Saturday, October 1, 2016

Magic: Earth, Fire, Metal, Water, and Wood

Now that the fundamentals of the magic system are laid out, the next post is going to an example of an Onmyoji set of Disciplines. Then an example of a Teishin (courtier, politician, magistrate) set of Disciplines. And then we can move on to actual character creation!


The samurai of Hachigoku venerate, fear, and ignore magic on strictly pragmatic terms. They venerate their own magic, be it the superstition of their local peasants, the powers of their own onmyoji, or the might of the Fortunes. They fear magic in the hands of their enemies, including that practiced by secret societies and those allied with corrupt yang or yin forces.

Any other source of magic, no matter how fantastic, is irrelevant.

Most magic follows the mechanics of the onmyoji's skill in renkinjutsu; when in doubt, interpret its use as a reasonable modification of the abilities of the onmyoji. While the entirety of an onmyoji's magical arts are known as onmyodo, it's the use of renkninjutsu most think of first.

Renkinjutsu: Prayers of the Onmyoji
The most viscerally powerful aspect of an onmyoji's abilities lies in their command of renkinjutsu, the alchemical mastery of elements. Changing both themselves and the surrounding world requires the onmyoji to understand the primal forces of the universe, yin and yang, and the material elements arising from their interplay: fire, water, earth, wood, and metal.

Onmyoji are gifted with the ability to sense the ebb and flow of the elements in the world, and taught to focus that energy into prayers awakening the power of the universe. All renkinjutsu lore is divided between two branches: gai-renkinjutsu (outer alchemy, dealing with the inorganic world) and nai-renkinjutsu (inner energy, dealing with the organic world). The two branches each demand intensive concentration in their use; every prayer must focus on one aspect or another.

Sidebar: Wind & Wood, Void & Metal

As noted in Chapter 1, the Godai (or Gorin) system of five elements differs somewhat from the five elements of change in Onmyodo. When rules speak of Renkujutsu, prayer rolls, and magic in general, Wood corresponds to Wind, and Metal corresponds to Void, despite their subtle differences.

What Gai-Renkinjutsu Can Do
Exactly how an onmyoji summons and controls the elemental energies at their command is a fiercely debated topic among the shuha of onmyoji throughout Hachigoku's history. But it is generally known that an onmyoji petitions the kami, Fortunes, or even ancestors with prayer. If properly cajoled, these forces bestow incredible powers. Tapping into the elemental energies of the kami allow onmyoji to influence and alter the world around them. Petitioning the Fortunes produces more elaborate effects, such as earthquakes and storms. Finally, by invoking the ancestors onmyoji are able to create wards against evil spirits and traverse the spirit realms.

The energies harnessed by gai-renkinjutsu center on the world outside the onmyoji, commanding and shaping the nonliving objects of nature and other powerful forces normally outside the control or understanding of mortals. With a judicious use of the five elements of Onmyodo philosophy, you may tunnel underground, throw fireballs, make it rain, summon tempests, or even step between the folds of reality. By mixing the elements, even more complicated substances and effects may be created, such as lightning, lava, or even being able to harm supernatural creatures with certain elemental sympathies.

The onmyoji may even use gai-renkinjutsu to awaken the sleeping kami within objects, or bind foreign kami into an object, creating magical items. The most well-known items are known as tsukugami, but onmyoji have perfected several such methods of creation over the centuries.

What Gai-Renkinjutsu Cannot Do
No matter how powerful an onmyoji becomes, their ability with gai-renkinjutsu stops at the individual, at life. While many onmyoji throughout the centuries struggle to understand why, the general consensus is that dealing with nonliving elements, and even the dead, is a matter of waking the slumbering kami within the object, or even within the metaphysical concept. The kami of living creatures, however, be they human, animal, or plants, are awake and composed of all the elements; this is the essence of consciousness, which onmyoji believe even the lowest forms of life posses, however rudimentary. The pleading and even commanding of gai-renkinjutsu, then, is not capable of forcing a living object to display or use its elemental energies beyond its normal scope.

Another restriction lies upon the onmyoji as well. Whether because of metaphysics or psychology, gai-renkinjutsu cannot truly alter the Celestial Order or pattern of the world. It may rend and reshape, even obliterate by ripping apart elemental energy and sending its kami fleeing, but it cannot bring about non-being. Nor may it simulate life by creating nonliving objects with true sentience; the creation of magical items may have awakened kami capable of communication, even the capability of sending strong emotions, but they cannot move or enforce their will without outside agency.
Time is problematic. On the one hand, divination is certainly possible and deals with being able to see into the future, or even into the past. Knowledge of such things resides within the onmyoji's power. However, the universe is contained by the everchanging flux of the elements, constantly in motion. Thus, while the onmyoji's senses may move throughout time, their body may not, nor may any other. Movement through time is so violent that even the sleeping kami of objects are ripped asunder if tossed into the river of time. Within the mortal realm, the onmyoji is bound to the single direction of time's spinning loom.

Nor may they cheat death. The span of mortal's life, be it human, animal, or plant, is decreed and assigned by the Celestial Order. While gai-renkinjutsu may not be able to touch life, the enterprising user may think they can simulate life, even recreate it, by animating dead material or controlling deceased spirits beyond their time in the mortal realm. While the dead can be affected and destroyed as nonliving objects, they cannot be returned to life nor be given a power of autonomous movement and thought. Likewise, while they may read the future with the help of the supernatural, and alter the events of a life afterward, they cannot deny death its due. Knowing this, onmyoji as a rule forbid the use of divination to discover the ends of a life.

