Original SA post
It was briefly covered in the first thread under the name Yuuyake Koyake. Basically you play animals who turn into people to hang out & be bros.
Well that's probably the best lead in I'm ever going to get.
Hengeyokai was the Werewolf: The Apoaclypse entry in the 'Year Of The Lotus', which also gave us Kindred of the East which was reviewed in the last thread. Unlike Kindred of the East this was the only published book for the setting. Hopefully by the time we're finished you'll see why.
The Back of the book blurb gives us this
On Hemmed-in Ground, Resort to Stratagem...
The Wheel of Ages turns steadily to the age of blood and fire, the age that Westerners call the Apocalypse. The ghostly roars of battles yet to come resound in the Yang realms, and the cries of wild devils echo between mountaintops. And the beast-changers, the moon's children - the hengeyokai - hear them all. The Tigers watch the sun descend; the goblin spiders crawl in the shadows; the foxes whistle to one another; the dragons below the mountains wake. The time of great war is here.
On Desperate Ground, Fight!
Hengeyokai: Shapeshifters of the East details the werecreatures of Asia, their sorcery and tactics, and their blood enemies. What's more, there's information on the spirit world of the East, as well as setting information on the Middle Kingdom and the Beast Courts. Finally, the elusive werefoxes - the Kitsune - appear in all the detail of a changing Breed Book proper. Ignore this wisdom at your own risk.
Hengeyokai: Shapeshifters of the East includes
Details on the many Changing Breeds of the East, including Hakken Garou, Tengu and Zhong Lung
Full details on the Kitsune; an entire changing breed book included within
Specific cosmology on the Asian spirit worlds, new Gifts, rites and powers, antagonists and more
Yup, once again the spirit world is completely different
. Also, that note on the Kitsune is true. They technically did not exist before this book.
As per any of the other details, that won't be explained for two chapters.
They have far more important things to show us first
LUNA BEAST SENTAI GAIAMON!
No you aren't missing anything, these are the first two pages of the book. I have to admit I like their attention to detail in trying to get the Manga style down, right down to the chibi-fox head in the speech bubble.
Pardon me miss you appear to have fractured your neck, and perhaps your back considering the way you're thrusting your chest out for our benefit. Apparently her name is Bareiho, and she's a Were-Fox. The werewolf in the background is Okami(Yes). The Guy with the feather cloak is a were-Crow named Kuei. Kim is the guy wearing the headband and he's a Were-Tiger. And the dour looking guy screaming 'you idiot' is Gajani, and he's a Dragon.
Yeah, a Dragon, what?
Something's wrong with Gareiho's face again.
Here we have Gareiho's contribution to the combat... she makes an origami squid, and throws it at the bad guys, who look marginally surprised, then she smashes a guys neck between her shin and thigh... Also on this page: Okami being a literal lone wolf. And yes, throwing razor sharp feathers at people, magic origami, and cutting a 50 yard path with a sword strike are things you can do in this game.
Remember though, this is supposed to be a serious look at the culture of Asian were-beasts.
I know what you're wondering, and this came out about a year before Naruto's original Japanese manga release.
Yes, Tiger Kamehameha's are a thing too.
I have no idea what's happening here beyond the fact that someone Okami knew is dead now, he may be as well. Whatever.
Need I point out that at a few points the game actively discourages you from running a game like this, because it's silly and kills the mood?
Next time, Rul
ahahaha no. We've got another two chapters and a 3 page glossary to go through before we get to anything even remotely resembling setting information or rules.
Introductions and Chapter 1
Original SA post
Hengeyokai: Introductions and Chapter 1
We're finally getting into some of the meat of this book, but there's still two chapters of stuff to get through before the book gets to what it calls Chapter 1.
This has nothing to do with anything in this chapter.
Intro Fiction: An Inauspicious Burial
We open with an American Stargazer(Remember, this is before they all abandoned the west to their own devices) in a graveyard in China. Bringing the cremains of one of his master's friends to his family's old burial ground. While there he stumbles upon a war party of eastern shifters. They discover him and confront him, asking what he's doing in china.
"Wait a minute... you have the bones of a Li in there?" asked the girl.
"yes, Li Feng."
"My grandfather knew a Li Feng," she began.
"Sure. So this cur knows a name and he brought a vase. The Lis were wiped out by the People's Republic, and I don't see one here to vouch for him," snapped the watchman.
"Enough, Hong. Let her speak." said the youth.
"Grandfather's Li Feng had crossed eyes and second sight. His branch of the family left in the wake of the Nationalists."
The stargazer's face fell. "He must have been a different Li of the same name. The master had perfect eyes, but could read only books and the sky. He wouldn't have known a ghost if it bit him."
The girl laughed gently behind him. "That's the one."
Michael's brow furrowed in confusion, but the circle around him relaxed and broke. The young man strolled easily toward him, and the confrontation seemed to be over.
"For the moment."
So even while they're being amazingly even handed for dealing with a westerner, they're still dicks. I guess that's okay.
Michael challenges them for their names and the young one, named Wu, introduces them all and they start shapeshifting. The other werewolf even introduces himself personally, which causes Hong (the rat) to throw a fit since they're "dancing around the issue". Wu(the fox) tells him he has to leave, but Michael points out that his Master was an astrologer, and he needs to be buried tonight. This mollifies most of the other pack who seem to want to allow him to, but Wu and Hong tell him he can't stay.
Apparently another war-party of Kuei-Jin is coming, and they're here to meet them. This causes Michael to balk a bit, you know, since they're described to him as "minor demons of retribution". But Wu (the fox) points out that there is a Caern on the Li family grounds, and there's been kind of a cold war going on between the Kuei-Jin and the Hengeyokai where they transfer ownership from time to time, but neither actually wants it destroyed. However there are wyrm spirits that are going to show up and both sides need to fight. But if the Hengeyokai have 6 members in attendance to the Kuei-jin's 5, they'll think they broke the truce and the cold war will be over. Jimi offers to watch over his master's remains while he steps sideways to hide until the vampires leave, and Michael agrees since Master Li wouldn't want a caern lost on his account.
"Too late," Hong Tan cried softly.
Wu Bingshu rose. Jimi fluttered back into the shadows.
"They're here." She faltered.
"I'm sorry," said Michael. He sought the Fox's eyes and saw a hardness there he had not expected - and realized with a shock that it was not directed at him.
Wu Bingshu's gaze flickered briefly toward the Garou.
"Stay. Turn. They are here
"And they are seven."
I like this story. It shows that, while the Hengeyokai are still kind of dicks to Western shapeshifters, they're actually kind of understanding of extenuating circumstances, and are willing to hear him out.
This won't be the case forever.
The Vulcan yakuza?
Introduction: The Changing Phantoms
Time to take an aside here and point out why calling them "Hengeyokai" was probably a bad idea. The word itself was invented for ADnD as near as I can tell, and has continued on through it's various editions more or less untouched, even getting into Pathfinder and 4th edition. The name was probably chosen just for that reason, it was easily recognizable. The word itself is just the Japanese word for changing/shapeshifting "Henge" mashed up against the word for basically any supernatural creature "Yokai", the book is quick to point out that the Beast Courts encompass the vast majority of Asia and the Philippines, omitting only Russia and parts of India, using a Japanese term rather than, say, one that's completely made up seems rather odd.
This is omitting the fact that there IS a Japanese term for shapeshifting creatures such as Kitsune, Bakemono, but that's what the Hengeyokai call Formori.
White Wolf, everyone.
We're finally going to be introduced to what the book is going to be about. First ofall they're quick to point out, all Asian myths about shapeshifters are wrong. All asian werebeasts obey a culture older than recorded history and quite unlike huamn fable, and as such have grown apart from their western cousins. And whenever the Garou actually manage to gain an audience with the Asian shapeshifters and speak to them about the Apocalypse "The Eastern shapeshifters merely shake their heads, as if being berated by an arrogant child."
The Eastern shapeshifters are like the Westerners, but they fight their war differently. "They take tea with their enemies and treat their friends with coolness rather than passion. They are the Changing Phantoms - The hengeyokai." The war of rage never reached Asia, for some reason, instead the hengeyokai fought a common enemy in the bane lords known as the Yama Kings. So they all cooperate with each other.
Finally we're left with a Cautionary note.
A word of warning: Although hengeyokai characters can be blended into groups of Westerners, you should do so very carefully. If hengeyokai immediately start popping up in septs and packs across the West, the flavor of the book - the flavor of exoticism - is lost. After all, how special can the Kitsune be when every group of players has at least one in their ranks?
The theme that things are special and amazing just because
is something that's going to come up a lot, as evidenced by the fact that we get a 3 page glossary of terms that get their own special words just because they're in Asia.
These chapter images are just going to keep getting more and more ridiculous.
Chapter 1: Lands of the Emerald Mother
Bakemono - A formor; formori.
Beast Courts of the Emerald Mother - A formal term for hengeyokai society; all eastern shapechangers who follow Gaia are honorary members, while some pledge themselves entirely to the Court's law. Often shortened to Beast Courts.
Centipede, centipedes - slang for the Wyrm or its servants.
The Courts - hengeyokai shorthand for the Beast Courts of the Emerald Mother; considered disrespectfully terse by some elders.
Mirror Lands - The Penumbra
Namebreakers - Mages; used with contempt.
Sixth Age - The Apocalypse; not considered by hengeyokai to be the end of all things, but merely the nadir of the cycle.
Sunset People - Western shapechangers; references their fatalism more than the fact that they come from the west. "the sunset people do not believe the sun will rise again"
The Tapestry - the middle umbra; also used by hengeyoai to differentiate their spirit world from the one known by the Sunset People
The Wall -
The eleventh studio album by Pink Floyd
The War of Shame - A great war like the War of Rage, fought among hengeyokai in the Fourth age and instigated by Wan Xian manipulation
This chapter opens up with a "hot blooded boy" in a leather jacket being led into a cave by a guide with a small paper lantern. He isn't happy about this and just won't shut up, calling his guide a 'barbarian' and asking why their court isn't back in Guilin instead of down here in a cave. The guide replys only "Keep walking, cub." So the boy shifts up to Crinos form and claims that he is to be respected since "I was killing Ivory Princes in the Cat Street Market before I was fifteen, and now I have claws that have tasted demon blood! You better treat me like the warrior I am or I'll-" and then his guide backhands him so hard he loses some teeth. Said guide then picks him up by the shirt and slams him into the ground a few times for good measure, before pulling him sideways and into the Caern proper.
There it's described as less of a cave and more of a palace, with a dragon coiled around a large central pillar, flanked by a man and a woman holding weaponry, and a bunch of other people/creatures milling about. The guide tosses him to the ground where he immediately kneels next to the four other young people gathered. The dragon glares at him and asked "Why are you here" to which he replies "I don't know." Which makes the dragon laugh, shift down to a small human woman in a robe, and tells him that he will learn. And guess what? That's all the 'fiction' that this chapter has. The text is written in character but there's no stage direction, no quotation marks, and no interjections by other characters.
There's a sidebar on this page that mentions that since the courts encompass many countries and many species, they often use Mindspeak or Waking Dream of Unity to talk between each other. Thus allowing them to "Maintain a universal language of ideas and beliefs that goes beyond the limitations of species boundaries". Of course the next paragraph then says that while they are capable of communicating with the Sunset People, they rarely do. Since they just can't understand the way the east works, and might do something stupid like attack a Kuei-jin deligate and ruin decades of diplomacy. It's so much simpler to just tell them that their wars are not welcome in the East and shoo them away, courteously of course.
History of the Ages
They start off describing the great cycle/wheel of ages. The idea that everything is constantly changing and in motion, and that the Hengeyokai are uniquely equipped to understand that, as they are half man and beast, half spirit and flesh, and able to change their own form and substance likewise. They are creatures of balance and must understand their place in things and work to ensure that the wheel keeps turning. Gaia told the first Hengeyokai that the Great Wheel of Ages had 12 spokes, and therefore 12 ages need to pass before it completes it's turning, and while the Beast Courts can understand them, they can't predict them. "We can never predict when an age will pass - we can only recognize when one age has moved into the next."
Age of the Dawning
This is the age of perfection, more or less. Matter and spirit, mind and body, everything was one. All things existed as one within Gaia, ageless and without time. It was a heaven without a hell, perfection.
And then Gaia made the triat, whoops.
Age of the Ten Thousand Things
So now spirit and flesh are separate, the oceans are formed, and land masses are forming within the ocean and splitting apart. The weaver is busying itself making things, the Wyld and Wyrm are fighting her in their own ways. "Humans were born to intelligence in the Second Age, and
many argue whether this was a good thing or not."
Ultimately two powerful factions of spirits rose up; the Yama Kings, twisted and obscene beings who coveted everything, not so much an organization as a collection of beings with similar goals; and the Ministers of Heaven, who saw this and decided 'nope'. The August Personage, the greatest Minister of Heaven, chose the strongest among the humans to become the Wan Xian, the Ten Thousand Immortals imbued with the power of Spirit.
The Wyld, never to be outdone, created beings of pure spirit wrapped in the tiniest amounts of flesh known as the Hsien, which if memory serves were the Eastern equivalent of changelings.
Gaia, "the wisest of all", chose the finest among humans and beasts and gathered the power of spirit to bind them together. Then she took her new children to show to the Sun and the Moon, and the moon blessed her left hand and the sun blessed her right, and thus the shapeshifters were born. "Truly our loyal souls were the sign that the new age was nigh."
Age of Legends
The Wan Xian and the Shapeshifters basically went around being badasses for a while, kicking the ass of the Yama kings and shoving them back down into hell. The Zhong Lung(were-dragons) were also rather numerous in this age, and decided "Hey, there's tons of us, but not many werewolves and weretigers, maybe we should go help them fight the Yama Kings in hell."
And almost all of them died, whoops.
This is considered the last "age of the sun" as after this all the ages take a negative tone.
Age of Testing
So the Wan Xian turned out not to be such great guys after all. And rather than do their job, which was keep humans in their towns and keep them from over-breeding, they saw the Hengenyokai caerns and decided that they wanted some of that. So they worked amongst themselves to convince the various Caerns that the other caerns were wyrm-tainted, and while the Beast Courts warred amongst themselves they moved in and drained the Caerns dry. Gaia saw that they were doing this and released a "great cry" which ripped the life out of them, and transformed the Wan Xian into the Kuei-jin. Surprise.
After that the Beast Courts rallied together and slaughtered the Kuei-Jin in their homes, which just so happened to be the human cities, oops. That's why humans still fear the Hengeyokai when they assume their war form.
The Okuma (Asian Were-Bears) at this time decided that everyone else was off their rocker, and fled into the mountains, which the rest of the Beast Courts took to mean that they were Wyrm-Tainted as well.
There aren't any more Asian Were-Bears.
Age of Shadows
This age started when the Westerners came, of course, and it's the Current age.
Age of Sorrow
This is the next age, and it's going to be a bad one, however the wheel will turn out of it eventually.
That is unless the Wyrm can gnaw through the Axle of the Wheel of Ages and stops it in the sixth age. That's what the Hengeyokai are put in place to prevent, to allow the wheel to again turn into the Sun.
Lands of the Courts
This is just a rough geopolitical description of the various regions/countries in Asia. There are a few things to note.
China is basically as close to Hengeyokai paradise as they can get.
Nagasaki and Hiroshima are not nice places to be if you're in the Umbra.
Southeast Asia is a hellhole, and occasionally Sunset People who 'want to help' get sent to Bangkok to either learn that they aren't wanted or die horribly. Great.
Indonesia and the Philippines are the domain of the Were-Dragons and Were-Sharks and they keep their areas cleaner than most.
Shen: The Limitless Forms of Divinity
This is the 'opinions of other factions' portion of the chapter.
The Beast Courts have a love-hate relationship with the Kuei-Jin. Most of them deserve to be wiped out, but some of them strive to regain their lost divinity and those can be trusted... somewhat. They were still kind of massive internecine assholes at one point in time.
Apparently there are various classes of Hsien, some are more human like than others, and when the Hsien need help from the Hengeyokai they send a Badger or a Cat "as is proper." They're hunted by both the Namebreakers and the Kuei-jin, which makes them allies to the Hengeyokai.
However, they hold their own beast-brethren to be of lower caste than the more "human" numbers, and this tastes poorly to our tongues. If they understood the nobility in the animal, we would be friends; as such, we give them aid when they ask, but only if they ask properly.
"We'd totally be friends if they'd just understand how fucking awesome foxes are!"
These are the sorcerers whose power goes beyond "proper Taoist Alchemy or the knowledge of feng shui", since apparently those give you magic powers? Anyways, these guys get a short story, and it's kind of hilarious.
Monsieur, Gaston, isn't he dreamy.
It was one man who stole the secret of Naming during the Second Age. None remember his name, but this cavalier was proud as the Sun itself, and with good reason. He was as handsome as the dawn, as fierce as the desert wind, and as fearless as a mountaintop. So dashing was he that the chambermaids who kept Gaia's palace in order would often pause in their duties to look down from Heaven and watch him, leaning on their brooms and sighing wistfully.
