Sunday, October 2, 2016

A Look at the Arima Onmyoji Disciplines

With the magic rules revised, it's time to take a look at a set of Onmyoji Disciplines, just like I did with the Ii Bushi Disciplines. This one is a little different. In each group of Disciplines (Bushi, Onmyoji, and Teishin) there are 7 Basic Disciplines that are older, more prestigious. These 7 have 3 Branch Disciplines and 1 Advanced Discipline. The other 3, however, have only 2 Branch Disciplines.

That's the case with the Arima described below. The next post, by the way, should be a look at Teishin Disciplines using the Abe as an example ("Politics is war by other means," says their motto).

Arima Onmyoji Shuha

Orehime held her breathe as the troop of oni marched past. She crouched lowering behind a rotting log, thick with lichen; above the alpine line the mountains offered little precious cover. The otsuchi in her hand throbbed with anticipation, its haft still stained with the blood of its master, Orehime's sensei. She knew this wasn't the most honorable path; the hammer screamed in her head to be let loose, to claim vengeance.

If vengeance required her death, it cared not.

But honor also demanded she return the weapon to the monastery, and warn them of Bone Ravagers on the move, streaming from their caves towards the Arima villages below. Any prayer now would be heard, however, and an arrow through her throat would doom thousands, so the young onmyoji shrunk in terror. She willed the warhammer silent, shutting down its cries; shock at her determination registered on the edge of her consciousness. A grunt from behind broke her concentration. A crimson hulk, wandering off to relieve himself against her barrier, sniffed the air, roared, and leaned over.

Before it could blink the hammer trailed a soundless arc in the air and exploded skull, skin, and greasy hair in a shower of blood and a satisfying thud. Orehime's feet trampled mountain flowers before the body hit the ground and the troop turned.

She prayed to step between the stars and escape as she leapt off a cliff.

The Arima tradition was ancient and revered in Goshima, before the Exodus. When Mikaboshi ravaged the islands, the Arima temples became priority targets; he feared their legendary craftsmanship would churn out mighty weapons of sorcery against his forces. Their homes burned and fell into the sea, and only a shattered core of disciples survived the retreat across the sea. Throughout the Mikaboshi War they allied themselves with anyone fighting against the darkness, creating more tsukugami weapons and armor. When the war was done, they retreated to the quiet of Chugoku. Only the personal plea of Hikari-hime sent their reconstituted onmyoji to join the Onmyoryo. Today they are respected not only as experts in making tsukugami, but in guarding them as well. Every great daimyo has at least few on hand to safekeep their most magical heirlooms.

Arima onmyoji fervently believe in the sanctity of everyday objects and the forged works of humanity; kitchen and forge are as sacred as any temple or site of ancient nature. Every apprentice spends their youth training between temple and forge, learning the ways of the kami by prayer and by touch. At any temple or monastery where Arima onmyoji find their skills needed, an anvil dedicated to Kagutsuchi, patron Fortune of blacksmiths and legendary founder of the Arima uji, dominates his shrine.

And no such shrine is fully consecrated until the otsuchi of a master blesses its head.

These years of dedication make the Arima uniquely attuned to tsukugami and other awakened objects. They study their forging and history intensely, being among the few who can name powerful tsukugami created even before the Conquest. Any tsukugami in their presence gravitate to the onmyoji, and a keen-souled onmyoji-smith can recite their age and abilities with a glance. The Arima themselves are hailed as the greatest of tsukugami makers, and more than one has met their end courageously refusing to let their inventions and weapons become instruments of corruption and evil.
Unlike many onmyoji who have trouble relating to even those in their own samurai caste, those trained by the Arima find common ground in their dedication to craftsmanship. While holy studies still matter, as does politeness to the kami, the hard work of townsfolk earns their immense respect. An Arima onmyoji away from their forge is more likely to be dedicating homes and blessing workshops than reciting prayers in the shrine.

They also have a saying, born of their origins along the lonely mountain roads of Chugoku: “Look to the left side of your tools.” They acknowledge the world is a dangerous place, where the strong are forged through adversity, and that every tool of peace can be turned to battle. In defending their sacred sites, they turned to their hammers, and the otsuchi became a feared tool of war. Every Arima is issued one upon their gempukku.