More than one onmyoji has fallen to despair and corruption once burdened with such knowledge.

Voice of the Kami
Those trained in gai-renkinjutsu may speak with kami found sleeping in a campfire, lake, mountain, cloud, or any other nonliving manifestation of an element. You may only awaken and speak with a particular kami tied to an object or place once per Scene; the kami do not particularly like being awakened, however much they may feel an affinity with you. When dealing with kami, the spirit you are speaking with is considered to be the accumulation of all kami it contains, thus you cannot try speaking to multiple fire kami in a campfire repeatedly; they all speak as one or not all.

You may ask a number of questions up to your Dharma. If the object is composed of multiple elements (such as a volcano containing both strong Earth and Fire kami), you may choose which kami at whom to direct your speech. To ask more questions you may attempt to use a prayer or ofuda instead. Questions are important; the kami do not appreciate idle conversation. You may ask any question you please, but there is no guarantee the kami give an honest answer (they have inscrutable motives of their own), and your manner greatly influences the answers you receive (were you polite? Respectful? Angry? Afraid?). The spirits of each element answer questions differently:
  • Earth kami are blunt and to-the-point. Yet they can often be too precise and end up being misleading.
  • Fire kami are angry. They dislike being disturbed and if not properly appeased will be destructive. Those given a small sacrifice to burn become helpful.
  • Water kami do not speak, but only show visual reflections of the past and cannot convey sound (unless paired somehow with Wood kami, such as during a storm). They offer no opinions, only fact.
  • Wood kami usually give impressions and emotions, rather than speak of events themselves. Their whispers are cryptic, focused on what was spoken, not done.
  • Metal kami are found within forged items. Their answers are sharp and crisp, but they enjoy cutting the souls of those who awaken them. However, Metal is also used when speaking to ancestors, Fortunes, and other supernatural creatures of a spiritual nature.

What Nai-Renkinjutsu Can Do
Exactly how nai-renkinjutsu manipulates the elemental energies of life and awakened spirits is a fiercely debated topic among the onmyoji, much as it is with gai-renkinjutsu. It is generally accepted that onmyoji practicing nai-renkinjutsu, by maintaining an esoteric harmony with nature through arcane methods of meditation and conditioning considered “inner alchemy,” are able to hear and speak to their own inner elemental energies, enabling them to manipulate physical and spiritual forms. With enough insight, they may also manipulate the elements of others. By doing so, the onmyoji perform incredible feats of physical prowess and mental ability, even being able to shape their bodies into other forms.

The energies harnessed by nai-renkinjutsu center on the world inside the onmyoji, commanding the living objects of nature and modifying them to suit their desires. With a judicious use of the five elements, you may boost your Elements, change shape, send thoughts over vast distances, cause plants to grow or wither and die, speak to and command animals to do your bidding, or even heal and harm other beings directly.

What Nai-Renkinjutsu Cannot Do
No matter how powerful the onmyoji becomes, their power stops at forces outside mortal ability, outside of life. The inorganic world cannot be directly affected by nai-renkinjutsu. Onmyoji throughout the centuries struggle to understand this limitation, resulting in a general consensus that the emphasis on awakening the soul, in effect trying to go beyond the normal limitations of the complex kami a living being represents, renders an onmyoji too distant from the primal energies of less enlightened kami, such as those found in rocks and water, for intelligible communication using the same methods of cultivation.

Beyond this signature limitation, onmyoji face obligations forced on them by the Celestial Order as well. Whether because of metaphysics or psychology, nai-renkinjutsu cannot alter the pattern of the world. It may rend and shape, even obliterate by ripping apart elemental energy and sending its kami fleeing, ending life, but it cannot bring about non-being.

Time is problematic. On the one hand, divination is certainly possible and deals with being able to see into the future, or even into the past. However, gai-renkinjutsu can only do so through the sensory perception and agency of life, using an organic target in time as a point of view. However, the universe is contained by the everchanging flux of the elements, constantly in motion. Thus, onmyoji may move bodies through time, but only in the single direction of time moving forward, at least in the mortal realm.

Nor may they cheat death. The span of a mortal's life, be it human, animal, or plant, is decreed and assigned by the Celestial Order. While gai-renkinjutsu may heal the wounds and cure disease, they cannot resurrect the dead. Nor can they target the corporeal dead with their magic, although they may affect the incorporeal dead as they are either an awakened kami or the echo of one.

Aura Reading
Any user of nai-renkinjutsu is taught to skillfully read the auras of others and to understand their own. Whenever another creature is within their sensory range, onmyoji may spend an Honor to target the creature and any one Element to immediately discern its Rank. An onmyoji can also sense any attempt, whether magical, through an Okuden, or by any other means, to read their own Elements, and may spend an Honor to obscure their aura and defeat the attempt (note this does not cancel or negate the attempt).

Hachigoku itself is also suffused with spiritual energy, the countless kami filling every nook and cranny of the world. The passing of living beings and awakened kami exhibit some degree of influence on their surroundings, however faint. This residual “echo” of spiritual energy may be seen by any onmyoji schooled in nai-renkinjutsu; they need only to shift their senses into a spiritual mode, opening themselves up to ambient spiritual energy. If done within a the bounds of Skirmish, dosing so requires an Action; it also takes an Action to close those spiritual “eyes” again. They can now see any awakened objects and active magic, unless they are purposefully concealedi. Spirits that are not tethered to objects, such as ancestors and other supernatural creatures, cannot be sensed with this ability unless they wish it, although they may be sensed through prayer or ofuda. The rest of the world dims in comparison, giving the equivalent of “dim light” Moderate difficulty to all rolls involving sight.