Eventually, he drew the attention of a goddess, a Minister of Rivers and Streams. She was beautiful beyond all words, so when she descended to call on him, he offered no resistance. She carried him up to her bed in Heaven, where they dallied for a day. Eventually, she fell asleep smiling, and he pretended to do the same.
But he was consumed with curiosity, and he left her sleeping on the bed to go walk the halls of Heaven and wonder at what he found there. Soon he found himself in a library, and he resolved to read the poetry of Heaven for himself - for what woman could resist such divinely sweet words? But the books he chose were the books of all Names, and the cavalier learned much more than he should have that night.
That face looks more 'wow, the gods are into some freaky shit' than 'so
what trees are called'.
The cavalier was returned to Earth the next day, his mind boiling with his new insight. Impatient to test this knowledge, he walked up to a boulder and spoke its Name - but he pronounced the Name differently, and it flew into bits. Delighted with his new power, he danced away and began to play with it.
Of course, eventually the Weaver noticed that this cavalier was disrupting the precious order of all things. Immediately she ran to the Emerald Mother, and told Her that a human had stolen the power of Naming and must be punished. Gaia stopped and listened, and then She felt a tug at Her being; at this time, you see, the cavalier had called the lightning to dance for his amusement. The Emerald Mother shuddered at this tug at the weave of Her skirt, and spat a curse which fell on the cavalier, boiling him inside his skin. But the Weaver had been too late; already the secret of Naming had been passed on to other humans - a courtesan, for one, for the cavalier talked in his sleep. To this day, the namebreakers are punished by sendings of the Weaver and the Emerald Mother, and such is only just.
Was he sleep-talking and the entire time various objects in the room were exploding around him/turning into cats? That sounds kind of hilarious.
Anyways, the Hengeyokai hate the mages, and find their "True Magick" offensive. "If only the humans had been content to work the sorceries and rituals that had been given them.."
But of course they weren't since the rules for sorcery kind of suck
Ghosts. People who die without paying their karmic debts. Avoid if possible.
The Sunset People
Again, they call the westerners ignorant children because they do not understand how the Beast Courts work. Of course they won't TELL them how they work, since it is not their place to educate ignorant children. Some think that the Garou have fallen as the Kuei-Jin have fallen, but since the spirits still talk to the Garou that's probably not the case. There's also talk about the Stargazers, Boli Zousizhe(Glass Walkers), and Wangtong(Bone Gnawers), which are factions of the Sunset People who have seen fit to join the Beast Courts.
I'm not sure what Wangtong means, as all I'm finding is a proper name. But Boli Zousizhe...
The Beast Courts
Never change, White Wolf.
This is just "glass walker" run through babel fish and it's hilarious wrong. "Boli" means "glass", and "zousizhe" is "one who walks" (understandable but not how anyone would say it, since it's using an overly specific form of "walk" and an archaic relative clause rather than a normal compound) : but compounds in Chinese have the opposite word order, so it should really be something like "xing boli shang de ren", "goes-glass-on-person".
That is amazingly lazy translation and anyone with a semester of Chinese could see it.
You made my day with that.
This section is written out of character, and starts out with a note that not all eastern shapeshifters are members of the Beast Courts. Kumo are all wyrm tainted, Boli Zousizhe are cordial but not official members, and many Khan prefer their own ways to that of the Courts. The most important distinction is that members of the court have their own rules for Renown and Auspice. Not every member of the beast court follows these rules but if they want to hold a court position or join a Mountain Sentai they pretty much have to. The other major distinction is that they have their own Mandates, which are a pan-tribal set of rules that are supposed to supersede individual racial Litanies.
This repeats a bunch of information from the previous paragraph, but does state that each Court is dedicated to a Caern the same way a Sept would be. And that each Court tends to have four positions in common.
The highest ranking caern elder; the ultimate authority figure. The keeper of the laws and the passer of judgements.
The Warmaster, equivalent to a Garou Caern Warder. They are supposed to ensure that everyone at the Caern is prepared for war should the need arise. Their influence with the court varies, but more often than not if a General calls for aid, people listen. "Peacetime is a pretty poem, but the world is illiterate."
The ritemaster. Some of them gett too proud of their power and get corrupted or reach beyond their skill. So each Seer has at least one potential successor in training.
They're a Historian. More often than not they're either a Zhong Lung(Due to their own racial abilities) or Metis(since they can be trained from birth rather than starting at 16).
There are two types of Sentai, wave sentai are formed for a purpose and then disbanded once that purpose is fulfilled, Mountain sentai are rarer and more permanent.
Minions. They do all the grunt work to make sure the spirit trains run on Gaia Time.
I'm not sure what this has to do with the mandates, but it's nice art.
According to the Zhong Lung, these are the rules that were handed down by Gaia Herself, so they're big deals. The First and the Last Mandates are the most important, and while the others can be flaunted at your own risk. Those two will probably get you "protracted and brutal retribution."
Each mandate also has a "Reality" section which indicates how things are usually implemented.
Shirk Not The Tasks Which Have Been Given You
Do what Gaia made you for. If you're a Garou, you best be fighting. If you're a Tengu, best be scouting. Everyone was given a task by Gaia and who are you to say differently.
Some Garou are born frail, some Zhong Lung are dumb as hell and more suited to bashing in heads. As long as you're serving your purpose even obliquely, people will usually let this slide. It's mostly meant to prevent people from just lazing around.
Guard the Wheel That It May Turn in Fullness
Pretty self explanatory with all the rest I have written today.
Some Hengeyokai think that it would be better to rewind the wheel back to the First Age, but they're considered borderline insane. Everyone else follows this law to the letter.
Random Rat Scribe I guess
Presume Not to Instruct Your Cousin In His Task
Don't ignore your own job to criticize the guy next to you. This doesn't mean you can't tell a General he's walking into a trap. It does mean the General can't tell his sorcerer that he's summoning spirits the wrong way.
The residents of the Beast Courts squabble as much as the rest of the world, and gossip is everywhere.
Honor Your Territory in All Things
This one gets re-interpreted a bunch of ways but tends to mean "Honor the spirits, keep your grounds clean, and keep the caern running." Some also include treatment of humans and kinfolk under this rule.
Everyone has their own ideas of how best to 'honor' things, and sometimes the fights get bloody.
Let Mercy Guide You in Our August Mother's Court
Don't go killing each other just because you have Rage. There are enough people trying to kill you.
This rule doesn't include Westerners.
Honor Your Ancestors and Your Elders
Not much to say with this one.
This one is followed more or less to the letter, other than a few younger shapeshifters with more western ideals who don't follow the rules. But a few smacks to the head usually put them in line.
Honor the Pacts with the Spirit World
Follow rituals and keep to your word.
Young homids who aren't as steeped in tradition tend to break this rule up until the point they realize that spirits won't talk to people who don't play nice.
War Not Upon Human Nor Beast
This is basically 'uphold the veil'. In olden times it meant "don't kill your breeding stock you idiot". It doesn't forbid violence against humanity, just an open conflict.
The Hakken upheld this mandate so strongly that they have lost touch with their wolf natures. To the point that there are hardly any Lupus Hakken left.
Let No One or Nothing Violate the Sacred Places
Violate this one and they will turn your bones into silver and throw you into a lake of lava.
Next Time: Asia is so special it has it's own spirit world
Original SA post
Chapter Two: The Tapestry
I'm reminded of some of the art from Magic's Kamigawa block, which makes sense, but is that guy supposed to be wearing a mask or is the artist just bad at drawing faces?
Yes, an entire chapter devoted entirely to the eastern spirit world, because it's completely different than the western spirit world. Even though Australia, Africa, South America, Europe, Russia, and North America all share one spirit world, the Hengeyokai get one all to themselves.
fuck you gaijin that's why
The spirit world yet lives in Asia in the beliefs and memories of the peasants and common people. Many still trust simple rituals and ancient charms more than science or technology.
Because the peasantry of Asia don't trust technology.
You know, Asia. With Japan and Hong Kong.
This is supposed to be a positive trait.
The wall is the name the Hengeyokai use for their version of the Gauntlet. They state that there might be a few physical gateways into the umbra, perhaps in natural glens, or in the back of strange mystical shops, and that the western rules for the gauntlet do apply, but there might be some areas where the gauntlet is weaker due to all the people who just don't believe in that stupid old science.
The Mirror Lands
Mirror lands are what they call the Penumbra, which has "Frightening, confusing places, warping the physical world in most exotic ways", but the Hengeyokai have it figured out because they're 'wise'. Westerners, of course, are confused by the foreign symbology that is made real in the Mirror Lands. Also, people who are skilled in meditation or feng shui are able to feel the vibrations of the spirit world and sense disturbances in the Umbra.
The spirits of the Mirror Lands are stronger and 'more active' than their western counterparts, and the Hengeyokai need to take care in their dealings with spirits.
Although the awakened spirit of an antique family stool may seem irrelevant or harmless, it may well be a servant of the Dragon Prince of Wood, who would be quite offended if hengeyokai were to harm his proxy.
"Oh what's that? You didn't pay due deference to the toilet you just took a dump in? Well the prince of sewage is calling in some of his chips with luna and now every spirit in the umbra hates you."
The spirit realm is lit by both the moon, but also by ten suns. The largest of which is believed to be the "true sun", and the other 9 are "siblings, stillborn in the physical realm but not forgotten here." They also note that there's a swirling mist wall between the Russian Penumbra and the Mirror lands, and travel between China and Russia isn't possible. They don't mention it but it's also not possible between Russia and
, at this point in time, Baba Yaga is a bitch.
If the Mirror Lands are the penumbra, the Tapestry is the near umbra. The Hengeyokai divide the mirror lands into the Yang and Yin realms, Yang described as full of "Life and Energy", Yin described as "Death and Darkness, domains of ghosts and demons". Yeah, people at White Wolf really didn't understand what Yin and Yang were, and reading Kindred of the East tends to give people who do some rather nasty headaches.
To get to the Tapestry, you can either follow moon paths or dragon tracks. But most of the tapestry is full of fog and mist which causes sounds to echo and scents to betray you. So to find your way out, find a Stork-Spirit.
So the rat finds a stork, the werewolf who just had an unfortunate encounter with a picador has apparently kidnapped a woman in her pajamas, and the Khan is giving some presumable wyrmspawn a knuckle sandwich.
No seriously, a stork spirit. They have their own call out and a picture and everything. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, but the only myth I can find online (due to western baby delivery myths) involves Chinese storks abducting worthy men and carrying them to heaven. Which I guess sort of fits? Just seems odd that they'd single stork spirits out as some kind of spiritual navigators par excelance.
For those who don't want avian assistance, you can follow the dragon paths, which are "Well marked and appear to the discerning eye as roads inlaid with gold, jade, finely carved hardwoods, or other precious substances." with the type of inlay describing which dragon made the path, pearl means sea dragon, woods mean forest dragon, which means that these are the paths that literal dragons left behind, but not the zhong lung, different dragons, maybe.
There are also Sun and Moon paths, Hakken use the moon paths and Zhong Lung use the sun paths, the other Hengeyokai don't trust them as they change when the moon and sun rise and set, but the dragon paths are as eternal as the dragons who once created them, so different dragons then, definitely. Also the dragon paths not only lead to the yin and yang realms, but also to the western spirit realms, because fuck you gaijin, that's why.
Apparently some of the Ministers of Heaven and Yama Kings still have their own courts which they rule like old feudal lords. Even some uncorrupted and honorable wyrm spirits hold court in this way. Most have palaces with great towers. All visitors must enter through a main gate, which is always guarded by powerful spirits. And most have water diverted from the great river of life and abundance flowing through their courtyard because nothing says opulance like diverting the forces of life itself just so you can water your plants.
Young hengeyokai should be warned: The nobles of the courts are tied to each other in many ways. If a hengeyokai should offend a lord in a spirit court, he may find himself facing the enmity of many Ministers. Proper behavior is exceedingly important to many of the spirits. At all times, a hengeyokai should be careful with what he says and how he acts in the courts of the spirits. By the same token, if a hengeyokai shows wisdom in her words and actions, she may earn the aid of not only the court she visits, but many others throughout the Umbra. It is worth noting that too favorable of an impression may lead to a prince offering to wed a hengeyokai, an offer that is not easy to escape without risking offense. Caution should be the wise one's guide.
Do poorly and you piss off the entire spirit world. Do too well and now you're married.
"The Yang realms are places of light and power where many spirits allied to Gaia gather or hold sway. hengeyokai say that there are thousands of Yang realms, and that as shen become more enlightened they can perceive more realms." Apparently each Yang Realm has their own leaders, which are as powerful as Incarna, but in their own realms they might be stronger than Celestines. And, since we're unenlightened, here are the "most often perceived" Yang Realms.
The Realm of Fighting Spirits
The place where unhallowed dead go to do battle. Tribesmen with sticks beat on tanks, Kamikazes drive into hordes of mongol cavalry, spirits tear each other apart and then pick up their missing pieces then move onto the next fight.
There are 3 main armies, an army marching under the banner of spider, an army marching under the banner of centipede, and... uhm...
An obstreperous throng of shapeshifters and eddies of energy form a loose third host. Though responsible for most of the turmoil and chaos, they do not fight under a banner and are as likely to attack each other as they are the other forces. These berserkers have limited technology, relying on rocks, spears, nails and teeth to overcome the enemy. Fighting animals serve in their ranks.
Umi, the Dragon Kingdom of the Sea
Apparently this kingdom covers the entire pacific ocean of the Mirror Lands, even though it's been established that the Tapestry is distinctly separate from the Mirror Lands. Hordes of Zhong Lung and Same-Bito serve him, some so old and ancient that they only exist as powerful spirits.
The most powerful servant, however, is
It looks like Godzilla, but due to International Copyright Laws, it's not. Still, we should run like it
Godzilla, though it isn't.
The Dragon King's senschal Gajyra commands the denizens of the Dragon Kingdom. He is one of the few great dragons still awake; his power extends over the waters surrounding him and boils from his mouth in the form of fire that devours even metal and stone. Many whisper that nuclear tests in the Pacific have angered Gajyra beyond reason; other claim that Banes have seduced the Seneschal, leading him down a path of corruption.
But, oh no! It's been 50 years since the Dragon King has been seen in public. Apparently the Dragon Princess of Hiroshima was his lover, and he grieves over her loss. Or even worse, he was WITH her on August 6th! Or Gajyra killed him and his merciless nature is a testament to his guilt!!!
Also there are crabs
No, it's too obvious
The Mountains of Heaven
Flying spirits and Dragons live here. It's also apparently very close to the Moon, and you can use some of the pagodas and palaces here to travel almost anywhere in any umbra.
But oh no, some malady has afflicted the great dragon lords, what has happened?
Some of these spirit courtiers believe that a malady has afflicted the Dragon Lords and Princes of the Firmament, and whisper that
Western thought seeping into the Realm has blinded or paralyzed the great dragons.
Fuck you Gaijin.
The Tiger Lands
Umm... There are tiger spirits here. Lots of them. There are other animal spirits too, apparently, but the Tiger spirits got here first and painted their names above the door.
The Gardens of the First Age
This realm is very hard to find, but if you find it it's essentially shapeshifter heaven. It's a memory of when the physical and spirit were one. If you meditate here Gaia may visit you personally and give you advice... or weapons?
The Goblin Jungle
Most shen avoid this area because it exists on the border of the Yang and Yomi worlds.
It is dark, you are likely to be eaten by a Nue.
Take every horror story you've ever heard about tropical jungles, and crank them up to 11, then put goblins and other nasty creatures in them.
Temple of the Ancestors
This appears to be an amalgamation of every ancestor homeland ever. To find it all you have to do is want to find your ancestors really
hard, along the way you'll stumble upon many "Tests of the Ancestors" to ensure that your heart, mind and body are pure, usually in relation to the Hengeyokai's auspice. Finally you arrive at someplace sacred to your family, then a guide shows up and takes you to a single meditating figure that is one of your ancestors. They talk with you a while, give you advice or counsel and
a gift. Then the guide returns, says time's up, and umbral winds carry the hengeyokai back to the Mirror Lands.
That just sounds like the worlds worst retirement home.
These are realms of death and stillness, and since the Hengeyokai are creatures "distilled of purest life" are uncomfortable here.
No, white wolf, stop it.
Lemme just quote Wikipedia here.
Yin is characterized as slow, soft, yielding, diffuse, cold, wet, and passive; and is associated with water, earth, the moon, femininity and nighttime.
Yang, by contrast, is fast, hard, solid, focused, hot, dry, and aggressive; and is associated with fire, sky, the sun, masculinity and daytime.
Note that Yang has negative aspects and Yin has positive aspects, neither one is wholly good or bad. They even get a lot of the symbology wrong. The ocean is in the Yang realm, and the Yin Realm has a desert.
The Cave of Centipedes
A dark cool place filled with Centipedes, worms, and the spirits of the dead. Kumo are also in here, and there are Yama Kings. If you venture deep enough you find the spirits of the recent dead, and if the Wyrm spirits kill them before they recieve their true judgement they are banished to the Wyrm's balefire torture pits for eternity.
Also don't light a lantern or you'll attract everyone in 30 mile radius.
