The Grand Master: A Grand Master is a true expert in his or her school skills, and many now add +2x Intelligence to all his or her school skills (10). He or she is also now so well attuned to the spirit of the world, that it is almost impossible to effectively target him or her with magic, gaining +15 Magic Resistance (6)*. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, he or she gains a pair of allies – a Student or Aide (Influence 1 (fairly low rank), Devotion 2 (major, would take great personal risks for the master), Eccentricity 0 (a normal human), Inconvenience -2 (major: a student who can be threatened, kidnaped, etc, and whom you are obligated to protect) (1), as well as a Mentor Spirit (Influence 4/can grant 20 points worth of abilities chosen by the game master, Devotion 0 (minor – but then there are few risks to spirits), Eccentricity 0 (an “ancestor” spirit), and Inconvenience -1 (minor: the Mentor expects to be listened to respectfully – no matter how boring he or she becomes – and often has suggestions, advice, and missions which it thinks would be good for the user to carry out) (3).
*Alternatively, a Grand Master may opt to upgrade his or her Psychic Mastery abilities to cover 5’th level psychic effects instead. This also costs 6 points, so the two differing paths are otherwise identical.
According to legend, a Grand Master with Great Potential (Mediation) may learn an immunity to the usual upper limits on innate spells (5), upgrade to 7’th level psychic effects from an 8’th level innate importune effect (12), and learn the true secret of the nature of the world (3). No one is really sure what this would involve – although the Game Master may opt to have the user’s Mentor Spirit bestow these abilities or some variant thereof if he or she finds it amusing. Of course, if the setting allows characters of above Rank 8, then someone may well simply research a fourth and fifth technique for the Hadai Master school.
There were, of course, occasional madmen and renegades who turned the Hadai teachings to their own purposes – embodying the impulses of the darker side of humanity and carrying out missions of destruction to “pay” for the use of their abiliteis. A few even established small and secretive orders – although all such are believed to be long extinct, and their lore lost.
The Hadai have a great many interesting, if relatively low-powered abilities, but suffer the usual fate of generalists; their “magical” talents are no match for a Shugenja and their martial talents are no match for a dedicated warrior – until they get into the advanced school. There comes a point when quantity becomes a quality all it’s own, and adding 2x (Void + Willpower + Perception + Intelligence) to all school skills – including the base for Defense – has a certain charm to it when the character is at Rank 8+. A full Hadai Master is pretty formidable.