It should be noted that blind onmyoji, even if their eyes are missing entirely, can still use this ability. However, the rest of the “dimmed” world remains unseen.

Elemental Prayer Effects
When an onmyoji wishes to use Renkinjutsu, praying for a magical effect, it is akin to “casting a spell” in other cultures. First, you must decide what effect you are looking for, and what element (or elements) best accomplishes it. You may be looking to throw fire, create an earthquake, step between spirit realms, create an elemental weapon, or jump a chasm, divine the thoughts of another, punch through stone, or even change into an animal. All of these effects lie within the auspice of one or more elements, and depend on whether you are trained in gai-renkinjutsu or nai-renkinjutsu.

Sidebar: Expanding Prayer Effects

The elemental effects listed are not fully exhaustive, they are only the most broadly orthodox uses. Clever onmyoji may justify additional elemental associations, sometimes requiring combinations, to their repertoire of prayer powers. These should flow from established associations, and require agreement between player and SD. Once established in as an effect of the element, this should remain fixed.

Using these unorthodox effects imposes Heroic difficulty on your prayer roll the first time; each subsequent prayer roll using the effect lowers the difficulty a single step. Once the difficulty reaches Average it becomes a standard effect for the enterprising onmyoji, and can only then be used with mantra or ofuda. Any onmyoji who witness or research this effect must overcome the same series of Difficulties when trying to imitate it.

Earth Prayer Effects: Onmyoji attuned to the Earth kami make them do their bidding, both in the world around them and the world within others. Mastery of Earth allows you to manipulate the soil and minerals of the world (but not its metals), or the wounds, fortitude, and willpower of the living. Earth also symbolizes a few other concepts, such as heaviness, vibrations, stability, and protection. It is also associated with the shape and space of enclosed areas, based on the flow of energy around the furnishings and leading to an art known as feng-shui (“geomancy”). This allows you to arrange rooms, buildings, and other structures in harmonious arrangements that may provide bonuses or other effects, depending on whether gai-renkinjutsu or nai-renkinjutsu. Finally, elements may be synchronized with certain weapons. For Earth, this includes the heavy crushing, cleaving, and bludgeoning weapons of Obujutsu, and the siege engines sometimes employed using Senjojutsu. Gai-rekinjutsu allows you to create such weapons out of materials connected to earth (but not metal), or affect such weapons (even if they are metal).

Certain kinds of minerals have peculiar interactions with Earth magic. Green jade is considered a sacred element, feared and reviled by those afflicted or created with Yang corruption. Any object, animal, person, plant, or supernatural creature with any amount of Yang imbalance is susceptible to being affected with Earth magic, even those native to Jigoku originally, but only in regards to damage and warding, regardless of whether you use gai-renkinjutsu or nai-renkinjutsu. You can even use Earth magic to protect yourself from Yang corruption, although it cannot be removed. White jade is
Certain elements have associations beyond their apparent properties. Jade is considered a sacred element, feared and reviled by those afflicted or created by those with Yang Corruption. Any object, animal, person, plant, or supernatural creature with any amount of Yang Corruption is susceptible to being affected with Earth magic, even those native to Jigoku originally, but only in regards to damage and warding. You cannot affect the Elements or mimic the effects of nai-renkinjutsu directly against such targets. You can even use earth magic to protect yourself from infection, although it cannot be removed once contracted. White jade and obsidian, like metal, are not covered under the Earth element.

Gai-renkinjutsu allows you to summon, shape, and control the various stones, clay, gems, and minerals of Hachigoku. This also covers finer grains of earth such as dust, sand, and even ash. Almost anything you can imagine can be formed with Earth, as long as the shape has a certain resonance: walls, buildings, statues, mountains, landscapes (not including the flora), jewelry, etc. Shaping and moving Earth likewise allows the creation of events including earthquakes and avalanches. You may transmute the various earthen materials into others as well, and into completely different materials if

Nai-renkinjutsu allows you to affect and manipulate your Earth and the Earth of other people or animals. It also allows you to heal Wounds or inflict them directly, although doing this is barred by the laws of the Onmyoryo; it can even allow you to knit entire limbs or organs back into their original, healthy state. You can also learn to change parts of your body into inorganic material, as long as it is earthen in nature. This can include hardening your skin or turning your limbs into weapons covered by Earth. Toughening the body can grant the benefits of armor, with each Effect equaling a tougher armor type (1 for ashigaru, 2 for light, etc.). Changing each limb requires an Effect, with the Damage of the weapon covered by the Damage of the prayer roll. Weapons covered by the Obojutsu Skill may be imitated; other weapons require the mixture of the appropriate weapon Element. Anything that becomes inorganic can no longer be affected by nai-renkinjutsu until the end of the prayer's duration. Such items cannot be disarmed, but if severed immediately turn back into flesh.

Fire Prayer Effects: One of man's oldest tools; both destructive and creative onmyoji are drawn to its power. The most common use of Fire is to cause damage and destruction, but it also allows you to summon, extinguish, and shape flame for your benefit. However, fire also governs aspects such as heat, light, fireworks, art, and illusions. Fire is also associated with weapons that pierce and slash swiftly, such as those using the Sojutsu Skills. Technically, Teppojutsu is also associated with Fire, but the laws of the Onmyoryo forbid using magic to create or modify such weaponry. Gai-renkinjutsu allows you to create such weapons out of a Fire safe to wield.