Lord Spider's Web
Uhh, it's a giant spider web, but not metal like the Weaver's webs, these are like cobwebs. There are no native denizens in this realm, only dessicated victims. Apparently Lord Spider was once the lover of the Weaver and has left his realm in mourning since she won't sleep with him anymore.
Desert of Visions
Apparently this is the only place in the yin realms worth visiting for most Hengeyokai, because here they can recieve visions and guidance. The light of the moon is bright over the desert, but this isn't the nice moon. This is the harsh moon of castigation and the mere sight of her can push lesser minds into Harano. It's a place of solitude, and you will never meet another soul here. If you come here in a group you will be separated before you arrive. The very sands are made of silver, gold, fire, whatever will cause you the most pain. Time flows faster or slower, whatever causes you the most discomfort. You can never slay the spirits that taunt you, and all that does is prolong your suffering. Eventually once you've come to terms with yourself and the desert, you'll crest a dune and find an oasis. The waters restore all your gnosis and willpower and there's a dragon road to anywhere you want to go.
Apparently that's why people come here, the Dragon Roads let you go anywhere.
The Forbidden Lands
This is very close to a Yomi realm, but it isn't. Apparently it contains echos of all possible horrific apocalyptic futures. The Yama Kings and greater banes come here to gloat. But there are a few flowers here and...
The sunsets are made more colorful by the
polluted skies and multicolored clouds.
Apparently each spirit of each individual creature has it's own spirit realm. The stronger your spirit the greater your spirit realm. There's no guarantee you'll ever find your own personal ream, and there's no guarantee that it even exists.
Inside your Personal Realm are all your hopes, dreams, desires and fears. By overcoming the challenges therein you can conquer your own spirit, which... give you extra gnosis?
Caerns in the east are more potent than the west because they're maintained by kin as well as Hengeyokai, and they're older. But war between the Shen has drained most of them.
Probably the biggest difference is each Caern has it's own domain in the mirror lands, which is the court of the caern's spirit.
Unfortunately the constant war for their favor has driven some Caern Spirits insane, demanding blood sacrifice or asking for impossible things like the heads of all of the Yama Kings. Sometimes they attack the members of their septs for displeasing them.
And with that we're done with this chapter.
Up Next: Character Creation, and how you can't actually do it without two to three other books.
Lords of the Beast Courts
Original SA post
Chapter 3 Part 1: Lords of the Beast Courts
This chapter opens up with a fictional Nagah maxim.
What would we do with all things of the human world?
You carry all creation within your body.
In all things, three - Mothers, Thunders, Worlds, Fires.
Choice is undesirable and unhealthy. Select nothing, and receive all.
This makes no sense at all, it sounds like they're just spouting nonsense in an attempt to sound profound.
The first bit they talk about is what the various shen have in common. All shapeshifters save the Kitsune cause the Delirium in Crinos form. Tengu and Khan in Crinos affect victims as if they had 2 more willpower. And Khan in their saber-tooth-tiger form cause Delirium at full strength, since apparently that's the form they killed humans in. Kumo also invoke delirium in their 'spider the size of a Buick' form. And silver affects all shapeshifters except for the ones they don't, they'll get called out in the individual entries.
Unlike the sunset people, there is almost always at least two breeds in a Sentai. The traditional number for a Sentai is five. "There are five cardinal directions, five faces of the moon, and five elements. Each of these must be represented in the sentai or the spirits may find the war party inauspicious and unworthy of aid.
Mountain Sentai are more or less permanent, like Garou Packs, they are devoted to the Ways of Emerald Virtue entirely and act with unswerving unity.
Wave sentai, on the other hand, are created for a purpose, and can apparently include hsien, western shapechangers, or even trusted namebreakers. They don't have any special social privileges but "their advantages of convenience is unmistakable" which means absolutely nothing since there is no mechanical effects of being in a wave sentai.
Here there's a sidebar about
since this chapter is full of references of "inauspicious" or "unlucky" practices. Apparently the spirits in the Eastern Kingdoms are VERY picky about this sort of stuff, and if players don't adhere to the "mystical feel of Hengeyokai games", the storyteller is encouraged to punish them. Lose renown, be shunned by their peers, have spirits ignore them, it shouldn't be too stringent but "traditions are there for a purpose."
Here we have another proverb.
The house shall have
and a pillar
to hold them upright
and keep them apart
"The root word of Auspicious is auspice." so obviously the Hengeyokai put LOTS of import on their auspices. And auspices only exist inside Sentai.
Mountain Sentai need to have 5 members, each one needs to be a different auspice, and it's "Lucky" to have each member be a different changing breed. Without that the spirits consider it 'half-formed'. The main advantage of Mountain Sentai is that they can take pack actions and get a Totem. Occasionally if there are extra Hengeyokai around, they'll attach them to the Mountain Sentai as hangers on, but they get no benefits and no effect from the totem. But usually if there are more or less than Five they'll make a wave sentai instead.
Wave sentai don't need to have a member of each auspice, "
but ignoring this tradition is considered unlucky
" and spirits frown on inauspicious behavior in the middle kingdoms. But sometimes all you have is 3 Tengu, and occasionally such 'low sentai' can prove themselves worthy of respect by overcoming this handicap.
The heart of the war party, the leader of the sentai. Almost literally the Philodox.
Warrior and Soldier.
Literally the Ahroun.
The one who talks to spirits, bend strangers into allies, and pronounces sorceries. The Theurge.
The stealthy auspice. Oh lo and behold it's a Ragabash
The jack of all
fuck it it's the Galliard.
Yeah, it's the werewolf auspices just with different names. Real mysterious, Hengeyokai.
There's another sidebar here going over the elements that might be assigned to members of the Sentai when they're formed. Europeans believe in Air, earth, fire, and water. Asians believe in earth, water, fire, wood, and metal. Hengeyokai, of course, know the correct answer, Wind, Water, Fire, Earth and
Moon... wait moon?
As the maxim goes; Wind is the breath of the world, earth the bones, water the blood, fire the heat that beats in the heart and moon the cool spirit of the land.
There's a list of what the different elements mean but they're more flowery prose.
So should players change perfectly good character concepts in order to make the perfect sentai? No, they shouldn't. Think of it as an exercise in creativity - look at the hengeyokai involved as the elders would, and see which would be best suited for which element. The results can enrich the sentai's personality tremendously.
It's possible to switch auspices, usually when a sentai dissolves and another needs to be formed, and to do this you need to perform the Rite of the Second Face. Yet earlier they said that auspices were assigned only to Mountain Sentai and they were chosen for that sentai, wouldn't they go away when the sentai went away? Also: changing auspice more than once is
Changing from the Path of Great Virtue to service to their own tribes, or vice versa, is done by the Rite of the Great Burden, which is the Rite of Renunciation with the numbers filed off. Undergoing this rite means you can never learn the Gifts of your abandoned road again.
Garou of the Thirteen tribes
join the WoEV but it requires them to forsake their previous tribes and many of the Sunset People see this as a betrayal since they might give away their secrets.
Gifts and Rites
There are common Hengeyokai gifts, and those that have a WoEV Auspice can learn gifts of the associated Garou auspice at the cost of common gifts, if the breed is cheaper due to your breed (I.E. you're a Garou or Zhong Lung with the appropriate auspice) you get it for the cheaper cost.
Renown is a 3 part system like it is for every other W:TA Line, with Glory, Virtue, and Wisdom. 'Virtue' is honor, they even flat out state that it is. Storytellers are encouraged to be generous with an extra few points of renown if they've performed a great deed. That seems nice doesn't it?
There is a down side to this generosity, however. Losing Renown is a grave affair among hengeyokai; they consider trespasses of such nature highly barbaric behavior. Of course, their definition of barbarism doesn't match the human ideal - to the hengeyokai, a barbarian among shapeshifters is one that is out of balance, relying overmuch on his human or animal nature while ignoring his duties as a shapeshifter. In the eyes of the courts, a Hakken computer hacker who cultivates contacts among high society may well be seen as less advanced as a Same-Bito hermit who suns human and shark society in order to learn the ways of the spirit world. Consequently, Renown losses are often more significant among hengeyokai,
sometimes even double the penalty a Westerner might suffer
- the hengeyokai loses Renown for her offense, and further Renown for
the embarrassment of losing Renown at all!
The Storyteller should feel free to award hefty penalties to the hengeyokai characters who behave poorly; after all, the downside to such an elevated society is a similarly elevated standard of conduct.
Why are we supposed to want to play this game again?
There are five normal ranks, Stone is 'rank 0' and is Gray. In ascending order from there is Wood(brown), Iron(red), Steel(blue), Gold(Yellow), and Silver(white). Silver is on top because it is the moooon. There's also the ultra heroic "jade" rank 6, and their color is green. Members of certain rank tend to wear badges of rank of that color, like an armband embroidered with the symbol of their Court, or jewelery.
It's mentioned that most people won't make too much of an issue of a Rank 1 person wearing silver or gold jewelery, but if they wear a white badge of honor the spirits will spread the word (
) and soon their rites and gifts won't work.
Now we get into the breeds. They follow a pretty standard format
A short story.
Description of the breed.
Any specific organizational notes.
Traits unique to that breed.
Stereotypes and a Quote.
There’s also another sidebar.
Damned if We Do, Damned if We Don’t
Hengeyokai: Shapeshifters of the east
is designed to be used as a storyteller sourcebook,, preferably with a minimum of page-flipping between it and the
Werewolf Players Guide.
To that purpose, we’ve repeated some of the basic material on shapechangers in the
for convenience’s sake: most notably, the form Traits and a few Gifts and rites that are quintessentially Eastern. However, in interest of giving priority to those differences that make the hengeyokai the recognizable-but-not-familiar creatures that they are, we haven’t repeated everything.
Most notably omitted are the Homid/metis/’lupus’ gifts for the various hengeyokai, Rage/Gnosis/Willpower are there but they're buried in paragraphs of text, and the Nezumi don't have willpower given at all.
They also reference the fact that if necessary you can use the various Breed Books that are available and focus more intensely on a single breed, except at the time this book was printed, the only Breedbooks that were out were Bastet(Khan), Nuwisha(Sir not appearing in this game), and Corax(Tengu). Most of the write-ups in the Players Guide basically go “Uhh, give them whatever feels appropriate or whatever, we don’t know.” So if you bought this game right out the bat and wanted to play a Nezumi and have full gift and rule support? You’re waiting a year. Same-Bito or Nagah? You’re waiting three.
Ultimately, this book is meant to give quick and easy guidelines for running games set in the East, or incorporating hengeyokai into ongoing chronicles. It’s our hope that this compromise between completism and originality will allow you to run games without too much cross-referencing, while not charging you five extra bucks for wagonloads of rules that you already own.
Except it doesn’t do a good job of that, the MSRP of the book was $20, and you’re going to need to cross reference three books at the low end, increasing to as many as eight if you’ve got an entire group of non-garou.
Thankfully they fixed this in Revised, but until then you’re kind of screwed.
I kind of like this art but holy shit is it anime
Story:Laughing Daughter of Night
Two Hakken kinfolk, Lord and Lady Taira, had two sons who were not garou, and one daughter who was, but she was a ragabash and laughed at everything. Even when her brothers taught her in the ways of bushido she laughed as she kicked their asses. Her parents thought they were going to be screwed the minute she got called into service because she'd laugh at reverence itself.
But she was, and she didn't, and the Hakken Lord sent her to take a lotus blossom to the Yotomi clan, and the Lord told her not to forget her laughter. Her parents were a bit dismayed because the Yotomi had fallen to the Wyrm, and knew that she had been given a suicide mission. But they weren't worried that she'd die, but that she'd die dishonorably.
Regardless, she went to the Yotomi shrine, and kicked all sorts of ass, laughing the entire time at how far the Yotomi had fallen from the true path of Bushido. The spirits who heard her had never heard such perfect laughter. When she died they carried her away, also the Lotus blossom was a big fuck-off firebomb.
The Daimyo told her parents about her noble death and her parents were ashamed that they thought so poorly of her.
"Let this be a lesson to you, then. For the path of warrior(sic) is to strive for quality in all things, not just those which bring us the greatest glory and honor in battle. This is truly the way of the Hakken"
If it wasn't obvious from the story, they're Werewolf Samurai, what isn't obvious from the story is that they're
, a tribe who's name is synonymous with "backstab". And while the Hakken have their own political leanings and backstabs, they look with contempt upon their Western cousins. Why?
It's that most Shadow Lords lack any real finesse, polish or code of conduct for the whole process that's unappealing to their Japanese cousins.
If you're going to be a bastard at least take some pride in your work!
Unfortunately, the Hakken act too much like Samurai and not much like wolves, to the point that they're even more unbalanced than the Glass Walkers. This goes hand in hand with the fact that the real life Hokkaido wolf and Shinshu wolf are extinct. In the World of Darkness, any living wolves are probably confined to the extreme northern islands.
One solution is to import new Lupus blood from other tribes. Some are attracted to Japan's beauty and mystery, others are repulsed by the human behavior of the Hakken. But the Hakken don't
those other wolves. "Other tribes are
, foreign, inferior. What do they know of the highest demands of honor, family, and duty?"
The Hakken have their own code of Bushido that they follow.
Benevolence and unselfishness - each Hakken carries a Dai-sho (Katana and Wakasashi) as a symbol of their authority and rank. Among the Hakken, using a sword is considered a sign of mercy because they're less lethal to other Hengeyokai than their teeth and claws. The Dai-sho are meant to remind the Hakken to show mercy and only use as much power as is necessary, so the Hakken never bind spirits into their Dai-sho.
Straightforwardness-This rule actually means to
to be straightforward, the truth might be different. Many Hakken are adept at the ancient samurai art of the ice burn, insulting someone but them not noticing it because the Hakken was appearing to be straightforward. Is represented by a many faceted jewel.
Wisdom-The mirror is the symbol of wisdom, because it allows for reflection and knowledge of the self.
Wait, sword, jewel, mirror?
That reminds me of something, but I can't place my finger on it.
Regardless the first 3 are believed to be the most important virtues, "The Divine Virtues".
Loyalty (chushin)-Allegiance to your sworn Daimyo is paramount. Though Hakken are less likely to commit suicide since A: it's a bit more difficult and B: they're a dying race and can't really afford it.
Maintain Quality in All Things- Vengeance, art, war or love, practice it to the highest level of distinction.
Eternal obedience-Since the Daimyo is chosen by Gaia he can never be wrong, so obey him in all things. If you cannot meet his orders then you should probably go ronin, not to avoid loss of personal honor, that's expected, but
so your daimyo doesn't look bad by picking someone who can't do the job, since that would mean he's no longer a just and strong leader
, aren't catch-22's great?
Acceptance of punishment for failure- If you fuck up, take it. If you're dealing punishment, be just and wise in doing so.
Acceptance of a just fate for injustice done to others-Karma. Know that if you do something evil, even if it's because your Daimyo told you to, you're going to get some recompense
Rather than camps or packs, Hakken tend to group themselves by their family lines, with a Daimyo at the head. Lupus think they're crazy and gather in packs, and are more inclined to go join the beast courts and their sentai.
Instead of massive clan wars, Hakken settle most disputes in ritual single combat. Sometimes this takes the form of art or lore competitions. They also still delight in political machinations that take years to culminate, but have adapted to the electronic age. Hakken aren't above using computer viruses or phishing schemes to reach their ends.
Most hakken live in Japan, a few have migrated to the west coast of the US where they compete with stargazers and glass walkers.
In the beast courts the Hakken are usually soldiers or Generals. They're happiest serving with Kitsune and Tengu who have long histories in japan, they're uncomfortable around other shapeshifters, but if they're ordered to they swallow their pride. The Zhong Lung are considering this a long-game to force the hakken to deal with the other breeds to get back in touch with their wolf side, somehow?
The rare gorillawolf-samurai?
Hakken tend to marry for political reasons, though love and passion aren't unheard of since 'excellence in all things' applies to your emotions as well. They don't marry outside the Hakken bloodlines though, since those are
. Most Hakken don't bother with rank titles, just calling themselves Samurai rather than western
terms. (I'm not inserting these, nor am I italicizing them, the book is doing both for me)
The Hakken honor their tribal totem Naru-Kami, which is the proper term for the totem the
call Grandfather Thunder.
Lesse, they can fold cranes for good luck. Cause themselves to look impeccably groomed before social gatherings. Attack with their katana so fast that it launches a shockwave that cuts someone as far away as 50 yards. And.. uhh.. make a very very big hurricane, which isn't the problem. The fact that the gift is called
"Perhaps you speak with wisdom; perhaps our fangs have dulled with the years, and our talons grown feeble from clutching human weapons. Would you do me the honor of proving the truth of your words? Please, I await your attack."
They dislike Khan for thinking themselves noble (no one is as noble as my Daimyo). Kitsune and Tengu are awesome.
- So they have their own codes of honor? How well do they measure up against our traditions? None too well, I imagine, since they probably imitated us in the first place.
Punishing players for not having a perfect party or a group of exactly 5 people? Screaming Honor, Auspiciousness,
, and Valorous at the top of their lungs? Giving the storyteller ideas on how to fuck over the players if they either do too well or not well enough? Backstabbing Samurai that follow the code of Bushido only as far as it allows them to fuck with people?