The Arima daimyo is traditionally the Sei of the shuha, and directly administers all of its branches. Those trained by the Arima are a fraction of Hachigoku's onmyoji, and the Arima uji is small to begin with, so the dual responsibilities are a fairly light burden. Other than maintaining good relations with their neighbors, the Arima network of onmyoji across Hachigoku perform the bulk of their diplomacy.

Arima Onmyoji (Basic Discipline)
  • Element: Void
  • Skills: Engineering, Lore, Obujutsu, Oratory, Renkinjutsu, Shingaku
  • Honor: 2
  • Outfit: Wakizashi, otsuchi, kimono, traveling pack, ofuda satchel (with 3 Metal ofuda), 5 koku.

Rank 1: Way of the Forge
Arima onmyoji view the forge as the center of sacred creation. You are trained in gai-renkinjutsu, proficient in the use of Metal magic. Your Renkinjutsu gains access to the abilities and Aspects of the Craft Skill, choosing either the Armorsmith, Blacksmith, or Swordsmith Aspect first. You also gain a +Xk0 bonus on all social rolls involving those with Craft, where X is equal to your Discipline.

Rank 2: Fires from the Forge
The physical world is a manifestation of the spiritual. You are now proficient in the use of Fire magic. By spending an Honor you can instantly appraise any non-magical forged or constructed item with a glance, knowing its form, function, and any mechanical information relevant to its use. Also, any benefits gained from giving gifts you have crafted yourself are doubled, and any use of those gifts against you have Hard difficulty.

Rank 3: Biting Steel
An Arima onmyoji's power permeates the material world. You are now proficient in the use of Earth magic. By touching a non-magical item or weapon and spending an Honor you give any roll total involving the item by its user a bonus equal to your Renkinjutsu, until the end of the Scene. You can do the same for armor; its penalties decrease by 1 step for the wearer, and increase 1 step against foes. For example, the wearer of ashigaru armor so blessed has only Average difficulty to their Jutsugaku rolls, and their foe has a Hard difficulty to their attack rolls. If your Renkinjutsu is at least Rank 7, then the armor penalties change by 2 steps rather than 1. If either blessing happens during a Battle, it lasts until the end of the Battle.

Rank 4: Fierce Blood of the Earth
For an Arima onmyoji, time is fluid once you find it dependent on specific objects. You are now proficient in the use of Water magic. By spending an Honor you can see the past of any item you handle, through a number of owners up to your Water; an owner is defined as someone who has either legally owned the item or used it “significantly.” Infrequent use or transportation do not constitute significance, at the SD's discretion. If the item is magical, you can instead ask it questions up to your Water that it must truthfully answer. Also, your ability to use Biting Steel, imbuing an item with a bonus, now only requires you to clearly see the item, not touch it.

Rank 5: Forging the World
The highest honor for an Arima onmyoji is their symbol of mastery: an enormous hammer infused with the spiritual legacy of the most ancient smiths. You are now proficient in the use of Wood magic. You are granted a special otsuchi, personally crafted and attuned to you by a superior; it is considered a tsukugami. As long as you are wielding this weapon you may add your Void in unkept dice to all rolls using it. You may also use this otsuchi to strike a damaged or poor quality item, as long as it is whole or has all of its parts, spend an Honor, and restore the item to as-new quality or otherwise improve its quality to standard. If you spend an Honor and strike an item in good repair, it is instantly destroyed and shattered into pieces. If it is of excellent quality, you must make a Void roll with a TN equal to its Commerce TN. If it is magical in anyway, only magic can destroy it. If it is less powerful than a shari, you may opt to destroy both the tsukugami and yours.

Those who sacrifice their gifted otsuchi are never granted another by the Arima.

Nishio Akiko was the third daughter of the Nishio daimyo shortly before the Kaiju War. A flood of small clockwork imports from the Imperium fascinated Hachigoku, and collectors paid handsomely. Akiko loved the mechanical wonders as well, but her fascination went beyond mere admiration. She bought them by the cart, and spent day after day pulling their slumbering kami to wakefulness before disassembling them, and then months rebuilding each automation.