Strictly speaking, though, there are no laws against fireballs or explosions themselves.

White jade, which is affected by only by Fire, has a similar antipathy like its sibling green jade, but against Yin corruption instead of Yang corruption, and all those considered undead. Legend tells how the young world was able to capture Lady Sun's tears in veins of white jade, and some onmyoji can still tap this trapped “inner fire.” Affecting corporeal undead requires gai-renkinjutsu, while incorporeal undead require nai-renkinjutsu.

Gai-renkinjutsu allows you to manipulate flame and other environmental features related to Fire, whether to shape, create, or scatter them. Illusion is a particularly useful, and the complexity of the illusion may impose Difficulty modifiers to the prayer roll. Such illusions contain no other sensory elements (sound, smell, etc.) unless combined with appropriate Elements, and these illusions are strictly to be seen—only the nai-renkinjutsu application of Wood could imprint one in a person's mind. You can also sheathe a normal item (such as a weapon) in flame, increasing its Damage.
Nai-renkinjutsu dealing with the element of Fire find speed and finesse to be easily manipulated. Mastery of Fire allows you to affect and manipulate your Fire and that of others. You can even spend an Interrupt Action to make a prayer increase the kept dice of an attack roll, even if it's not yours. This overrules the normal prohibition against attacks with interruptions. Fire also governs speed and body temperature. With a prayer you can raise, lower, or otherwise manipulate the Action Dice of yourself and others, or raise your body's temperature, even heating the area around you. You may even use such a prayer roll sheathe your own body, in full or in part, in a flame that increases your barehanded Damage.

Metal Prayer Effects: Metal is something of an anomaly, as the steel of a katana is seen by samurai as the culmination of all elements together. Thus, to the onmyoji it is many things: an element in itself sympathetic with iron and other metals, and an end and beginning forged by all other elements, a void devoid of all other elements. In its resonance with metallic minerals and objects it can create and manipulate as the Earth element does with its own minerals, and is sympathetic to weapons covered by the Kenjutsu and Tantojutsu Skills.

Gai-renkinjutsu allows you to shape and manipulate the metals of the world in the same manner as you would with Earth magic. Beyond its resonance with metallic objects, its unique attributes also allow you to part the veils of the world and step into the spirit realms, or just detect where such portals exist. Dealing with the kami from such spirit realms also requires Metal; the Difficulty of detecting, summoning, and controlling such spirits depends on their power. Ancestor spirits have Moderate difficulty, spirits native to the realms have Hard difficulty, minor Fortunes have Heroic difficulty, and major Fortunes or powerful entities like Lady Sun or dragons have Legendary difficulty. Metal is also indispenible in the creation of tsukugami.
Metal seems nearly anethema to nai-renkinjutsu, as it appears completely alien to organic life. However, its elemental energy is actually vital to life. Thus, Metal corresponds with the world of the senses, allowing you to manipulate the senses of others, to inhibit or enhance, as well as your own. It is also the key toward transcending the physical plane, allowing you to communicate and sense awakened kami and spirits, such as incorporeal undead and magical items. Doing so follows the same general guidelines as using Wood to read minds.

Water Prayer Effects: Water as an element not only confers control over obvious bodies of water, from puddles to the sea, floods to tsunami, but grants the same dominion over other fluids, including: tea, sake, mercury, liquid poisons, etc. Those gifted in Water are thus highly valued by everyone from caravan masters and innkeepers to sailors and tea ceremony masters. Water is also sympathetic with weapons covered by Kusarigamajutsu and Taihojutsu.

Gai-renkinjutsu not only covers the liquids, but aspects such as reflections, and allows you to remove water from objects (although not living bodies, of course). Time, too, resonates with Water, including divination and reading the past of an area or object (although this also requires a sympathetic element).

Nai-renkinjutsu finds grace to be easily manipulated. Mastery of Water allows you to affect and manipulate your Water, and also allows you to manipulate the fluids and nutrients in another's body, such as causing or alleviating hunger and thirst (one day per Bonus Effect), curing or causing disease (GM's discretion), or affecting poison in another's system (curing or creating requires a prayer roll against the TN of the poison). You may not directly affect blood, however, without incurring the immediate wrath of other onmyoji.
Water is also the element of change. Such prayers can change your shape or that of another. Changes in height or weight require Effects; small changes require only a single Effect, but any that may remove or grant Fortunes (such as Towering Presence, Shadowed Presence, etc.) require two or three Effects, depending. Adding entirely new limbs or inhuman changes requires at least four or more Effects (GM's discretion). Changing into entirely different species or even plants will require multi-element prayers.

Wood Prayer Effects: Wood is a strangely dual-focused element. It not only covers objects and concepts related to trees, but as a tree reaches into the sky which covers the world, so does Wood grant control of wind and the invisible things of the world, including the minds of mortals. Sound, silence, darkness, and cold are also aspects of Wood. Weapons sympathetic to wood not only includes the peasant weapons of Nofujutsu, but also any ranged weapon, whether thrown with Athletics or shot with Ishiyumijutsu or Kyujutsu.

Gai-renkinjutsu allows you to create and control anything composed of wood or other formerly living material, such as fur, silk, or lacquer. This only effects wood and otherwise organic material as long as it has been cut off from life; it is not capable of getting around the restrictions of gai-renkinjutsu. It also grants you control of wind, anything from a breeze to a gale, whirlwinds to cyclones, as well as clouds. You can even manipulate air to create a bubble to breathe underwater, use air currents to lift you or others into the air via flight or telekinesis, encase an enemy in choking, noxious vapor, or blast them with a tempest.