Thunder Thunder Thunder Thunder Khan!
Story: The King who Forgot
Once upon a time there was a much beloved king. He was a hero to his people and he had slain many Rakshasa in his time. He ate well and hunted the beasts of the forests with a vigor worthy of the tigers themselves.
One day his soldiers caught a tigress that had been killing many of his subjects over the years and he had it brought before his court in chains. The king was happy to see the tigress brought before him as tribute, but he was surprised to see her crying.
"Such a savage beast, do you week for fear of your life? I expected better of a mighty tigress."
"No King, you are the Tigers."
And then the king was a tiger. His son stabbed the tigress through the heart with a spear, and then the king went on a rampage and killed everyone in his court then fled to the jungle and wept for about three years.
Eventually the great tiger general of heaven descended and told him to quit his crying, as heaven would not lift it's curse. Now that a tiger had chosen humanity over tigers, humanity would eventually kill all the tigers. The king asked if there is nothing he could do, and the General imprisoned the king in a gem, if the tigers could find the gem they would be returned to prosperity and saved. If they fell to in-fighting, they're screwed.
Spoilers: They fell to in fighting.
The Khan are the only Were-cats in the beast courts. And they combine the Bastet penchant for secrets with their own natural ability as warriors, sneaking into a location, getting the information, and then killing everyone else who knows it.
At one time there was a great tiger sultanate, where the Eastern and Western Khan met to share lore. But the Sultan was corrupt and killed a bunch of people, so the Khan distrust westerners now. There's maybe a hundred Khan left in the middle kingdoms, so they stay spread out so that a lucky wyrm-attack can't just wipe them out entirely. There's also the fact that their beast kin is dying out rather rapidly.
Traits, Breeds and Forms
Khan have 5 rage but only 2 willpower, and each of their breeds have 1 more gnosis than their Garou counterparts. They can't step sideways without a level 4 gift so most khan seek out mountain sentai so they can piggyback on more capable members. They're ridiculously picky about their breeding stock, and since there are over a billion people in china, that only increases difficulties.
Their forms are analogous to Garou ones, with Homid, Sokto(glabro) Crinos, Chatro(Hispo), and Feline. Their Sokto form is described as "long and supple" and "intimidatingly exotic", because werecat. Their crinos form is weaker than Garou, but their Chatro form is flat out better, other than the fact that you can't wield weaponry but when you're a fucking saber-tooth tiger with +4 str and +2 dex I'm pretty sure you don't care.
They can make their hands invulnerable, so they can attack things with acidic or spiny hides. They can eavesdrop on conversations from 250 yards away. They can attack enemies in the spirit world without stepping sideways themselves. And there's Heaven Thunder Hammer, the Tiger Hadouken, apparently they need special dispensation from the Tiger General spirit to use this gift. and if they use it once, they need to talk to him again (requiring another special audience) to get the ability to use it another time.
"Shoot me. Cut me. Stalk me. Hunt my kind for their flesh and hate me for my claws. I am still Khan, the lord of tigers, and I shall rest my paw on your bloody skull and shake the heavens with my roars."
They hate Hakken, think Kitsune are just waiting to back stab them. They seem to hate pretty much everyone except the Zhong Lung, who they think are awesome because they're dragons.
This chapter is pretty long so I'm going to split it here.
Next up: Spiders, Crows, Rats, Sharks, Snakes, and Dragons
Original SA post
Chapter 3-2 and Chapter 4
A warning to people who have issues with spiders. Kumo are were-spiders, I'm putting the pictures behind links but if you have an issue reading about them, you might want to skip ahead to the snake lady.
Who wants a hug?
Story:Life and Death
One day, Rati the Insatiable sent a summons to her two brothers, Marawa the Destroyer, and Nareau of the Spiders. Knowing that they're right assholes, she sends gifts of green and red jade to prove she's serious. When they show up, she greets them warmly, then brings them downstairs to.. uhh..
Down below was a fat Goblin Spider and his dusky mate, reveling in lust, their bodies grinding and grating, their voices grunting and groaning in pleasure. Finally sated, they rolled away from one another, the Kumo male returning to human form to rest. Rati gave a sigh of content, but the brothers were less than amused.
Nareau is annoyed that his schedule has been interrupted to see a Kumo having sex ("Dancing in the Floating World"), and Marawa is annoyed that he's been called here to see life made rather than snuffed out. Since killing is where the real fun is. Rati points out that it wasn't just one Kumo having ("Engaged in the Floating Dance"), but two, and this has never happened before. So she wants ideas as to what should come of their mating, winner gets an entire room of jade.
The brothers really love their jade, so they thought long and hard, long enough that the female spider was getting extremely pregnant. She lounged around while Rati's servants brought her a bunch of food.
Nareau's idea is that since human kumo are amazing, and spider kumo are amazing, the children of both should be absolutely astounding and above both of their parents, covered in arms spinning thousands of threads.
Marawa likes Nareau's idea but points out that if it's a perfect child, it should have to prove its worth by
eating it's way out
, and waves his hand over the pregnant Kumo.
It takes the baby hours to eat his way out and the mother only dies once he's finished.
Nareau walks off and says he'll be waiting for his jade.
Unlike normal Ananasi, all Kumo are wyrm aspected in some way. There are three families, that follow: Marawa, pure Wyrm; Nareau, Wyrm/Weaver; or Rati, Wyrm/Wyld.
Some Kumo are solitary. Others congregate in small villages with an elder leader and four to five younger Kumo with their Kinfolk. Leadership isn't based on combat effectiveness but on age.... but they solve leadership disputes by the Endless Maze. Which entails several young Kumo building an intricate maze of webs and passages in an empty building, two Kumo enter, only one Kumo leaves.Kumo, especially Rati followers, LOVE breeding, and do so eagerly and indiscriminately among their kin. But if two kumo want to breed they need special dispensation, since if the tribe's numbers are too small they don't want to lose a warrior, no matter how awesome a Metis might be.
They don't follow the WoEV and they don't have auspices. For the purposes of rank and renown, they're treated like Ragabash. Hengeyokai don't recognize their rank in any way other than "a more dangerous than normal foe." They don't have rage, instead they have a Blood Pool like vampires. They can use it to heal wounds or take extra actions, it tops out at 10 and having 0 blood doesn't inconvenience them any more than just being hungry. They also have abysmally low starting willpower. They aren't vulnerable to silver, a blessing from their patron. And are instead vulnerable to hong mu, a "rare and fragrant variety of red rosewood", which damages them like silver does werewolves.
Homids are human born. Arachnos are born from an egg sac like normal spiders, and then they eat all of their kin to gain the sustenance to grow to their full size, hopefully their parent notices their hunger and gets them a few human bodies to finish growing. Metis, unlike the other tribes, they're considered blessed and revered. Not everyone has the privilege of eating their way out of the womb, because if they did then there wouldn't be any more Kumo, have the most gnosis of the breeds.
Their homid form looks like any other human.
Lilian-either a four-armed spider centaur or a six-armed human. Head has glowing eyes with large teeth. Hindquarters have two large spinnerets, chest swells to accommodate two sets of lungs, one that can breath air and one that can breathe underwater?
Entire body is covered in chitin. It's described as even more horrifying than any Garou, except that the form statistics only give it a -2 to appearance. Garou Crinos form sets your appearance to zero, flat out.
can have appearance 3, making it more attractive than the average human.
Aghora(Pithus)- Spider the size of a damned car. For a blood point they can spin a web as strong as a steel cable (Str 9!). They lose their water-breathing lungs but gain wyrm tainted toxin. Those that are bitten, in addition to a rather painful bite (homid strength+6 aggravated!) need to make a difficulty 7 (9 for humans and mages) stamina roll or lose a point from a random physical attribute. These points heal like aggravated damage, and if any stat drops to 0 they fall unconscious until healed or eaten.
Here's a face only a mother could love, from a distance, if she had cataracts
Thousand Fang- SPIDERS FUCKING EVERYWHERE! 200 spiders per dot of strength the Kumo possesses, as long as one spider survives the kumo can consume other spiders and eventually re-form, he might be a little loopy from losing most of his memories lost in the other spiders but he'll still be mostly himself. The only non mental stats that aren't set to zero are charisma and Dexterity. They can spin normal spider webs but they can't really deal damage.
They can get no less than 3 more exotic varieties of fuck-you-up poison, eat other spiders to heal themselves, and create shadow-doubles like a displacer beast
Quotes and Stereotypes
"These lands are our homes, too. You should show some respect for chosen ones like yourselves, and kowtow most carefully to us - or else we shall set our webs ringing, webs that reach even into the Yomi worlds. Do you truly want to look on that which would answer?"
Surprise, they hate everyone.
Welcome back spider haters.
Lady, there's something wrong with your everything.
Story:The Death of Jatadaka
We finally find out who the three mothers from the Nagah proverb are, earth, moon, and river. River is the third mother and apparently all Nagah really love her. One day she rose from her banks and sought out a champion. She found Vasana the Three-Hooded, sunning himself on a rock and went to him.
He prostrated himself since, you know, the god of rivers just kinda walked up to see how things were going. She told him that a great Rakshasa named Jatadaka was being a dick and eating a human every day then washing his beard in the river. Vasana said that he'd get it
So Vasana went to where Jatadaka lived, and was set upon by bandits, he caught one and injected him full of his venom, but let the others live. He went to Jatadaka's cave, tossed the corpse in front of it and prostrated himself saying "Enjoy the taste of his flesh, and then hear my plea!"
Jatadaka is an idiot, takes him at his word, eats the corpse BEFORE attacking the Nagah, and the Nagah strikes while he stumbles, injecting him with even more venom, which kills him. He cuts off his head and rolls it into an anthill.
The Nagah are the judges of shapeshifter-kind, keeping the balance since the Wyrm will not. They enforce the mandates, and the Litanies of all the different breeds. Only the Hengeyokai know that they still live, all the other people in all the rest of the worlds think they
were killed in the war of rage.
The rest of the Beast Courts think it... oh god.. think it's
to speak openly of the Nagah, so they refer to them only in poetic metaphors. Like "The Lengthening Shadows" or "The Sighing Twilight" or "The Hush of the River". Nagah see killing as the highest of art forms, but also practice sculpture, poetry, and painting in their down time.
Apparently their numbers are rather low because when the courts warred amongst themselves, thinking everyone else was corrupt, they thought the Judges corrupt most of all since if they had LET people become corrupt then they must be corrupt. Bears are still dead as doornails though.
Nagah never work alone because Vinata serves as a reminder of what destruction a Wyrm Tainted nagah can bring. For those who don't remember from the Last Fatal and Friends topic. Vinata was the Nagah that
started the Wars of Rage that wiped out two whole shapeshifter breeds and about 90% of the rest of them
, the Nagah covered this up because they don't want to look bad.
Nagah don't hold Caerns of their own in the middle kingdom, each group of three naga is attached to one of the beast courts. They try to remain hidden, but they don't overreact then one of the Hengeyokai see them. You see, Revealing yourself to a Sunset Person is punishable by death. Because if the Sunset People learn that the Nagah are still alive they fear that they will destroy the beast courts just to root the Nagah out. Which seems a little extreme since the Garou don't even know the Nagah kicked off the war of Rage, they'd probably be happy that they didn't wipe out a FOURTH race.
Nagah cannot step sideways unless they are in their own Ananta(personal spirit realms), have a gift, or are in a Mountain Sentai. They need to pay full out-of-clan XP costs for any Gift not specifically tagged as a Nagah Gift, since they're so tightly tied to the Dragon Princes most other spirits think they can ignore them. Among their own breed they don't really keep track of Renown, they just rank up whenever the Elders of their breed(the storyteller) say they can. They have Four Auspices based on the seasons.
There's no real social difference between Nagah breeds, Gnosis is the same as with werewolves. Their Metis are as fertile as any other, and they aren't deformed, and are actually particularly fecund. However they don't breed a bunch of Metis to shore up their numbers since they fear a curse will descend upon them if they 'defy the balance'.
They've got 5 forms like werewolves, and 3 times per day, in every form save homid, they can inject venom with a bite. If any damage from the bite gets through, his opponent has to make another soak roll against
7 Aggravated Damage
. They can spit the venom too but this takes 2 doses.
Silkaram-Glabro, they've covered in scales, and their hair is replaced with bony ridges, they have webbed hands and feet and their teeth are fused together except for their canines which are now retractable fangs.
Azhi Dahaka-Giant cobra(16-20 feet long!) with a torso and arms. Even non-cobra Nagah have a hood. They're amphibious(They have gills
) and all of their limbs are as flexible as a snake's spine, even their arms. Bizarrely, this form only has App-2 just like the Spider crinos form.
Kali Dahaka- 'Hispo', a giant king cobra as thick around as a man's leg. Occasionally has a tiny little pair of arms but this is considered 'unsightly', so most Nagah use a second shapeshifting roll once they've assumed the form to make them go away. This form is also amphibious.
Vasuki- It's a snake.
It's a skin condition, honest
They can erase their existence from the memory of any surviving witnesses, they remember SOMETHING happened but replace the memories with something more appropriate. They can grow bone armor over their bodies, increasing their soak and giving them str+3 agg weaponry. They can
breathe scalding hot gas
which for some reason requires a dex+firearms roll to hit, and only has a range of 20 feet.
Quotes and Stereotypes
"You have run far and hidden well, but you cannot hide the empty place in Hell that bears your footprints, nor mute the silver knives of demons who cry your name like jilted lovers. It is time for you to stop shirking your fate and to assume your place."
They don't trust anyone, they don't know what to think of the Kitsune(They weren't around when the Nagah's laws were created) and they think the Zhong Lung are the bestest things ever.
Story: Fire that Cleanses
A Nezumi is walking through a human market, the stench of humans is overpowering the rotting fish and pig feces. He sees his target, a seventy year old man hawking fireworks. Apparently hundreds of rats have been slaughtered in the past few weeks, hundreds of his kinfolk brethren. But the humans have not been punished by the beast courts and this annoys him.
The humans fled the poverty of rural towns to live in the slums of the city, but this also annoys him since that means more humans are breeding. So he tosses a small package of C4 on a detonator into the man's stock and flees into the sewers. "He loved working as an exterminator"
The Nezumi keep human growth in check, and if they had their way they'd be slaughtered down into tiny farmsteads. Right now, as the Hakken are masters of High War and Bushido. The Nezumi are masters of Low War and Ninjitsu. As the Hakken bred with the Bushi, the Nezumi bred with the Eta, the untouchables of Japan. Many terrorist weapons and attacks in Japan and the rest of China have been misattributed to other groups, but it's usually the Ratkin holding the dagger.
Now they're waiting for the Hakken's tactics to fail so they can take over and wreak bloody vengeance.
Ninja, Ninja, Rat! Ninja, Ninja, Rat!
Nezumi exist in one big extended family, everyone is a child of rat. Every nezumi si a brother or sister, an uncle or aunt. Important Nezumi have three names, a human name, a gang name, and a court name.
For Instance, Yo Fa, an illustrious Knife Skulker, is also known as Poison Claw. His court name is formed by a serious of subtle screeching, whuffling and chittering sounds
Wouldn't you want the court name to be the one actually pronounceable by others at the court?
As befitting a breed of shapeshifting Rats, Rodens breed are the most numerous for the Ratkin. Special note should be taken of exactly
the Nezumi breed. See, no matter how many children a rat sires, they'll only be kinfolk. That is unless he bites them and infects them with the 'Birthing Plague', at which point they get horribly sick and have strange nightmares. There's a 10% chance that they will change into ratkin. If they don't they need to make a difficulty 6 threshold 3 Stamina roll to survive. If they fail they
take an additional level of agg damage every day until they die or are cured. If they aren't kinfolk they have to make the same roll at difficulty 8.
I'm cheating a bit because this image is actually from the Ratkin Breed book, I found it when I was looking up the rite of the Birthing Plague. I don't care because it's awesome.
All Nezumi have excellent night vision, even in homid form. They can spend a point of gnosis to see in absolute darkness for a whole day. And they have -1 difficulty on all perception rolls. They have four auspices of their own, that gain rank as the closest associated WoEV auspice.
Seers(Mirrors) the mystics of the Nezumi.
Tunnel Runners(Leaves) the scouts.
Skulkers(Pillars) the Assassins.
Warriors(Fists) "They're too well protected to assassinate? MURDER EVERYONE!"
Breeds and Forms
They've got Homid, Rodens, and Metis, oddly Metis have the most gnosis of the breeds.
They've only got Homid, Crinos, and Rodens forms, interestingly unlike the western ratkin, assuming human form is more difficulty for the Metis and Rat born.
This is amazingly racist in so many ways
They can steal or spoil grain, call darkness to hide, force humans to stampede if they're in crowds, or make an enemy's toxic/poisonous powers harm themselves. They can also make a new plague specifically tailored for a nearby area. The more crowded the area the harder it is to survive.
Quote and Stereotypes
"When the sun shines, the field of battle is yours. When it sets, you will know the talents of my kind. You have learned to fight what you can see; soon, you may need to fight what you cannot."