This obsession continued for decades, and while other samurai laughed, her father quietly encouraged her attempts to blend Arima techniques and Imperium technology. He enjoyed financing her trips across the Empire to study with masters of shikigami, the art of bringing paper-servants to life. But even he never expected much to come of it.

When the Kaiju War laid waste to the north, a mammoth two-headed oni broke through an Owari army and decimated the Oda capital. Flushed with victory and captives, the kaiju squatted on the city and sent its oni on foraging missions across the Ikeda frontier. The Ikeda and Oda daimyo took council together with their vassals. Their cavalry could make short work of the oni, but against the kaiju they could see no victory. Then a short note from the Nishio arrived, imploring the Ikeda daimyo to come to Akiko's workshop.

A month later Nioni the Cursed fell before the massive hammer of a clockwork samurai stockier and taller than a castle, its short “reign” over Takagoku ended. Heedful of warnings from the Oda (“No single uji should possess so overwhelming a weapon,” said their daimyo), the Ikeda decreed that the Nishio could no longer create clockwork warriors of such size.

But they would take a dozen smaller ones.

Nishio Onmyoji (Branch Discipline)
  • Discipline: Arima Onmyoji 1

Arise, Tetsu-yojimbo
Nishio onmyoji learn to construct clockwork warriors. Assuming you have a ready workshop, you may spend a week working doggedly to construct a tetsu-yojimbo, “iron bodyguards” capable of limited autonomy, with an Engineering (Clockworks)/Void roll; its TN depends on several variables. Every tetsu-yojimbo is a Kaonashi capable only of moving, attacking, defending, and using Bugei Skills (except for Senjojutsu); each is also a tsukugami, their construction leaving them bereft of awakening any further. To determine the TN of their construction roll, add their Rank and total number of Bugei Skills together, then multiply the result by the number of tetsu-yojimbo created. Thus, four tetsu-yojimbo, Rank 2, with Athletics and Kenjutsu Skills, would require a roll with TN 16. Construction time is lowered one day per Element you are proficient with.

Alternatively, you may spend a Season Action to construct tetsu-yojimbo. Multiply your Engineering by your Dharma; the total is the maximum TN of the construction roll you would normally make. Thus, if your Engineering is a 5 and your Dharma is 4, your maximum TN could be 20, allowing your to construct 5 tetsu-yojimbo, Rank 2, with Athletics and Kenjutsu.

Tsuchiya Mizuko was a mountainous woman whose hermitage overlooked the Upper Falls of Silver Dragon River. When the Arima agreed to take charge of the land above the falls and rebuild the Imperial road linking Chugoku with Mizugoku, Mizuko the mystic stood in their way. She challenged the right of samurai, even after the end of the Mikaboshi War, to ascend “her” mountains, standing firm with her mastery of staff and fire magic.

The heir of the Arima stepped forward with his sacred otsuchi, and took up the duel. Neither were short on skill, stepping lightly from boulder to boulder, tree to tree, staff and hammer whirling and sparking. Finally, Mizuko made a fatal mistake, exhausted, and slipped over the falls. The heir, Arima Gojo, reached out with the haft of his weapon. She grabbed it, accepting mercy. Gojo refused, and accepted that the duel continue. Shamed, she summoned her staff back to her hand, laid it on the ground, and summoned a flaming otsuchi to her hand. The staff shattered and dissolved into ash.

Tsuchiya Mizuko swore fealty to the Arima and took an oath that her descendents would never touch another staff; the Arima would not let her swear off her magic. She was granted a fief of her own above the falls, to guard the passage into Arima lands. Over the centuries her descendents developed a fierce fighting style combining their newfound veneration of the otsuchi and with their penchant for fire magic.

Tsuchiya Onmyoji (Branch Discipline)
  • Discipline: Arima Onmyoji 2

Hammer of Flame
Tsuchiya onmyoji revere the otsuchi, even more than their Arima lieges, and infuse theirs with deadly magic. You gain the Ancestral Blade Fortune for free, but instead of the normal blade this weapon must be an otsuchi. Any prayer roll made targeting or otherwise directly involving this otsuchi lowers its difficulty a number steps equal to your Fire; any other roll made while wielding the weapon gains Free Raises equal to your Fire.

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