Nai-renkinjutsu deals with the charisma and wits, both mental and physical, allowing them to be easily manipulated. Mastery of Wood allows you to affect and manipulate your Wind and that of others. It also allows you to enhance or dampen your voice, and manipulate social rolls. It also allows you to plumb the depths of your mind, and those of others. How many questions you may ask concerning yours or another's memory, or how many messages you can transmit and receive, is governed by Effects. With more Effects, you can also create mental illusions or false memories. Complete mental wipes or brainwashing is possible, but extraordinarily difficult (GM's discretion). Of course, its most common use affects plants and trees. You can control, harm, heal, encourage, wither, and even communicate with plant life.

One of the more esoteric uses, and frowned on by many Onmyoji sects, is to make the body intangible or invisible. Doing so may be done as an interruption (including as an active Defense against an attacks you are aware of), and being invisible dampens the halo of enlightenment.

Combining Elements: For spectacular and complex effects, onmyoji may need to combine different aspects of elements together. Other times they may combine elements with each purely to enhance a cosmetic or aesthetic aspect of the prayer, such as creating a fiery katana (Fire and Metal) or an invisible hole (Earth and Wood). Different effects include:
  • Acid: Fire and Water.
  • Glass, Lava: Earth and Fire.
  • Lightning: Fire and Wood.
  • Mirrors (Scrying): Metal and Water.
  • Mud, Mudslides, Quicksand: Earth and Water.
  • Music, Musical Instruments: Earth, Water, and Wood.
  • Oxidation, Rust: Earth and Metal.
  • Sandstorm: Earth and Wood.
  • Rain: Water and Wood (+ Fire for lightning, + Earth for hail).

The Prayer Roll
Conceptually, onmyoji are trained in a three-fold process of realizing their prayers: Attuning, Focus, and Manifestation. The use of gai-renkujutsu or nai-renkinjutsu is of no matter; the use of either abides by the same game mechanics.

Attuning: The onmyoji forms the image of the elements in their head, as per their Discipline's teaching and diagrams, and moves their spiritual energy in that direction, voicing wishes with words. Thus, performing a prayer requires an unfettered voice; you cannot be gagged or silenced in any way. You are now attuned to the kami.

Determine what you want to do in a general sense by defining the basic parameters of the prayer. Every prayer has five statistics defining it beyond its general effects: area, distance, duration, power, and damage. Each of these parameters is linked to an element: Earth partakes of area, Wood partakes of distance, Water partakes of duration, Metal partakes of power, and Fire partakes of damage.
Once the prayer's effects and parameters have been determined, it's time to roll. Each prayer has a Magnitude equal to the total of all parameters being used. Thus, a prayer with Area 2, Distance 0, Duration 1, Power 1, and Damage 0 would have a 4 Magnitude. If the prayer combines effects from across multiple elements, you suffer a difficulty step for each additional element. So if the previous example included lightning, which would be Fire and Wood, the prayer roll would have Moderate difficulty.

No prayer has a Magnitude less than 1, even if its parameters are all Rank 0.

Focus: To bridge the gap between his desire and the kami's power, you must now focus your concentration. Typically onmyoji spend very little time on this step; they conceive, focus, and release as a single Action. Some prayers, however, require a good deal more attention; their demands are higher than the onmyoji might normally be able to reach. They may then choose to focus for a longer time. You can spend additional Actions before making the prayer roll; each such Action spent grants a bonus difficulty modifier; if you spent a total of 3 Actions, the roll would gain Simple difficulty.

Release: The energy of the kami has been sown and harvested; now the onmyoji releases it back into the world. Attempting to command the kami requires a prayer roll: Renkinjutsu/appropriate Element. If the prayer combines elements, use the lowest Element. Any bonus or penalties applying to any Elements in use apply to the roll.

Every prayer roll has a passive TN equal to the Magnitude of the prayer x 5. If subsequent prayers of an element are made during a Scene, the TN has a +1 penalty. This effect is cumulative, although failed prayer rolls do not count. The kami are fickle and not to be taken for granted; continuously calling upon them with no rest is seen as abusive treatment.

Prayer Parameters
The maximum extent of each parameter is determined by the appropriate Element. Earth, Fire, and Water as renkinjutsu Elements have obvious analogues to yours; Wood, however, corresponds with Wind, and Metal corresponds to Void. These maximums may be modified by any Okuden or Fortunes. You are free, however, to design a prayer that does not utilize its fullest capability. Each parameter is measured on a scale from 0 to 6, each level allowing greater capability and finesse; the only limitation is that a parameter may not exceed the Rank of its corresponding Element in a character.

Area (Earth)

0 – Single Target
1 – Multiple Targets/Close Range Radius
2 – Room/Near Range Radius
3 – Building/Long Range Radius
4 – City/Far Range Radius
5 – Region/Extreme Range Radius
6 – Continent/Ocean

  • Single Target: The prayer may only affect a single target. This may be a person or creature if it is a spell intended to cause harm via an element or create an object (such as a weapon) for the target to use. This may also include an object whose size does not exceed the size of the average human.
  • Multiple Targets/Close Range Radius: The prayer may now affect multiple targets. Alternatively, it may affect a general area with a radius equivalent to close range combat (generally within 5').
  • Room/Near Range Radius: The prayer can affect a single room, an enclosed, constructed space with walls and a roof, however large; hallways and corridors are considered separate rooms unto themselves. Outdoors or underground, the area may be equivalent to near range combat in radius.
  • Building/Long Range Radius: The prayer can affect a single building, a constructed edifice with walls and a roof, however large. Outdoors or underground, the area may be equivalent to a long range combat in radius.
  • City/Far Range Radius: The prayer can affect an entire city, from a village to a metropolis. Outdoors or underground, the area may be equivalent to the far range combat in radius.
  • Region/Extreme Range Radius: The prayer can affect an entire region, from a forest or mountain to a han or even one of the seven Goku. Alternatively, it can affect a body of water large enough to be called a sea. This can be considered equivalent to extreme range combat in radius.
  • Continent/Ocean: The prayer can affect an entire continent, even outside of Hachigoku, or an entire ocean. Only the most learned and traveled onmyoji are even aware of the true size and breadth of the world beyond Hachigoku.