They see the need for Hakken but think them weak. Unsurprisingly they hate Khan and pretty much everyone except for the Kitsune, Tengu, and (surprise) the Zhong Lung.
This image is also awesome
Story: Sensei Mizuchi
The Dragons were sad because the Wan Xian had been turned into horrible creatures because of their failure. They wanted to atone and share their wisdom but they didn't want to cause more pain for the shen. one day a beautiful dragon maid was walking down the beach when a shark swam up on the beach and turned into a young man, he walked over to her and he was bright and curious but ignorant. So she called together all the other dragons and they decided that "hey, they like water, we like water, we should take them under our wings!" So they sent the shark (who's name was Mizuchi) back to his people. Where they said "Young fool, too much time thinking has rotted your brain!"
Mizuchi sung a song which caused the dragon maid to be summoned into his presence and the sharks all bowed before Mizuchi, who was their new sensei.
They're more civilized than their Rokea cousins around the rest of the world, but that's not saying much. Other Rokea basically operate on an endless cycle of "eat, sleep, shit, fuck,
don't die because you're immortal for some reason
". They do adhere to the WoEV though, as much as they can. They at least Try for the sake of the Zhong Lung. They also have their own version of Bushido.
Attend the Elders; you owe them all
Respect tribe members, and they honor you in return.
Dishonor is a mark of lower beings.
Battle is always honorable
If you are alive, you are still learning.
Protect territory the dragon kings have given you
The Were-sharks are kind of awesome.
Unlike other were-sharks, the Bito actually have homid kin and homid born weresharks. They guard them jealously because it's kind of a thing among the Rokea that homid born weresharks are Kill on Sight. Homid Kin likewise. They value strength, but their leaders are actually some of their weakest members, Rokea born of Goblin Sharks can step sideways like Garou can, otherwise Rokea can't step sideways at all without a high level rite that can only be performed at underwater deep sea caerns.
They've got 3 auspices, Ahroun/Galliard/Ragabash and get less rage than regular Rokea do. They can only regain gnosis in the water. They also have more willpower than their more feral kin.
Breeds and Forms
Like I mentioned, Bito actually have homid were-sharks, most of their number are shark born, and sharks only breed twice a century "as is proper". Forms are the same as Garou.
Kabina- Homid form, they often look like hulking cavemen since they've got a lack of human blood.
Tsufu- Glabro, bulging eyes, giant mouth, vestigial dorsal fin, webbed fingers, can barely speak.
Karvu- Crinos, a 10 foot tall man-shark. Mouth full of teeth, covered in serrated skin, claws and spiked fins, amphibious breathing. They can't speak but they can communicate with eachother with electrical impulses.
I'm only slightly exaggerating, surprisingly they're still amphibious like this
Watasami- Sharks, they can only shift to this form if they're completely submerged in water.
Gifts and Rites
They can mentally call Zhong Lung, bite things hard, bite things harder, grow about as large as that picture I linked up above, or gain near-infinite rage for the entire duration of a combat.
Quotes and Stereotypes
"The Lords have decreed that you are thoroughly unwelcome in these waters. Leave now, or your blood will flow through the gills of my brethren and your skull will make a home for crabs."
Unsurprisingly, they adore the Zhong Lung. They've also got more or less neutral opinions of the other breeds, except Nagah, that entry is "[sullen stare]".
What is wrong with your waist
Story: Ice Feathers and the Shih
There was a tengu from the mountains who spent most of his time hunting down Bakemono and chih-mei, the rest of his time was spent stealing food from humans. One summer day it was really hot and he only saw peasants who couldn't afford to lose their food. But then he saw a priest who was broad shouldered, and dropped down in front of him wearing his war form.
Then the priest drew his sword and he realized that the reason he was broad shouldered and well fed was he was a Shih, a temple knight who hunts Shen. So Ice Feathers hopped around looking scared and started screaming about how a truly great Shih had finally come to kill him with a sword drenched in Bakemono blood, which was poison to Tengu.
The shih looked confused so the Tengu told him that he was really quite a strong fighter and if the Shih didn't have a poisoned sword he didn't stand a chance, but since he was bound to do one good deed before returning to hell there just so happened to be a nest of Bakemono just down the road. Oh and since it's so hot why don't you just leave your cloak and pack here and the Tengu will watch over them for you.
The Shih agreed to this.
Surprisingly though, the tengu was still there when he got back, and the Shih attacked him. One swipe of his sword and the tengu exploded in a puff of feathers. He then went off to tell his friends what a good poison bakemono blood was without noticing he was missing his
Scouts, spies, and heralds. They love tormenting priests and the pious, spreading misinformation, but it's harder to do now that the internet is a thing. They can eat the eyes of a corpse to learn the circumstances of their death.
They don't really have one, they're numerous and individualistic. There's a faction of Tengu that apparently abduct humans and train them as demon hunters.
Gold deals damage to tengu like Silver does to werewolves. Their in-tribe renown works like Mirrors does. Regardless they prefer Wisdom renown.
Breeds and Forms
Tengu only have Homid and Raven breeds, and an even more peculiar way of reproducing than ratkin. They have to spend half their starting gnosis, permanently, to create a spirit egg, which they can then bind to a baby human or raven, doesn't even have to be kinfolk. Each tengu usually considers their physical and spiritual parents to both be their parents.
They only have 3 forms, Homid, Crinos, and Corvid. Their Crinos form can fly "in blatant disregard for their body mass" and there are a few special gifts the tengu developed especially for fighting in this form.
Gifts and Rites
They have a bunch of knowledge and persuasion gifts. They can turn their feathers metallic and sharper than a sword. Throw their feathers like darts. Throw HUNDREDS of feathers like darts. and disappear in a puff of feathers and pretend to be dead.
Quotes and Stereotypes
"Our cousins miss so much when blinded by the boundaries that the humans have set for themselves. How can anyone dismiss such a diversity of belief and ideas? If only they could see the Middle Kingdom from above, they would gasp at the wonder of it all."
Unsurprisingly they like pretty much everyone. They love the dragons though. Surprisingly the DO like the Sunset People.
Surprisingly low key and the proportions aren't bad? Amazing.
Story:The Five Eggs of Si Wang Mu
Si Wang Mu brought five dragon eggs to earth to hatch, for one year she played with them and protected them. Eventually the Dragon Kings called her back home, so she gathered up the children and told them she had to leave.
Each of them picked a season, wind, and color they loved the most. But there are only 4 seasons, the Fifth was blessed with memory and his gift was shared amongst all the Zhong Lung.
The best and most awesome of all the Shen. They're the oldest and have all the knowledge of all the ages. Unlike Western Mokole, Zhong Lung don't dream of dinosaurs, they dream of Eastern dragons. They also have gender specific names. Male Dragons are k'iulung and have horns, whiskers, and pearls on their throats. Female dragons are Chi'lung, and have feathers and long noses.
Now I'm no Chinese scholar, but I am pretty sure that "Long" is Chinese for dragon, not Lung. Lung is DnD speak for "Chinese dragon", which means yet again we've fallen into 'everything I learned about asia I learned from AD&D' territory.
Anyways, each dragon dreams their form into being either shortly before or at their first change, and their war forms vary drastically. Also they're so regal and amazing, other hengeyokai that look upon them need to roll willpower to be able to shapeshift.
Otherwise they can't, because the dragons are just that awesome.
They also have this thing called chuming, which is described as the "inside knowing of things", which allows them to stare into the hearts and souls of people to discover truths.
Their only flaw is that they're detached from the mortal world. Dispassionate about the dull affairs of human society.
Male Zhong Lung live alone. Female Zhong Lung gather in small groups of three or for called ching-tu, for the protection of mothers and their young. They don't often mate across breeds. They also partake of the practice of having an elderly female Zhong Lung past her
childbearing years serve as an "aiyi", or "aunt", as a negotiator and go between for the homids. The male, kinfolk or Zhong Lung, must prove himself worthy and full of wisdom to impress his respective mate and the Aiyi.
Females by nature are quite choosy and demanding
The Zhong Lung have four auspices, that are once again direct rip-offs of the Garou auspices.
All of them except Galliard, because All zhong lung are lore keepers and tale tellers, they ALL get Galliard gifts. When they join Sentai, they pick whatever role they want considering they all have their own auspices and winds, and since they're the Zhong Lung everyone just
lets them do what they want.
Zhong Lung, like all Mokole, have a trait called Mnesis which is basically a racial memory going back to the third age. They regenerate damage like Garou do, but since they're creatures of both the sun and moon they take damage from gold and silver in equal measure. They gain renown and rank like their associated garou auspices and have their own ranks that are all different names of Lung dragons from AD&D.
Breeds and Forms
There are only two breeds of Mokole, Homid and Draco, draco being either an alligator, crocodile, or Komodo Dragon for Asian Mokole. They also only have 3 forms, Homid, Archid, and Suchid. Suchid is the regular old reptile form. Archid is their 'dragon shape' that they dream/remember into being either before their first change or at their rite of passage (the game flip flops between the two depending on the paragraph). They 'buy' traits with their starting gnosis, and after that point they're fixed.
What you should take away from this is that you can make a starting character with 20 soak dice and the ability to sit on someone for ~11 damage. Also since the Zhong Lung are more sinuous than their dinosaur formed brethren, they get extra dexterity in their Archid form.
Gifts and Rites
In addition to having access to two garou gift lists, they have their own gift list. They can walk on air, mix their blood with a wounded person to heal them, breath lightning, call down a storm, hibernate like a bear, and shapeshift into any human being with almost perfect accuracy, raising the difficulty to detect anything's amiss to 9.
They have a bunch of rites that correspond to the nature of seasons.
Quote and Stereotypes
"Once we made the mistake of abandoning our duty as instructors. Never again. All the children of the Emerald Mother are welcome to sit at our talons and learn from the wisdom of the Cycle - should they have the patience to do so."
They think the Hakken, Khan, Kitsune, and Tengu are blind, they hate the Kumo and the Sunset people, and Love the Nagah, Nezumi, and Same-Bito.
Chapter Four: Weapons and Antagonists
I know those Charlies Angel's:Japan auditions were in here somewhere
This chapter opens up with a Quote from Orion by Shirow Masamune
Damn it! This is beginning to PISS ME OFF! Does this place have a never-ending supply of WEIRD STUFF!
So it gets a chuckle out of me.
The chapter is quick to point out that roleplaying a hengeyokai isn't just "putting a Garou in a kung fu tunic and lantern pants." Because the Hengeyokai have mysticism and spirituality that are so much
different than their western kin. As far as merits and flaws go, you have 'good at court politics' and 'bad at court politics', as well as
which let you(or the ST for unlucky) nominate one roll per session. If it's lucky, 9s explode as well as 10s. If it's unlucky, 2s count as botches as well as 1s.
There's a sidebar that goes over Martial Arts and shapeshifters. Talks about how most martial arts weren't designed with shapeshifters in mind, and that Kailindo only works for Werewolves. Because the Stargazers are the only tribe who have been able to master their rage in such a fashion.
Shapeshifters can learn human martial arts but they only work in their appropriate homid or glabro forms. Crinos usually has claws and that's not even taking into account Archid and Lilian.
This is the common gift list to everyone, and there are a lot of hold overs from other books. For instance, the Create Element gift from the W:TA Core book, amusingly if the player is in tune with the "proper elements"(read: The ones that the Hengeyokai believe in, and are therefore correct) they can summon
. No this doesn't mean that you can bring Luna down to check on the tides, but you can summon a ball of pure moonlight that provides illumination and 'comfort'. Mindspeak is also here so that court members can actually talk to each other. They can also set their claws on fire.
There are only two rites here worth noting. Rite of the Spirit tattoo lets you bind a spirit into a temporary tattoo/talen that you can activate once to use one of their charms. It's considered a good way to sneak an extra weapon into an area if necessary.
It also looks like it hurts a lot
The other is the Rite of Hell Made Flesh.
One of the direst punishments known to the Courts, this rite is reserved for those who have betrayed the Emerald Mother and her servants in the most heinous of ways. The subject is dragged out to a desolate place where no one will hear his cries or care (this actually includes some urban districts, in some cases). The ritemaster describes the subject's crimes, appealing to the spirits to punish such treachery. They do so in a horrible way - by slowly transmuting the victim's bones into silver, gold, or hong mu rosewood, whichever is most appropriate. The change begins at the feet and proceeds upwards to the skull - by the end of the rite's completion, the subject has been boiled alive by their own skeleton. Even if the subject is in breed form, this death is hideous. The body is then disposed of in the most matter of fact way possible, to avoid further offending the spirits - some greedy homids who've cut open the corpse for the silver or gold have found themselves cursed with horrible withering ailments for coveting the byproduct of treachery.
Don't fuck with the beast courts or they will burn you from the inside out.
There's an Ofuda that bursts into flames when you toss it at banes or Kuei-jin. A kusari-gama that can drain spiritual energy out of spirits.
Roll gnosis to activate this Fetish, upon activation you transform into a Rob Liefeld drawing
A cloak that the tengu can use to use the feather-specific gifts in homid form. Rice paper fans that can summon one of the five winds, and a staff that can shatter anything man made, including armor.
There are some new Formori powers, including "Vomit up a pile of Centipedes", "Shoot Poisonous Darts out of your mouth", "Shapeshift painfully by flowing like wax into your new form", "Get razor sharp tattoos all over your body", "Covered in dozens of mouths that bite and digest flesh but not swallow it", and "Look really pretty".
There are a couple of new Banes too, including the "Face Jackets"
Exactly as creepy as advertised
There's also a rough summary of Kuei-jin, with this quote at the end.
For the ultimate sourcebook for Kuei-jin, as well as a look at the cities of the Middle Kingdom, check out Kindred of the East;
you don't even have to own Vampire: The Masquerade to use it. Really.
Which is just rubbing salt in the wound
There's a picture on the page with Kuei-jin rules of a Kitsune fighting a Penanggalen. Which probably reminds you that Kitsune are supposed to be in this book, but were omitted from chapter 3.
That's because the next 71 pages of the book are devoted to them.
Original SA post
Sorry for the delay, it's been a hell of week. But I'm in a good mood now
so let's get a chapter done.
Hengeyokai Chapter 5: The Nine-Tails
Just a note, that's not a Godzilla sized fox in the background, it's meant to be her reflection. The perspective is just really screwy.
The first thing you see when you turn the page is this
I do kind of like this, it's evocative of how the Kitsune handle things with their kinfolk and children, and it's the sort of thing someone shortly after their first change would get, so the sense of "Oh god what is happening, what do these words mean, what are you talking about dad!?" is intentional.
The only problem is that it's
. It's better when zoomed in, but I can't imagine books were meant to be read at a distance of six inches.
I expect you're wondering why your mother and I aren't home. Until this moment, I truly thought we would be there in person - that we would be allowed to explain things in our own way, before anything strange entered your life. Please forgive us, and remember this isn't our idea of a good-bye.
The time has come to tell you the truth, or at least a part of it: you are not our own child. Your birth mother was my little sister, joy; Amy and I are your aunt and uncle.
Joy came to me in tears, but happy, in her last year of college. She was pregnant and getting married, I didn't take it well at first - our family was strict - but agreed to go with her and meet the man she loved. There were certain arrangements they wanted help with.
I won't even try to explain your real father to you. I don't believe what happened, myself. But I saw, and later Amy saw, and we agreed that should anything happen to Joy, we would raise you as our own.
We had to promise to give you up to your father any time after your twelf birthday, to teach you martial arts, music, calligraphy, Mandarin, Japanese, and other things - vietnamese, because I think your mother wanted it - and to keep this a secret until it was time for you to go.
Joy died in childbirth. I suspect she knew she would. Your father took one look at you and fled the room and, I think, the country. We have not seen him since.
Mei, there are many things about your other family that we don't understand, but Uncle Hu, at least, has helped us a great deal over the years, watching over you in sickness and danger like a guardian angel. I think you can trust him.
We're told we have to go now.
Darling, Amy and I love you very much. Please don't think we've been the cuckoo's parents, not knowing any better - we will never forget you. Our door will always be open for our daughter. Remember us, sweetheart.
Your Uncle Hu will be here to pick you up at seven. Do what he tells you, study hard, and I know you will make us proud.
I can understand why they wanted to go with the 'handwritten note' route for this, as it adds to the realism of it, I just wish they had used something a little closer to block print, or a larger font. Cause there's actual emotion that goes into this writing and you can relate to it.
Then you turn the page.
So you may be wondering why the effective changing breed book for the Kitsune is kind of - well - stuck onto the tail end of Hengeyokai, instead of running wild and standing free as it's own book. If you're not wondering, great, please skip onto the lexicon.
However, without feeling the need to justify ourselves here, we would like to make a point:
to justify ourselves to you, but if you insist I suppose I can lower myself to give an answer.
Other Changing Breeds have worldwide "memberships."
Kitsune think of themselves
as hengeyokai, never Bete.
To sum up: Sure, you can play a hengeyokai without having to know anything about Kitsune. But you
play a Kitsune without knowing about the hengeyokai.
