L5R, The Ivory Kingdoms Dheramada School

   Here we have another one of the Ivory Kingdoms schools for Legend of the Five Rings – in this case a school that serves equally well for scholars and assassins.

   Some eighteen hundred years ago in the Ivory Kingdoms, the Deva Harijitender concluded that one of the great advantages of the Rakasha lay in their ability to split off shards of their inner darkness, cast shadows of themselves, and thus to effectively be in more than one place at a time. The Meditations of Unity made such a division impossible for an Asura or Deva, and no normal human being possessed enough essential self to splinter off anything but ineffectual images without terrible consequences. They would rapidly find themselves whittled away into nothing but a devouring void that could never again be filled, a thing of unending hunger. A Rakasha had no true self save for the hunger of the grave that lay at the core of their being, there was nothing in them to expend – only darkness which could be renewed by slow-but-steady influx of raw evil. To match the power of a Rakasha, to stare too deeply and too long into the abyss, was to become a monster yourself.

   Nonetheless, there ought to be a solution somewhere.

   Over several lifetimes of dabbling, and some mutation of his original idea, Harijitender found such a solution. You couldn’t subdivide yourself without embracing nothingness, but you could – given some time and meditation – imprint directives and information on raw power, turning it into an extension of yourself. You could then infuse that power into an object, giving it a temporary form, infuse it into animals, making them powerful extensions of your will for as long as they lived, or even – with great effort – give it an independent form, creating a powerful servant or Tulpa to carry out your will. It wasn’t quite being in more than one place at a time, but it wasn’t far from it.

   Harijitender passed on his techniques. His students found them to be a powerful tool, and passed them on in turn.

   Later – and less ethical – users found that it was easier to infuse a human with power than it was to create a Tulpa. Such bondservants were especially useful when you did not wish to risk yourself on a task. Eventually the dark Dheramada Masters became known as spies and assassins. It was so EASY to bind some disposable pet, servant-child, or anonymous guard to your will, to infuse them with power, and then to send them on your mission – and if they died in the attempt, or were caught and slain afterwards, the cost to you was small.

  • Basic Modifiers: Void +1, Glory 1, Status 2, Wealth 2, and Honor 3 (1 if a dark master).
  • School Skills: Courtier, Ceremony, Divination, Defense, Etiquette, Instruction, Meditation, Storytelling, Slight of Hand, Theology, any one lore skill, and any other skill.

   School Techniques:

  • First Technique: The Binding of the Winds. Where a student of the Dheramada School has touched, there their influence lingers. The user may call on up to (Rank+2) skill-based services per session, each such service rated at a level of up to (Skill Used/2, rounded up). He or she may employ Courtier to obtain political favors and appointments, Ceremony to contact spirits and obtain immediate responses to Peasant Magic, Etiquette to obtain equipment and supplies, Meditation to temporarily awaken items as Nemuranai, and favors based on any one additional skill of his or her choice (15). On a smaller scale, he or she may cause a thought to occur to anyone within line of sight up to (Air Ring) times per day. The target need not act upon the thought, but it will cross their mind – indistinguishable from a stray thought of their own (3).
  • Second Technique: The Infusion of the Waters. The Dheramada Student may now infuse a model or image with power, calling it temporarily into being as a physical object and binding it to his or her will. This may be done up to (Void Ring) times daily without cost, although subsequent uses will cost a void point (this equates to Conjures III from the Guuzou Kami spell list) (9). Their growing awareness of how their own, innate, power interacts with other creatures also grants them the ability to perceive auras (equivalent to the second level Aura Vision psychic power, 6) and lets them easily influence animals (equivalent to the first level Tame Beast psychic power as needed, 3).
  • Third Technique: The Hypnosis of the Flame. A Journeyman of the Dheramada School learns to infuse even words with a portion of his or her power, granting them an unnatural influence over those who hear. They gain (school rank) free raises with the Courtier, Etiquette, and Storytelling skills (10), can now infuse greater models and images with power (increase the limit on the Conjures effect to level six or the user’s void ring rank, whichever is less) (9), and may add twice their Awareness to all school skill rolls as long as they are not wearing armor (5).
  • Fourth Technique: The Answer of the Earth. The Dheramada Journeyman may now access the true strength of the school, infusing his or her power and will into an animal – gaining an animal companion which may be run as a secondary character with an experience total equal to the users (15). If it is slain, or the user chooses to replace it, there is no experience point cost (Immunity to the XP cost of replacing lost companions, 5). The user may opt to either obtain a companion creature normally or to use one created via Conjures – in which case the companion-level power infusion will sustain the Conjure indefinitely provided that it is a relatively ordinary creature to begin with.
  • Fifth Technique: The Mirror of the Void. The Dheramada Master may now either create a Tulpa – a creature sculpted from pure will and the energies of the void – over a month or more, or enhance another animal companion, or even infuse a sentient being with his or her power and take it as a companion. Whichever option is selected, the companion gains an XP total equal to the user’s and is run as a secondary character. If it is slain, or the user chooses to replace it, it takes several days, but there is no experience point cost, since the immunity from level four continues to apply (20).

   Like all the Ivory Kingdom schools, the Dheramada School is quite formidable – although less in a personal way and more in a send-in-the-troops way. A master who has chosen to have a skilled warrior-companion can readily conjure him a squad of troops to command and send them to deal with many annoyances. It’s also useful in social situations, although not to the extent that a dedicated courtier school will be – but it has almost no direct combat applications and offers no access to wide-area magical powers. The user may be able to conjure up a weapon, but he or she may well have no real idea of how to use it.