Damage (Fire)

0 – 1 Wound/Weapon DR +1k1.
1 – 2 Wounds/Weapon DR +2k2.
2 – 3 Wounds/Weapon DR +3k3.
3 – 4 Wounds/Weapon DR +4k4.
4 – 5 Wounds/Weapon DR +5k5.
5 – 6 Wounds/Weapon DR +6k6.
6 – 7 Wounds/Weapon DR +7k7.

You must inflict at least 1 Wound by means of the Fire parameter in order to increase the damage by the routine use of Raises. However, you can amplify the damage directly by increasing this parameter; this damage is done equally to every target.
Additionally, if the prayer is used to create a weapon, either as part of the onmyoji or separately, the Damage of the weapon is equal to the parameter used. This Damage can be manipulated by switching rolled and kept dice on a 1-for-1 basis. Thus a parameter of 1 could be a weapon of +2k2, +3k1, or +1k3. Any weapon thus created must have a minimum Damage equal to the weapon copied, +1 parameter for any effect the weapon carries beyond damage. An ono, normal Damage +0k4, equals parameter 1. A tetsubo equals parameter 2 for its Damage +1k3 and its special abilities. A ranged weapon is considered to have a special ability.

Distance (Wood)

0 – Personal
1 – Sensory
2 – Intimate
3 – Known
4 – Acquainted
5 – Encountered
6 – Described

  • Personal: Prayers designed to function at this distance require you to actually touch the target; this may involve an Athletics or Karate Skill roll, keeping Agility, if the target is unwilling. This distance also applies to prayers targeting yourself.
  • Sensory: You can see, hear, or otherwise sense the focus of your prayer directly. If at a great distance, the GM may require a Void roll with an appropriate TN.
  • Intimate: You have a piece of the target's physical substance, be it as small as a hair (if attempting to damage a target, for instance, or create an object in their hands), splinter (from a building), or stone (from a natural area), or larger, such as a tree, boulder, etc. Or you know the target very well, such as a longtime friend, close family member, or prized item. This may include a Holding.
  • Known: You know the target, which might be a friend, comrade, or personal possession. This may include any Holding of a Wa comrade or Ally. Also, you may have a reasonable artistic depiction of the target, or even have a sensory connection removed (such as via scrying).
  • Acquainted: You're acquainted with the target. It might be a casual acquaintance, a fellow uji samurai you barely know, an item held or used once, or a place visited rarely.
  • Encountered: You have encountered the target briefly, such as a person you passed on the street, an item you touched once, or a place you visited once.
  • Described: You have never encountered the target, but can describe it. You might know a name or physical description, or what n object or place looks like.

It is important to note that, in terms of distance, all renkinjutsu is bound to the Spirit Realm it originates within. Thus, you cannot design a prayer with a target that exists within another Spirit Realm, either because it is native to the Realm or fled there. However, you may use Metal to travel into the appropriate Realm before using renkinjutsu against the target.

Duration (Water)

0 – Instant
1 – Scene
2 – Story
3 – Season
4 – Year
5 – Lifetime
6 – Permanent

  • Instant: The prayer takes effect immediately upon casting, and its effect does not last longer than that moment. This is typically true for prayers designed to harm or transmute objects.
  • Scene: The prayer's effects last for the rest of the Scene. You can end these effects at will.
  • Story: The prayer's effects last for the rest of the Story. You can end these effects at will.
  • Season: The prayer's effects last for the rest of the Season. You can end these effects at will. In addition, you may spend a Season Action to create such a prayer. Unlike most Season Actions, this resolves immediately.
  • Year: The prayer lasts for four seasons, and you may end the effects at will or at a predetermined time (usually a sacred day or festival). You may spend a Season Action to create such a prayer as if it only lasted a Season.
  • Lifetime: The prayer lasts for a lifetime. This need not be your lifetime, but it cannot be equal to the lifetime of a Kami character or anything with an indefinite lifespan (such as a building, place, etc.).
  • Permanent: The prayer has a permanent effect that can only be ended by the destruction of the target object or place.

Power (Metal)

0 – Effects equal to your Void.
1 – Effects equal to your Void + 1; + or – 1 to an Element.
2 – Effects equal to your Void + 2; + or – 2 to an Element.
3 – Effects equal to your Void + 3; + or – 3 to an Element.
4 – Effects equal to your Void + 4; + or – 4 to an Element.
5 – Effects equal to your Void + 5; + or – 5 to an Element.
6 – Effects equal to your Void + 6; + or – 6 to an Element.