Yeah, cause there were never any fox myths in Europe. Fox spirits never showed up in Native American myths. Nope, Trickster foxes only exist in Asia. This isn't even getting into the fact that the Korean equivilant to Kitsune want
your tasty tasty livers
and the Chinese equivilent are out to
steal your penis/nipples
. Did Aesop have dick-stealing liver-eating she-foxes?
I thought not.
No, the real reason that the Kitsune aren't all over the world is because that would take away their specialness. The author seemed to think that there was a false dichotomy that by making them more common they would become mundane. If you spread them out around the world and knocked down their ego a few pegs they'd probably be okay. But no, the Kitsune are
and they will never let you forget it.
As evidenced by yet another lexicon(I've skipped over a few, Hakken, Same-Bito, and Zhong Lung all had their own lexicons) where they've got their own words for damn near everything.
Ju-Fu: Kitsune Paper and Rune Magic
Jyu-Ho: All Fox Magic
Yojutsu: Hedge Magic
Another thing to note from the lexicon, they've got 3 different words for different kinds of magic, such that they needed a fourth word just to ball them all up. Even better, one of these (Ju-Fu) Is Kitsune only, because only Kitsune figured out how to make magic Origami.
Up Next: The real history of the world and at least two ways that foxes are better than you.
Birth of the Youngest
Original SA post
Chapter 6: Birth of the Youngest
Leather Wrappings and a fishnet shirt? What?
This chapter opens up with Uncle Hu and Mei-Fei Quan waiting outside of a San Francisco(?) apartment. Eventually the door is opened by a woman wearing "bright blues and dark yellow - flowing, filmy skirts; a loose, elegant blouse; a long brocade fest left open." and "skin the color of old ivory, her eyes perfect almonds, jet-black, shadowed by long lashes." Mei-Fei describes her as the most beautiful person. Anyways, she and Uncle Hu hug and converse for a while, completely ignoring Mei. Though eventually they invite her into the apartment and Uncle Hu introduces her as "Sondok, Queen of Silla." Silla being one of the ancient kingdoms of Korea that has been defunct since 935 AD. She responds with "I was never Queen of Silla. I am Kitsune, I am Kataribe, I am Sondok at the moment." then tells her it's time for dinner since she's going to need her strength; "we open your eyes tonight."
A Bed Time Story
We then transition to that night, Mei is exhausted from whatever happened, and Sondok is telling her a story. Specifically the story of Bai Mianxi, the first Kitsune.
Bai Mianxi was sitting in her house in Henan(a province of China) when a white rabbit ran into her house, hopped up into her lap, and bit her paw, then ran away. Mianxi assumed her fox shape and chased after the rabbit until all four of her feet were red with blood. The chase went through, in order, Vietnam, the Taklimakan Desert, Beijing, Mongolia, and Sichuan. As she ran through Sichuan she could hear her consort Prince Inari laughing at her plight, and then she lost the rabbit.
She was furious, and spent some time screaming in rage. Eventually she stopped and tried to figure out how to explain to Inari that she has lost the fox, step one would be to wipe all the blood off of her paws, so she went to a nearby well. She started washing her hands in the bucket when she saw the rabbit curled up on the surface of the water at the bottom of the well. So she pounced it.
And she landed a sparkling white path, on two legs. Surrounded by the loveliest garden she had ever seen. Eventually she was approached by a stranger, who was first a gold and silver fox, then a two legged fox like herself, and then a human. This person welcomes her to Heaven.
Bai Mianxi thinks she drowned in the well, and laments how the other ghosts will laugh at her, but the other person says that she must hurry or be late for her audience. Bai Mianxi gets all prim and proper and wonders why she is granting an audience to anyone. The person rebuffs her and tells her that she is being
an audience by her sister, Gaia. The other person, now identified as the Silver Lady (AKA, Luna, the moon. Who was probably also the Rabbit earlier, Japan thinks there's a Rabbit on the Moon making rice cakes the same way Europeans think there's a Man in the Moon) leads Bai Mianxi into Gaia's court, and tells her to be on her best behavior, as Mianxi's elder siblings have made Gaia quite short tempered. She must kow-tow upon entering and never raise her eyes, or Gaia will be angry at her presumptuousness.
So Bai Mianxi walked inside, and no one knows what the inside of Gaia's court looks like. Not because Mianxi adhered to Luna's rules, but because she was smart enough not to tell anyone that she hadn't.
Since she's a Fox.
Anyways, she kow-tows angrily ("Kow tows were things other foxes made to her, not something she did herself") and sits there waiting, since she had the sharpest ears amongst the animal kingdom she should obviously hear Gaia before she arrives.
She doesn't, of course, instead hearing a voice that is "loud in her heart and terrifyingly quiet in her ears."
This is the end of your childhood. From now on, you and your people must work, and fight, and serve Us as dutiful sons and daughters. There are too many of you, you are breeding left and right - you are almost as bad as our child Man.
You anger Heaven; you defer to no gods; you upset the local spirits with your tricks. There are legions of angry human ghosts here to petition me, saying you steal from and mischief their descendants day and night - We approve of that, but you must accomplish more, and leave alone those few who do still revere Us.
We have spoken. Go. Your aunt will instruct you.
Mianxi panics, and starts asking Gaia questions, saying that they're small and weak, and run instead of fighting. They shouldn't be held accountable for breaking Heaven's rules since they were never told them. And that they shouldn't have to grow up since they were never told that they were children, so they didn't enjoy it as much as they should have.
Then she tries to make a bet with Gaia, saying that they should have a wrestling contest with their pet praying mantises. Her mantis being a thin stone painted green. But Gaia rebuffs her saying that Coyote already tried that one. She tries to tell her a secret but Raven has already told her the secret. She tries to show her a powerful magic spell but Cat already knows it and taught it to Gaia.
Now Bai Mianxi is panicking, she was the first kitsune, and she led other foxes to speech and wisdom. Now they're all going to be punished for her crimes. So she offers to fight Gaia's mightiest champion to buy off the Doom from her people. Gaia tells her No, as brave as she is and as noble as the sacrifice might be, her champions would destroy her. And Gaia did not allow her to wake to intelligence just for her to commit suicide by wolf.
So Bai Mianxi declares that since Gaia already has everything a Fox can offer her, she's off scott free. Feeling suitably smug, she raises her eyes to look at Gaia. She only gets as far as the hem of Gaia's robe, which is described as cobwebs and flame, with a green serpent writing between them. The web snuffed out the flames. The flames burned the edges of the web. And the dragon bit the cloth with his teeth and mended it with his claws. Then her eyes started to hurt and she fell unconscious. When she came to again her nose was pointed at the floor "where it belongs", and she felt the hand of Luna stilling her trembling hands.
Gaia spun around them in a harsh whirlwind, screaming. "They will betray Us! They will forget Us! We have had enough of Our Self destroyed by Our Own children!"
Luna asks Gaia to wait, and places her hand on Mianxi's back which pieces with icy pain, and tells Gaia to look into Mianxi's heart. At which point she faints again, she awakens curled up in Luna's lap, and Gaia is no longer ready to tear her apart.
I like the art in this chapter. I do
"We shall let you have your chance, little Fox." Gaia's voice was endurable once more, even tender. Bai Mianxi trembled in the Silver Lady's arms, and began to weep.
"We have for you three promises. Obey Us and Our sister Luna, and one day you
be best at something. Fight hard and We will help your people survive, even through the Sixth Age that is to come. Serve Us well, and in the last Ages of the world, we will give your people back their freedom."
"Leave Us now - We would sleep."
Then Luna carries Mianxi from the room since she's still too shaken up to walk away with dignity.
There is a lot here that won't be explained until later, but I
this story. She lets her hubris get the best of her and is called to task for her transgressions. She tries to trick her way out of service and is told that she can't because there's someone better than her. And when she gets smug about it she gets the metaphysical shit kicked out of her. There's quite a few lessons to be learned here, but it boils down to "There is always someone better than you, and they will hand you your ass if you're a smug self-important asshole, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't try to be the best you can be." The problem is that, well, this is still Hengeyokai. The previous chapter told us that they are special simply because
. The Rules and some of the text will not shut up about how awesome Kitsune are while the other paragraphs talk about how humble Bai Mianxi has become and how well she attends to her duty.
But first, the history of the world, kitsune version.
The Ages of the World
The Age of Gaia
All was Gaia. This was boring. Gaia decided to make children.
The Age of Birth
From her flesh she made the earth and yang things. From her blood she made the seas and yin things. From her afterbirth(
) which was both she made the things that are both. A litle she put aside in case something else needed making. She yanked out her own eyes and set them in the sky as the sun and moon. Her teeth and claws became stars.
Afterwards Gaia felt weak. Since all that was left of her was her
bones and womb
. Luna saw this and decided that she would care for her mother the best way she could. By taking her bones and putting them in her womb. Helios would watch over her by day and keep her warm, and Luna would keep watch at night. This became the earth. Gaia remained silent for a long time and then she died. Helios turned black with Rage and luna turned her face away in despair. But then she heard a cry and turned her face back and saw that Gaia's last act was birthing a new Gaia. The Gaia that Was became the Gaia that Is.
So with all the yin things and yang things and everything else that Gaia had created and made spirits and other creatures. But they couldn't control them as control didn't exist. They couldn't destroy the creatures without use as destruction doesn't exist. And the creatures couldn't reproduce as that didn't exist either. Three great spirits approached Gaia and offered to help. Spider had invented Control, Dragon had invented Destruction, and an Elemental spirit invented sex and fertility. They showed Gaia how the new magics work and she granted them leave to oversee creation. At that point she was tired and slept.
One night Luna looked down upon the earth and saw many fires spread across Gaia. Too many to have been started by lightning, and too small to be doing the job fire is supposed to do which is cleaning old growth to make room for new. She looks closer and sees naked monkeys where it is too cold for monkeys to rightly be, so she screams to gaia to wake up.
Gaia opens an eye and see this.
Gaia screams for Wyrm Weaver and Wyld, and asks them what this creature is that holds the power of their three offices. Weaver tells them that they are Man, and that Gaia made them herself "just after Mammoth and before Manatee" apparently they're incredibly adaptable and the triat uses them in their work. Gaia says that if she wanted Mankind to have shiny bones around their necks she would have created them with shiny bones around their necks. In fact she's reasonably certain she did create something with shiny bones around their necks, the, uhh. "Golden Bone-Hummers"
"Ah... They were old-fashioned.
monkeys can do all of that, and more - now that we have taught them what we know," said Weaver.
"Their time had passed. I take things when their time is done," said Wyrm. "I had Man get them out of the way."
"Gone!" roared Wyld. "Gone-Gone-Gone-Gone-
Gaia is obviously angry, so Wyrm offers to destroy Mankind, but Gaia says that enough damage has been done, and killing Man won't bring the Bone-Hummers back. Instead the triat must take their gifts away from mankind. But they can't, they can't turn back time any more than Gaia could, also the Wyld still isn't entirely sure what exactly it was that it did. Meanwhile Luna laments what a creature 'cursed' with all three of the triat's gifts would do.
Luna ponders that this whole thing was probably the Weaver's doing, and picks up a handful of mankind and a few other creatures to compare them.
I won't make the joke. I won't.
Man stank, had terrible fur, bad hearing, useless claws, a feeble sene of smell, poor sight, not much speed, no teeth worth mentioning and little humor. All of the other animals were better at the things that counted - or, that had counted up until now - and a lot more sense.
Luna turned her silvery eyes to the Three. "Why did you have to use monkeys?"
Gee thanks Luna
Anyways, as long as mankind exists, Luna figures that gaia will need guardians to guard her as she sleeps. So she takes the best of mankind and the best of the animals and wrapped them together with pieces of the Afterbirth that Gaia #1 saved, and bound the wrapping with a silvery strand of her hair. She makes Wolves, Ravens, Cats, Bears, Sharks, Dragons, Rats, Snakes, but not foxes. Not yet. Then she tossed them down to Earth to teach man to avoid weaver things and wyrm fires. She spoke to each of them of their duties, but then whispered to them to keep watch over the Triat, of course they didn't hear her.
She had leftover humans and animals once she was done. The humans whom she had touched still heard her words and became the Shamans. the Animals she had touched and the plants she had plucked them out of became the spirits of Gaia. And the creatures her hair touched as she bent down became Hsien, which are apparently beholden to Luna alone.
The Triat Wars
So Wyrm was pissed, he thought that Gaia had judged him unfairly for what was obviously not his fault. Why were Bone-Hummers(Book, stop using that name, please) more important than his feelings? He didn't understand what was wrong with the Weaver's idea of making mankind useful. And he hated Gaia and Luna for scolding him. Weaver just watched the new hengeyokai until she was distracted by the Wyrm's raging. Wyld just spun in place asking for forgiveness until Gaia said "Yes".
The weaver whispered in the Wyrm's ear, spinning threads around him, trying to harness his anger. She wove around the weakest parts of the Wyrm first, Duty, Judgment, Filial Piety, Sanity. Only once those were done did she try to wrap his Rage. It didn't work. She tried to escape but the webs were so strong they held her in place too, and she went mad. The Wyrm's thrashing cut into the weakest parts of him until all that was left was destruction and rage.
The Age of Legends
Wyrm and Weaver went insane together, and tried to make servants the way Luna had made the Hengeyokai, but they could never get it quite right, instead making many different kinds of Bakemono. Ten wyrm spirits realized that their boss was distracted so they set out to conquer the world. They became the Yama kings and warred against gaia. Humans fought on the side of Gaia, and strong spirits heard their prayers and helped, the humans worshiped them as Gods. The strongest of the spirits started buying into the worship and created the Wan-Xian out of their favorites. Eventually the mortals won and the Wan-Xian were were told to watch over the prisons of the Yama-Kings.
After the war the gods wanted to make things easier for themselves to keep track of, so they split the world into the Yin realms, Yang realms, and the Mortal World.
The Age of Testing
The gods made a mistake when they created the Wan-Xian, they didn't tell them about the Wyrm, and of Corruption. He tempted them with flattery, sloth, decadence, greed, depravity, ostentation, and Lies. They opened the gates of Yomi wide and looked out upon the world believing themselves its masters.
The Weaver in the mean time sent a great servant amongst the humans to tempt humanity. That servant was Progress, and Mankind
While Progress was doing it's job, the weaver sent thousands of smaller spirits to walk upon the wall that the gods had created between the mortal world and the world of spirit. gradually thickening it.
The Wan-Xian did their thing and told the Hengeyokai that their neighbors were dicks and the War of Shame happened. Gaia was woken by the war, saw the destruction that was happening, and decided to birth one last child.
The White-Faced One
Yup, Bai Mianxi. She was a very clever fox. Eventually she found that she was more clever than anything else ever. She could even hear the spirits and listen to their wisdom. While everyone else was doing their very best to kill everyone that wasn't them. Mianxi was just being a dick to everyone, finding more foxes, and training them how to be like her. Then she got bit by a rabbit and leapt down a well.
The Age of Darkness
She only spent a year in heaven, and when she came back her court was destroyed and Inari was missing. There was only one fox left, Burrs-in-the-Ears. He told her how the rest of the foxes had fled in her absence, and couldn't remember where Inari had gone except vaguely West. She wanted to chase after him but first she had a job to do. Burrs-in-the-Ears became Fire-Splits-the-Sky, the first pupil of Mianxi, and together they trained many other foxes in the new ways, only once there was a rank 5 fox of each of the new auspices did Mianxi leave to follow West.
The Fifth Age
As she traveled west, she ran into the other shen. First she found a Wan-Xian. She asked him how they were fairing nowadays, but he flushed red with rage. She smelled that his blood was no longer his own and that his dead skin covered rot. "The Wan Xian are no more little fox. Spare me your insults." They had become the Kuei-Jin.
She found three ghosts on the side of the road, and she asked them how the honored heroes of old were fairing. But they were not heroes, they were trapped because their families could not afford to bury them properly. The Old Heroes were gone.
Then she found two Hsien, bereft from the moon, who knew nothing of their heritage or of Inari.
Then she came across a Shaman who offered to find Inari for her if she would only tell him her Name. Finally she came to Nepal she climbed the highest mountain she could find that she could pray to Luna and ask if she was on the wrong path. There she encountered a Raven and a Tiger, who told her that they were all that was left of the Defenders of Gaia in those mountains. The rest were dead.
Um, hi over there.
Bai Mianxi wept, knowing that whatever small discomforts she had suffered meant nothing compared to the suffering of Gaia. So she prayed to Luna "I will use no more time searching for my love or my destiny. Forgive me for wasting these years looking for the Prince. What would you want me to do my lady?" to her surprise, Luna answered. "The time was not wasted, dear niece. The journey let you see what harm Yomi has caused your Mother and her servants; also you traveled in the right direction. Now we command you to leave the mountains for India. We wish you to spend time assassinating dynasties which Heaven no longer sees fit to rule. Many of them do not exist yet; you may be at this some time."
The Death of Empires
The opening to this part puts it better than I ever could.
Now Bai Mianxi proved herself not merely the First, but the Best. Little Kitsune like us may destroy an evil person - a politician, a ruler, a dictator, a Wyrm-sotted tyrant - and be proud to call the deed our own. Bai Mianxi executed
, and left the populace living
Why couldn't the book be about crazy regime destroying foxes working through the various human societies to kill the corrupt heads and helping those who were still good? Nope, as the first chapter tells you, the Kitsune
the courts, and completely inseparable. That's because of Prince Inari
The Prince Inari
I just said that, book.