Measuring Power is slightly different from the other parameters. This covers any prayer effect not covered by the other parameters. You may create prayers with effects defined by the elements involved after the same manner as Effects created normally by Raises, but Power denotes Effects above and beyond those granted by your normal Raises, nor limited by your Void. You are free to have as few Effects as you wish, rounding up for determining Power. Thus, if you have Void 3 then your maximum bonus Effects is 6. Bonus Effects cannot be used to incorporate Attack and Defense maneuvers requiring Raises or difficulty modifier (such as increased damage or blind shots) into the prayer; instead, you may only add such maneuvers normally to the prayer roll itself. Otherwise these Effects are governed under their normal rules.

Alternatively, your prayer may directly affect Elements themselves according to the Power parameter. The Elements may be raised or lowered by an integer equal to the parameter, assuming you have access to the proper Element. Thus, if you have a Void of 3 and access to Water you may raise or lower another's Water by 3. However, trying to directly affect another's Element raises the TN of the prayer by the target's Element. If trying to affect multiple Elements or targets, use the highest Element among them. If an Element is reduced to 0 or lower, the Element is useless. Those with no fire can barely move their limbs to walk, those with no Water have no grace to defend themselves, those with no Wind are drooling idiots. Loss of all Earth kills instantly. Of course, targeting living beings with these effects is only possible with nai-renkinjutsu, although gai-renkinjutsu can affect other things with Elements of their own, such as undead.

Ritual Prayer
Using renkinjutsu may also be a group roll among onmyoji, using the same rules as for normal group rolls. A single onmyoji is chosen as the primary actor, and others can join in for a +1k0 bonus per each, but only up to the lowest Dharma of all the actors. However, ritual partners may add an additional aspect to the prayer, namely in terms of the parameters. Thus the limit of the parameters are equal to the highest Element among all the actors, even if the primary actor actually possesses less aptitude in an Element.

Ritual prayers take longer than normal ones. During a Skirmish, all those involved in a ritual prayer must sacrifice all their Actions for no further benefit; they may increase the time taken for the ritual by a number of rounds; each additional round counts as if an individual prayer were sacrificing additional Actions. The prayer roll and its effects take place during the last Moment of the round.
Outside of a Skirmish, a prayer ritual is considered to take an until the end of the Scene before going into effect. Multiple Scenes may be spent (probably ones unconnected to the original Scene directly) on the ritual, with the same benefits as spending multiple rounds in a Skirmish.

Chanting Mantra & Flinging Ofuda
Over the centuries onmyoji developed variations on prayer to summon the aid of the kami more swiftly and dependably: mantra and ofuda. Mantra are rote prayers chanted by the omyoji in a set pattern, and ofuda are single page scrolls that perish in the casting. Both allow an onmyoji to call on the kami with substantially less difficulty and preparation. A list of sample, common mantra and ofuda are provided in Chapter 6: Onmyoji.

Mantra: Common or oft-used prayers tend to achieve a “canon” status among certain onmyoji, and over time tonal techniques and syllabic oscillation chisels the prayer formula into a mind. Even the kami become accommodating, comfortable with structured hymn. Common mantra tend to have names with a mixed air of sanctity and tradecraft (like Purity Strike); more personalized, idiosyncratic ones often bear their creator's name and outlandishly descriptive bombast (Akiko's Wandering Sixth Happiness Elixir).

Mantra may be used with either gai-renkinjutsu or nai-reninkinjutsu prayers; it is said the Pilgrim introduced mantra dealing with nai-renkinjutsu, and the Makino uji applied the discovery to gai-renkinjutsu. Once a mantra is learned, you may use a prayer, with no situational modifications other than normal difficulty modifiers and Raises, at a simple TN with a single Action, or by spending an Honor. Once transformed into a mantra, the prayer is no longer subject to your Renkinjutsu Skill. Instead, gai-renkinjutsu mantra use Shingaku, and nai-renkinjutsu use Zen.

Learning a mantra is an arduous process for the onmyoji, and very few practice them. First you must determine the normal Magnitude of the prayer, and be able to use the appropriate Renkinjutsu style and element. Then you must spend Season Actions equal to the prayer's Magnitude (remember, no Magnitude may be below 1); all of these Season Actions must be spent in a single Season. Lastly, what mantra gain in convenience they lose in sheer power: no prayer parameter may be higher than Rank 4.

Ofuda: Using specially prepared paper and a written form of the language spoken in Tengoku, onmyoji may commit the power of a prayer to a small square, usually rolled up into a scroll for ease of travel. Onmyoji may place (or toss) these squares at objects (organic targets for nai-renkinjutsu, inorganic targets for gai-renkinjutsu) to activate their magic. Onmyoji fond of using ofuda often carry them in an ornate ofuda satchel, usually containing no more than twenty such scrolls. Specialists occasionally secret even more in their kimono, obi, or even under their jingasa.

Ofuda may be used with either gai-renkinjutsu or nai-renkinjutsu prayers; legend credits the Makino with bringing nai-renkinjutsu of ofuda across the sea in their flight, while gai-renkinjutsu okuda became popular during the Kaiju War. Once a prayer is inscribed on ofuda, you may use the prayer, with no situational modifications other than normal difficulty modifiers and Raises, at a simple TN with a single Action, or by spending an Honor Point. Once transformed into an ofuda, the prayer is no longer subject to your Renkinjutsu Skill. Instead, gai-renkinjutsu mantra use Oratory, and nai-renkinjutsu use Medicine. Once activated, ofuda perish in a flash of mystic flame.