Anyways, somehow Inari had also come into training as a Kitsune. He sent the elders among his court to the Hakken through a horrible storm of his own creation, forcing grandfather thunder to grant him an audience. He sent the most chatty Kataribe to the crows to gossip. He sent the youngest and most legend hungry kit to the Dragons. He sent the least scrupulous of his Eji to fight with the Nezumi and gain their trust. He sent the most attractive of his Doshi to the Khan and they fell for her. Finally he sent the kindest of his Gukutsushi to tend to the last dying Okuma in Japan. They became friends and the Bear said that he hoped one day the Kitsune would be trusted.
He didn't send anyone to the Snakes, but said that the Kitsune were to afford them all the courtesy in the world should the snakes seek out the Kitsune.
er, no, wait, that's actually the title of this section. Apparently Paper is magic, and the greatest creation of the Fourth Age. Since paper is earth, air, fire, and water, it's apparently quite holy. And since it's fragile and easily torn asunder, spirits don't mind being bound into it for short periods of time. Somehow though, as magic as it is, only Kitsune have figured this out. and they refuse to tell anyone else.
Foxes steal, eggs, berries, hares from traps. That's just what they do. And Gaia and Luna had to know this when they were created. Luna for her part doesn't really care that their thieves. Because they aren't the only ones. Ravens were bandits, and the Cats were also great thieves. They could even steal gifts from the other Hengeyokai. So that's what the Kitsune stole.
And they were very very good at it, stealing every Gift they could get their hands on.
One day two Doshi came upon a sickly black wolf that was performing divination with the entrails of a human corpse. They loved it so much that they decided to start practicing it themselves. Then they noticed that their breath stunk of centipede venom. They were very contrite, of course. Going to all the spirit realms and asking for forgiveness for what they had done. Eventually they found an old wolf who would give them an answer, but not the one they wanted to hear.
"Yomi is everywhere, a little of it is even in ourselves. Some have more of it and are eaten from within until there is nothing but Yomi left under their skins. Like the wolf from whom you stole your latest trick. In doing so, you invited Yomi into yourselves, and it is making itself comfortable."
They asked if there was a way to make Yomi leave, as they had already had all their kind
swear oaths to never steal gifts again
(Note this, this is important). But the Wolf said there wasn't, but if they were very very lucky and if the world was allowed to turn into the next age. Maybe Gaia would be strong enough to chase Yomi away from their souls.
After this Sondok bids Mei farewell, as she needs to go meet her next teacher.
Wei and Hu find themselves in a restaurant someplace that isn't really explained. He hands her a bowl of rice and tells her to stick her chopsticks in it, straight up, and leave it there. She hears a whisper on the wind and she's surrounded by an odd Fog. Eventually a young man walks up to her and starts talking in horribly broken English. "Little girl, rude to do this is. You sticks from food take, no? Settle up, Hu, You dine with me tonight. Bring your girlfriend, yes?" Yeah, this is the new tale teller. The last few pages are written like this.
"You listen well, little girl-fox. I was born underground, you know? I don't do the monkey-chatter the way some folks can. Strong, silent type me. But the ladies, fox or monkey, they like that, so nothing wrong there you know?" This guy's name is Blackfoot, because he doesn't wear shoes. He's a Gukutsushi and a lone fox. He's here to tell about the modern day.
Just to show you how bad this is.
East is always empires. East is always dynasties. Communism? Empire! People's republican army; imperial troops; no difference. Mao Tse Tung; Son of Heaven if there ever was one. And the Red Army children, they worshiped him just like any god's son. You find me one difference between Cultural Revolution and the Duke of Chin's purges; I give you my lunch.
The east also has "poor people looking to get out from under fat ass of emperor." some of whom might actually still remember Gaia and can be woken up, and if they're too far gone to Wake you turn them against one another so that a good man can take their place.
A whole bunch of words that boil down to "Democracy is Empire. Only differences: You get coup on schedule in democracy." also he talks about "Marco Polololololo".
The Sunset People
They ruin it for everyone. And watching Kuei-Jin rip apart a Kindred is hilarious.
The west brings the Weaver and that's the worst thing ever.
The Age of Sorrow
It's going to suck, but Mei is a Kitsune and they're the best things ever so they're gonna fix it somehow.
Up Next: Mei makes it to the beast courts and meets the living embodiment of
The Courtly Dance
Original SA post
This chapter is peak
, you have been warned.
What's Were-Tiger for "You Meddling Kid?"
Chapter 7: The Courtly Dance
It opens up with Uncle Hu and Mei waiting outside a cave, Uncle Hu goes inside, whispers a bit, and comes out looking pale, then tells Mei to go inside. There she meets a lone four-tailed Kitsune wearing threadbare brocade robes, surrounded by gnawed bones, his fur matted with dirt and mud. This is her father. He looks up at her and whispers "Su Vui Ve..." which if google translate isn't lying to me, means "Playfulness", someone screwed up and I'm more willing to believe it was white wolf. She introduces herself with some flowery prose i won't repeat, and he just stares at her some more and then says "Sit".
Kinfolk and the Curse
For every kitsune that is born, a life must be paid. No one knows why this is (the implication is because Gaia was too weak when she created the kitsune) but when a kitsune is born either their mother or father dies. Sometimes both are spared, sometimes both die, "Luna always takes her fee in the end".
In ancient times families would send their young ones (or the young ones of families indebted to them) to the foxes to be brides and grooms, knowing that the end goal was that they'd never see them again. There are still some arranged marriages, but most foxes just blithely mate with whoever. Others, like Mei's father, remain more aloof and never become attached to the other parents of their children.
"If only this were always possible, I do not want to speak any further of these things, I will give you a token to take to the Shining Cliffs Court, where you will speak with matsuko Sun-Devil and Katsuko Moon-Saint. I have lost interest in the formal affairs of our kind and you are much better off learning such important matters from those who still enjoy talking of them. Good-bye Mei, I think we shall meet again but I dare not say when."
I'm going to be honest, I really dislike this. I'm as guilty of using 'mother died in childbirth' as a character backstory as the next guy, but having it
just bothers me. The entire race has
pre-baked in. On top of that, if you decide you don't want your parents to die then you're
special and thus super blessed.
Oh, and Moon-Saint and Sun-Devil?
Long Life and Laughter
The tight knot of Western Garou strode proudly to the foot of the hillock on which the Gai'nan had gathered. The court and its guests - emissaries, wanderers, and two foot-weary travelers from San Francisco - watched quietly.
The twin Kitsune regents, Matsuko Sun-Devil and his sister Katsuko Moon-Saint, stepped forward in unison and bowed gracefully to the Sunset people
Yup, not only are they twin kitsune, they're fraternal twin kitsune.
"On careful consideration of your most generous offer of assistance, cousins -" said Matsuko, smiling sweetly.
"And consultation of our noble colleagues - " the vixen gestured courteously to the three behind them.
"Taking into account the tenor of opinion among our fellow courtiers and allies -" her brother nodded to the ring of hengeyokai that encircled the clearing.
"And not neglecting the truces, treaties, and understandings with the other courts whose interests would be affected by our decision -" the female Eji bowed deeply to the cluster of ambassadors; enemy and ally, shen all.
"We have decided not to avail ourselves of your aid," declared Matsuko. "We deny you passage through our territory. We deny you use of our sacred sites. We deny you the guides and information you have asked for."
They're fraternal twin kitsune who are smug dicks.
The Westerners, stunned but growing in anger, growled amongst themselves. Half of them were staring, openly, at the ambassadors, and sniffing the air in deep suspicion. Their leader cried out, "What is this? We came to help you. There are forces of the Wyrm advancing which you know nothing about - Pentex - formori -"
"Are there none of these to fight where you come from? Who defends your homes while you are away?" asked Katsuko, sharply.
The Westerners mutterings found their leader's ears, and his shoulders twitched and rippled as he fought to control himself. "We are Garou! We are Gaia's own, like you! We are your Kin! We should be your allies - but you turn us away and bargain with the walking dead before us!"
The twins' eyes met, and their sleek red heads nodded.
"We have an offer for you, gaijin," said Katsuko.
"We hesitate to ally with you because we know little of your character," her twin went on. "We have heard much of how you treat your friends."
"Bring to this Court one living Bunyip to testify on your behalf, and you may do here what you will."
They're fraternal twin kitsune who are
A note: the Bunyip were the Australian Garou. They got there back before there were any canids on the Island, so they negotiated a deal with the Mokole, they taught them a ritual that allowed them to breed with Tasmanian Tigers. So the Bunyip were were-marsupials that still called themselves Garou. The Garou arrived on Australia and were generally distrustful of them since they were different. Then the black spirals tricked the Garou nation into slaughtering them wholesale. They were created by the writers exclusively to be 'the other' and then get killed to provide a source of racial shame.
Of course Rage Across Australia has a different opinion
Rage Across Australia posted:
Some of these biologists say this defamation (of marsupials) stems from "pouch envy" and the fact that marsupial males' genitalia are much bigger in comparison to those of placental males. The Bunyip, by the way, bred with marsupials
The rest of the authors seem to think that the Garou killed them because their
dicks were bigger
Rage Across Australia was
Any way you slice it the Kitsune are basically going "Ha ha you guys suck because you kill people!" when the beast courts themselves slaughtered the Okuma wholesale. So they're hypocrites as well.
Regardless, back to the
The assembled shen murmured approval, and the intruders, eyeing the throng, walked swiftly out. The courtiers drifted off. Uncle Hu and Mei-Fei were left alone with the Regents, and Matsuko and Katsuko led them away into the night.
They're Fraternal Twin Kitsune who are massively smug dicks and also
both jointly hold the highest position that a court can have.
After this we switch into First Person Matsuko. Apparently having two Eji remain at one court following the Way of Emerald virtue is strange. Andthe fact that Mei hasn't questioned them is polite. Though the way it's written there isn't even a pause between 'ha ha your dicks are small' and 'so I should tell you about stuff'. We're told it's okay because "being of the beast courts diminishes the way of Kitsune only a little bit". "Diminishes"? So the kitsune themselves are saying they're better than the beast courts.
Well, apparently Luna rewards them for their service by giving them extra tails. (They get 1 tail for every rank they gain above 1st) And each tail they gain doubles their life span, by the time they reach rank 5 they might as well be functionally immortal living, 3200 years. If they survive to get their ninth tail, however, they become
immortal. They also mention that the Kitsune are so dutiful in their service not because Gaia commanded it, but because they're being rewarded with tails for doing well. "We Foxes intend to continue in our affairs until the Sixth Age comes, and if at
possible we shall be running freely as Foxes when the Seventh arrives." Gaia told Bai Mianxi that they would be free in "the last ages", where in theory all of the shapeshifters would be free, since there would be no more conflict. The point of the Kitsune's creation is that in the sixth age Gaia
give them a purpose, their job is to ensure the world gets to that point.
There's a very real feeling that there's almost two kitsune books that got smashed together somehow. One book involves Bai Mianxi being contrite and dutiful. The other book involves smug asshole kitsune trolling the rest of the beast courts until their immortality kicks in.
Of course, there is another gift that makes the many years bearable. We have seen so much death, so much suffering, so many loved ones and things lost forever. And yet - we laugh. We laugh because we must not cry. Let all others fall into Harano and despair - such is not our lost. If a Kitsune must cry, she does so in the privacy of her owned darkened den, her faced pressed to the earth so that her tears fall directly from her eyes to the mother. Others may consider our humor black, vindictive, even malicious. Perhaps it is. I understand that of all the Emerald Mother's children, only one other received this blessing. But it is a noble gift, the gift of laughter. Would that we could share our humor with them, for perhaps then we could bring laughter to all the tribes.
Their tears are not
you. They're for Gaia alone. And the less said about the Nuwisha the better.
Now we switch to Katsuko. When the Kitsune gather, they do so in the most
numbers: one, two, and four. Everyone else in the middle kingdom thinks that four is death, that is because they aren't Kitsune. and if you want you can add another Hengeyokai to make a Sentai, "is that not perfection?"
Among the Beast Courts
Matsuko again. While it is true that most Kitsune serve the Kitsune first and the Courts second. The courts are still worthy of respect. Not all Kitsune who pledge fealty to the Courts do so forever, since they live forever, one "lifetime" is usually enough. Kitsune usually only adhere to the roles of Regent and Seer. They don't like General since they aren't exactly built for fighting. And "what kind of Balladkeepers would we be, considering that we first tasted knowledge in the late Fourth Age?" uhh, the kind that are
Sure the Mokole cheat and can remember everything forever, but actually being that old has to have some value.
Kitsune rarely have moots, since they have enough enemies that doing so would basically be handing them a very large soft target. If they need to get information out they've got a big underground network of contacts that keep everyone in the loop
[quote = Katsuko]We do not have so many "camps" of the sort you see in other Changing Breeds' ranks - for we are the youngest, and we have not had quite so much time to misinterpret our place on the earth and argue what is most "important." We
That said they do have one Camp, Inari's Messengers. Though it's really more of a form of penance for poor service or improper behavior. Or to repay a debt from an elder or sempai. They set aside their own wants and goals and do what is best for the good of all Kitsune.
Treading the World
Apparently the Kitsune believe they are descended from Inari and Ameterasu?
So Japan loves them.
But they acknowledge that they were created in China, not japan. Oh whatever I stopped trying to make sense of this paragraphs ago. There are enough forests here that foxes can hide well enough, there's also a quote that makes no sense. "Hm? Oh,
rumor? Perhaps, and perhaps not. I would not know." What rumor?
More reference to Korea being founded by a Bear. It would have been a province of china long ago "If only the humans there had not foolishly drawn their petty lines and built their petty walls." Apparently Korean Kitsune are expert negotiators for some reason.
North America is full of neat things, and has foxes, so there's plenty of things for a Kitsune to see and do here. South America has 'strange foxes' which are unfamiliar and "Beneath our superior breeding. If Gaia had intended us to intervene in this continent's affairs, she would have placed red foxes there." Since only places with red foxes matter.
A land choked with Kin-jin and territorial werewolves. "Any land which fosters fox-hunting as a pastime is a land of barbarians."
There are foxes here but they're an invasive species and well, kind of screwing everything up. Of course the Bunyip were here and the Kitsune are apparently mystified by them. "It is our hope that by finding and preserving the secrets of the Bunyip, we will strengthen Gaia and atone for the wolves' mistake." Of course they won't tell the Garou those secrets until proper penance has been done. Which judging by the Kitsune's standards, will be never.
No foxes, not worth the time.
Katsuko. "Listen closely and we shall advise you on who are most likely to be your friends, foes or pawns."
Noble and taken with their own Virtue. Their way of doing things doesn't fit with the Kitsune way, but compliments it. "When we operate together, they are the thunder and we are lightning. Such storms are poetically beautiful, and most potent besides."
Fine people, and nowhere near as insufferable as the cats from elsewhere. The fifth age has humbled them.
If you can use them to kill some other servant of Yomi, go right ahead. Just be careful about it
"I... We shall not speak of the Nagah. I am sorry, but we have our reasons." No I have no idea why, maybe Inari really disliked snakes for some reason.
Less hobbled by scruples and human sensibilities with most. They can share a joke with the Kitsune and they share a task with them as well.
"I doubt they could have developed cleverness on their own the way the White-Faced one did, but who are we to criticize?" But, Gaia, argh. They fight great in the water which is soemthing foxes can't do. So they're okay.
Fucking awesome. Tell us more stories mister crow.
Awesome, and worthy of respect.
The more time one spends with the Sunset People, the more one understands Gaia's wisdom in granting us Foxes the gift of Changing. For every error the hengeyokai make, the Sunset People make two more. They are fractious and argumentative, and their lands are filled with angry Garou and their bitter cousins.
If that's the case wouldn't it make sense to put foxes
and not just in the middle kingdoms?
The only ones out of the lot that seem worthy friends are the Corax and the Nu-Isha; if only we could meet with those "kai-otes," perhaps they might be able to explain why the Sunset People misbehave so!
Stop it, pidgin English isn't adorable anymore Hengeyokai.
Dangerous folk, and pretty bad people. You can use them though, just be careful you're not on the wrong side of the deal.
They are exceedingly dangerous and clever, and make poor pawns. They are usually of better genetic stock than most, and since they're mortal, they have the good sense to
after giving up a new Kitsune.
Can I go back to the previous chapter? It was nice there.
Yay changelings! They're great! Kitsune love them!
Uhh, they're ghosts.
"Like trees, they grow across all of Gaia, and like trees they have their distinct uses - both alive and dead. If one must hew a few down to save a forest, so be it." Apparently the only ones who are trustworthy are those that "still walk barefoot on the mother" which is either meant to be poetic or completely bizzare.
The Laws of Heaven
Matsuko again. The Laws of Heaven were spoken to Bai Mianxi by Luna. She drilled them into her head over her year of tutelage until she could recite them in their sleep, then she asked what they meant.
"I am going to teach you the words as often as you wish. I will explain them once. A year from now you will be able to recite them in
sleep, and I will ask you to explain them in your own way."