Onmyoji craft ofuda by a prescribed set of arcane rituals unique to their Discipline, and use materials ceremonially purified. Creating one requires an entire Scene of uninterrupted work and normal prayer roll, using the appropriate Skill instead of Renkinjutsu. Alternatively, you may use Season Actions equal to the Magnitude of the prayer to create a number of identical of ofuda equal to your Onmyoji Dharma x the corresponding Element (ofuda using more than a single Element only consider the lowest). The Season Actions must all be used in a single Season, and no parameter may exceed Rank 4.


In a world suffused with kami, yokai, bakemono, and other celestial interference below, everyday objects are not immune to enhancement and enchantment. And being cursed. Magical items are either awakened to their own potential power, or infused with external kami. These items, commonly termed tsukugami, may only exist briefly at an onmyoji's behest, or be passed down from generation to generation.

Sidebar: Tsukugami Kaonashi

Traditionally, tsukugami once referred to objects more than a century old who gained sentience through the sheer experience of existence; nothing sleeps forever. Over time, the term came to encompass all awakened and magically created items. These living items still exist, however, and either bless or haunt their households, often without revealing themselves to their unaware inheritors. Items vary in power according to their type and age. For every additional century past the first they survived intact, their Rank increases by 1 (5 is still their maximum, of course). A tsukugami can move, think, and, if they wish, speak in a manner according to their Rank, having all Elements. You can also spend an Honor Point to elevate the tsukugami to Namae status. Finally, every tuskugami has Skills pertinent to their normal use (a tsukugami katana has Kenjutsu, a tsukugami anvil has Craft, etc.).

Not every item becomes a tsukugami naturally; awakening is no small feat. The vast majority of items, regardless of age, are not awakened. You can declare an object to be tsukugami by spending Raises equal to the awakening object's Kaonashi Rank + centuries survived. Once awakened, it at its full powers.

1—Small household items (chopsticks, hair ornaments, bowels, etc.)
2—Medium household items (chests, futons, small statues, etc.)
3—Weapons and large items (life-size statues, rickshaws, etc.)
4—Suits of armor and giant items (huge statues, etc.)
5—Only possible with age.

Hakanai Tsukugami
Hakanai (“fleeting”) tsukugami are most common tsukugami, created by onmyoji by prayer rolls using gai-renkinjutsu. Any magical item or weapon created by a prayer roll that lasts for less than the lifetime of the onmyoji is considered hakanai. These are created either for personal use or given as temporary gift in light of an emergency or quest. Such tsukugami are not considered Kaonashi. Since these are by nature gai-renkinjutsu, they do not mimic the effects of nai-renkinjutsu.

Bishamon's Defender (Element: Metal)
Magnitude: 5 (Area 0, Damage 1, Distance 1, Duration 1, Power 2)

Bishamon's Defender is a katana (Damage +2k2) constructed out of all nearby metallic kami (1 Effect). This blade cannot be disarmed, except by the wielder's choice (1 Effect). The difficulty of using the Defense maneuver Guard is reduced by 2 steps (2 Effects).
Note: While Bishamon's Defender is usually a katana, most weapons can be created (having Damage +0k4, +1k3, +3k1, or +4k0) by varying the Element used.

Shokunin Tsukugami
Shokunin (“artisan”) tsukugami are far more uncommon. Like hakanai items, these tsukugami are created through prayer rolls, but made to exist either for the lifetime of the onmyoji or beyond. Many onmyoji craft these as gifts for superiors. Trustworthy daimyo are given permanent items; more suspicious onmyoji create tsukugami lasting only their lifetime, either so no other can claim their treasure or the better to insure their lives remain valuable a gift's receiver.
All too often, onmyoji discover safety is all too reliably insured behind locked dungeon doors.

Hikaru's August and Benevolent Biwa (Element: Water + Wood)
Magnitude: 12 (Area 2, Damage 0, Distance 1, Duration 6, Power 3)

Created for Hikaru-hime, after her passage the enchanted instrument returned to the hands of its Shimazu crafter, and remains a cherished family treasure. When played, all poisonous liquids in the vicinity turn to water (1 Effect), except for alcohol (1 Effect). Any concealed objects (including hidden weapons or invisible objects) are instantly laid bare (1 Effect). Finally, any Performance rolls involving the biwa (including accompanying dance, theater, etc.) have Mundane difficulty (3 Effects).

Mijuku Tsukugami
While the first two classes of tsukugami are intentional creations of onmyoji (or other mystic beings), mijuku (“immature”) tsukugami are the kind that develop their powers over time, awakened by the force of personality in their bearers or generations of filial piety. These powers are typically minor, such as Free Raises or beneficial difficulty modifiers, but since they are not products of onmyoji, their effects may mimic either gai-renkinjutsu or nai-renkinjutsu. Many do not even know they are bearing such devices; the streets of Hachigoku are filled with amulets, charms, personal items, and weapons only slightly awakened and completely unknown to their owners. An onmyoji using Eyes of the Kami or Aura Reading can see them, but dimly. All such items are not considered Kaonashi; they have not fully awakened.

Senzo Tsukugami
Senzo (“ancestor”) tsukugami are more powerful and fully awakened tsukugami; they are Kaonashi and often seen as evidence of the bearers' right to hold power within an uji or other group. Every uji founded before the departure of Hikari-hime holds an ancestral daisho and armor known to be senzo tsukugami; some tsukugami are particular about their new owners, and others feel as duty-bound as any samurai.

Shari (“relics”) are considered the highest class of tsukugami whose origins have a sacred, otherworldly origin. These include the star gems of the Seven Fortunes, the shards of Amaterasu's Mirror, and other tools and weapons which changed the course of history. Such powerful artifacts are not inherently holy; they may also come from Jigoku.

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