I command you to destroy that which harms Gaia
The first and most important rule. Do whatever you can, make pacts with whoever you have to, just get it done.
I command you to aid your brothers, your sisters, and that which serves Gaia.
Don't bare your throat to angry wolves and tigers. And don't give all your secrets to crows. Do give your assistance, but they must
I command you to revere your Mother, your Aunts, your Uncles, and our favored servants.
Be humble before the spirits, as they can probably do bad things to you if you don't.
I command you to keep your duty first in your heart, and to listen for my teachings.
Don't give into mortal temptations.
I forbid you to exterminate the humans.
Humans had a purpose once, and they might again, and killing them all would probably break the wheel just as badly.
I forbid you to make war on your brothers and sisters.
I forbid you to break your word.
Nothing is requiring you to GIVE your word of honor. Just to keep it once given.
I forbid you to commit suicide for reasons of honor.
Depriving the world of a Kitsune is apparently a grievous sin. To say nothing of the fact that a life was given for every Kitsune born, so dying needlessly dishonors them.
I free you to do anything else necessary to achieve our goals.
That's the end of this (surprisingly) picture light chapter.
Up Next: Making your own Kitsune, or "May we congratulate you on your good taste?"
Opening of the Eyes
Original SA post
This is the last update for this book, soon we will be free.
No, seriously, explain it to me again, what the fuck am I doing here?
Chapter 8: Opening of the Eyes
So Mei-Fei wakes up and there's a celebration going on outside; a riot of color, clapping, and cheering. She walks outside to ask a Gukutsushi what's going on, to which she replies, "A New fox is being born." And then the twins of smug pop up out of nowhere to finish the sentence, "Be sure to congratulate the father," "Before he leaves."
The Gukutsushi points beneath a willow tree and laughs, when Mei runs over there it turns out it's Uncle Hu!
"Sondok's kit is in a hurry to enter the world, Mei-Fei. Forgive our child's impetuous nature; it has cut short my guardianship." and he dies. Then Mei-Fei discovers that she can't cry, so she stumbles back to the party laughing.
Have I mentioned that I really hate how Kitsune have a racial imperative to not be sad? Because it's dumb as hell.
So you want to pay a Fox. May we congratulate you on your excellent taste? The Kitsune are magical, cunning, practical and proud - the youngest of Gaia's servants, the bright young things of the Bete, the only shapeshifters who don't incite the Delirium in humans, the only Changing Breed to breed true, the sole race to climb up out of beasthood on their own... well we could go on and on. In fact, we will.
it. I really wish this book could climb up out of it's own ass into realm of objectivity once in a while. But no, the Kitsune are the special snowflakes in an entire culture of special snowflakes and they will not let you forget it.
From a Kitsune's birth they're marked as something different. Their birth is supernaturally painful and both parents experience it no matter how distant they are. The mortal parent has a 10% chance of surviving the process, the Kitsune parent has a 90% chance (there's one exception which I'll get to later). It's worth noting that these are independent chances. Both parents can live or both can die.
The book then states that
Changing Breeds are born of loss in some way, and that the Kitsune in particularly flourish despite this tragedy, so that when it comes time to open their eyes they are ready to assume their role as Luna's favorite children.
Kitsune can learn any gift,
gift. They still need to find teachers, though, which is supposed to be the limitation though I think the people who wrote this book forgot that. They can enter the umbra as easily as the Garou. And their crinos/hispo teeth deal Aggravated damage. Also the whole "tails=immortality" thing.
Again they bring up the whole "MY MOTHER IS DEAADDD" thing. Also Kitsune heal like mortals do, they don't regenerate. They don't incite the Delirium, and they can only Fox Frenzy.
There's a Sidebar here about the
Obligatory Abomination Question
. "Never mind the fact that 99 out of 100 Western Vampires have no idea what a Kitsune is, let alone whether one would make a good childe or not - if it moves a Canite will probably try sucking its blood, giving it the Embrace, and showing off his new Blood Bound pet to the prince." Of course Gaia (White Wolf) has something to say about that. If a drop of vitae hits the tongue of a freshly drained Kitsune corpse, they burst into a pillar of flames, as does their sire. It's supposed to be White Wolf basically going 'stop trying to cross-over every god damned thing you twink idiots'. But it comes off as "The Kitsune are so special they kill vampires FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE!"
"Kitsune Parents know instantly when one of their kits is born a Fox" so there aren't any Lost Kits unless their Kitsune parent died before their first change. So apparently Kitsune can't be born to two kinfolk parents.
Human born. They're usually strange, distant children who are sure something's being kept from them. They're almost always Asian. Sharp eyed, slender, manipulative, and hyperactive adolescents. The first change is traumatic but they recover quickly since "they always knew they were special."
Fox-born. Their kit-hoods are harder than other foxes since they lack a parent, which seems to imply that Female Roko just abandon their children.
Metis. The children of two Kitsune. Remember that exception to the 90% survival rate? This is it, each parent has a 50/50 chance to live or die. They're not deformed or sterile either. They're just rare since the cost of losing a Kitsune to birth a Kitsune are very high. They're also fucking
. The Special Snowflakes of the Special Snowflakes of the Special Snowflakes. This is
to be offset by the the fact that they realize they're held to a higher standard and have a crippling fear of failure.
Paths are kitsune auspices. Uniquely they're chosen by the Kitsune themselves during a special Rite. Mechanically this means little as you're unlikely to make an Ahroun with 1 strength anyway.
Each of the paths is tied to an element, but they use the 'corner' elements, lightning, lava, clay, and fog. I don't mind this that much, since it's presented less as "They're so special they get *two* elements" and more "They realize it's more practical to do things this way as they aren't completely alienating anyone."
See Moon there in the middle? Remember that
The Sorcerers, aligned to Lightning. Masters of Magic and talking to spirits. They're slightly wyrm tainted due to those two foxes that stole the gift from the Black Spiral Dancer. Nonetheless they subscribe to the school of using evil against evil, though this makes them somewhat detached from the rest.
"Tell me this - if the way of virtue crossed a very wide stretch of mud, would you leave the path to go around or would you go ahead and get your feet dirty?"
The Warriors, aligned to Lava. They're described as the "Cavaliers" of the kitsune. They act like surgeons, cutting out Gaia's cancers to save the patient. They will not hesitate to kill someone if they have to, but they've got a great respect for life, and will usually go out of their way to save innocents.
"The Sixth Age may well be the promised time for people like you, but that doesn't mean you're entitled to be around to see it."
The Dreamweavers, aligned to Fog. Masters of the mind and illusion, equal parts trickster and healer. They're usually Leaves or Mirrors, but when angered they're perfectly capable of getting in your head and making you jump in front of a bullet train (That's the given example. I didn't make it up)
"Oh, I'm sure 'vehemently virulent' is merely poetic exaggeration. You know how those scientists get when they don't get much fresh air. You're probably perfectly safe right here. Yes?"
The Bard, aligned to Clay. They're the builders and doers, almost directly opposed to the Eji and Doshi. They tell tales and make art, and get along best with the Beast Courts since they care about the ages before Bai Mianxi.
"My dearest General, such a thing was only done once before by Yin Qung-Fa the Staff of Harmony, and even he required the assistance of two Nezumi pallbearers! Do you not know the story? Here, then, let me tell you, and you may analyze his plan and tell me how we shall best imitate it."
The storyteller is encouraged to include the secondary skills of Calligraphy and Origami to make life easier for practitioners of Ju-Fu. "Besides, expert calligraphers are highly respected throughout the East."
There's a sidebar Here on
which is the Kitsune language. It's full of Japanese vocab because it's apparently really hard to form Mandarin tonal inflection with a muzzle.
Batsu are your allies and friends. It's literally the Allies stat from other WOD games with a different name.
This is the Kinfolk stat, except since Kitsune don't invoke the delirium, it can include anyone you consider family.
Contacts, it's Contacts. Only difference is that you don't get 'major' contacts like other people do.
Mentor, though Kitsune can sometimes be adopted as a 'mascot' by a sentai and thus have 5 mentors for the price of one.
That said the five dot example deserves special attention
Apparently Luna Beast Sentai Gaiamon exists in universe, and if you spend enough dots they're your best friends and teach you gifts all the time.
The Kitsune forms are nowhere near as combat effective as Garou are, but they're apparently elegant and beautiful. "So what if they could have been stronger or tougher, or could have wings? Being Kitsune is more important than
, thank you very much." in case you forgot that Kitsune are more important than everyone else. In any of these forms they can manifest one or all of their tails with a gnosis roll agains the gauntlet. though their Crinos through fox forms have to show at least one.
it's apparently comical in appearance, particularly when compared to Glabro. Their body mass remains the same but their ears point, eyes, become thin and slanted, nose lengthens, and whiskers sprout. Kitsune take it rarely as a result.
It's only an inch or two taller than Hitogata, and not much bulkier. It's a half-fox form. Kitsune rarely take it unless for courtly affairs, impressing visitors, or for the comfort of extra fur, but they never do that unless assured of their privacy, for some reason. They can bite for str+1 agg damage but that's usually a last resort.
A wolf sized fox, they've got surprisingly dextrous mouths(?) and some kitsune train themselves to fight with a dagger in this form (for the stat bonuses, probably).
It's a fox. Usually Red, though apparently they're capable of interbreeding with Gray Foxes, but not more exotic breeds. Which is odd since Red foxes are more closely related to Fennecs than Gray foxes, but I'll accept this because it implies that there are Kitsune in Europe and America.
Apparently the Koto Form foxes are beautiful, too.
Gifts Gifts Gifts Gifts Gifts! Kitsune LOVE gifts!
I'll only go over the notable ones.
That said, there's a sidebar here that says that if the storyteller will allow it, Kitsune can take Sorcery paths from WoD: Sorcerer. Since "Hedge magic is very foxy." It's just another way the writer wanted to make foxes special.
Homid Gift. There's not really much to this one beyond the fact that the storyteller is encouraged to roll this one without the players knowledge for "pure Mischief".
Roko Gift. Play dead, to the point that you actually begin to rot.
Shinju Gift. You're so self important that you can impose your will over *anyone*, even other Hengeyokai. They'll automatically assume you're above them in whatever hierarchy they're in.
Blessing the Blade
Doshi Gift. Binding a spirit into a blade to deal Aggravated damage. You can either use it in combat, or prepare a blade outside of combat. You need to have a specific enemy in mind when you 'cast' it, and wrap the blade in cloth or leather inscribed with the targets name to hold the spirit. Flavorful as hell and I love it.
Another Doshi Gift. This is the gift that they stole from the Black Spirals. They're very careful to avoid using hengeyokai, or wolves, or anyone's kinfolk... or humans.. usually.
Eji Gift. Calling upon an element to create a lethal bolt of lightning, fire, ice, wind or (the best part) more exotic element, depending on which spirit taught it to you. You want to launch a bolt of deadly molten plastic? Go right ahead. Bolt of rusty screws? More power to you. Do you want to fire a tree trunk at someone for 7 aggravated damage? There's the forest, find a spirit.
Call of the Dead
Eji Gift. Spend a Rage and Gnosis point, and make a difficult Stamina + Occult roll. Depending on your successes people don't take damage, they're just set to a certain damage level. If you roll 5 successes, they're set to wounded from Aggravated damage, if they're human they just flat out die.
Another Eji Gift(they got the fun ones). You need a large amount of a particular element to do so (Strong wind, bonfire, pool or a stream), and you can summon a dragon. It's stats are based on your successes. at 3 successes it's 15 feet long, has 15 health levels, 6 soak dice, deals 6 Agg on attacks, and can attack twice a turn. You roll
to summon it, the stat you have no reason to keep low.
Gukutsushi Gift. The bard touches a target and they're overcome with feelings of revulsion and defilement.
Kataribe Gift. The Kitsune beings a tale, then calls the dead to bear witness and finish it. It compels the truth, not cooperation, but most dead spirits are eager to be avenged and will tell the truth to see it done.
General Gift. You fit in anywhere. If you go to the police station, everyone thinks you've been a cop for years. If you go to a Party meeting, you're the faithful, if dull, member. You need to be at least somewhat appropriate in costume, and you have to be acting the part. But if you're a janitor you an sweep the same patch of floor for 3 years and no one will notice or care.
"The Most Elegant Sorcery Ever Devised", using Ju-Fu a kitsune can set aside excess Gnosis for use later in the form of Ju-Fu. What's more, spirits don't hesitate to be bound into Ju-Fu since they're by definition temporary. The paper must be 'natural' and easily destroyed. Photocopier paper or magazine pages are out of the question! Similarly the ink must be natural as well, squid or octopus ink work. Blood, lampblack, ocher, and egg yolk work too. Most of these are Origami, some are described as Ofuda charms.
Flaming Crane? Ho Hum, that shit just happens every day when you're the most awesome fox ever.
They can make food appear in a paper cup, turn an origami animal into a real animal, trap a target inside a room until the Kami is destroyed(walk out a door, you climb back in through a window), or just toss a charm someone from the umbra and they get abducted into the umbra to join you.
There are only two rites given,
The Opening of the Eyes
which is performed on a Kitsune shortly before their first change to help them adapt, "soon they are as mirthful as any other fox". The other is the
Rite of the Crossroads
which is the rite depicted in the chapter image, where a kid chooses their Path. You set down four bowls of water at a crossroad or doorway, say the proper prayers, and each of the bowls turns into one of the elements. I don't mean figuratively. The kit must reach into the bowl of their choice and it hurts like HELL for Eji and Doshi. At the end they're officially rank 1 in their new auspice.
To outsiders, the foxes say that they value Wisdom, Honor and Glory, just as the Werewolves do. This is truthful, but it is misleading, because they're Foxes. Better translations of their terms for Renown are below.
That said, Kitsune don't
about renown, renown is something the other shapeshifters do that the Kitsune have to follow to be polite. What they
care about is rank, because rank means more tails.
you need renown to gain rank and therefore tails, so they should care about renown.
The book only has rules for Kitsune of five tails or less. It doesn't need to go into more detail than that because "No player character is going to earn his sixth tail by the time the Apocalypse comes." Thanks for stopping us from having fun for the sake of your
in a game with shapeshifting fox people, Hengeyokai.
Each of these entries has a section going into the analysis of the Japanese characters used, since those are important. I'm honestly somewhat leery that they're even using the correct characters but I don't want to try to extract them since they're superimposed under the text.
It's Wisdom. But Foxes see it more as "Intelligence, cleverness, and ingenuity" The ideal of Chie is to get two enemies to kill each other while you're out getting a drink 3 countries away.
Honor. But more Virtue, Ethical Character, or Moral Excellence. It's the Kitsune's unwillingness to compromise what it is to be a Kitsune, and unwavering dedication to the Foxes' goals.
Glory. but "radiance or magnificence suits it better." Which makes me wonder if they're the kind of assholes who use "Ore-Sama" (My Most Esteemed Self) as a pronoun. Foxes don't give a damn about battle prowess, except as far as it makes them look better to the other Hengeyokai who actually do care. Kagayaki is given to a Kitsune "Who do 'good deeds' in the sight of anyone that matters".
At the end of the chapter is an Experience chart that shows that Kitsune get out-of-clan gifts at the cost that most other Hengeyokai pay for general Hengeyokai gifts. 4/5ths of the cost. cause they're special.
Appendix: Nobles among Nobles
As one final fuck you before we're sent off into the realm of sample characters and Iconic NPCs, we get this.
Mei-Fei followed Katsuko along the trail, and knelt where she was bid - at a spot where a fox run intersected the footpath. The Moon-Saint vanished into the trees to her right, and the Nogitsune patiently waited for the test(it must be another test, she thought) to begin.
At last, the shadows on her left flickered. She looked up expecting the Sun-Devil, but met a darker gaze.
He carried four blackened iron bowls. Without a sound he set them down around her - left, right, before and behind - along the paths but outside the crossroads.
"Bow to your Imperial Mother."
Mei pressed her face to the soil.
"Bow to your noble Aunt."
Mei stood and honored the Moon.
"Four bowls. Your life rests at the bottom of one. Choose."
Mei looked at each in turn. She saw the lightning; she saw the clouds. She saw the river bottom; she saw the fires of the earth.
At her feet lay a fifth black bowl - a bowl her father had not set there - full of liquid silver, and she reached for it.
Yup, even the POV character is better than you. A Special Snowflake five times over, she has her own auspice.
Underground Shaman: Doshi
A fortuneteller, medium, herbalist, midwife, hedge wizard, whatever people think you are, play the part. You need to find the men and women still living the true way "monkeys
as they should be
, not the savaged hulks crippled by Weaver and Wyrm." So, what, you're meant to find the people living naked in the trees eating bananas? You can't keep saying that we've strayed from the path and
say what the path is supposed to be? Of course if you do that you become preachy, so maybe it's best to just
not bring it up in the first place
Neighborhood Hero: Eji
It's werefox Jackie Chan, they don't even try to hide it.
Fox Woman: Gukutsushi
Both of your parents were Kitsune, both of your parents lived. You were the wonder of wonders - the most special secret of their court, the mascot of their sentai - even the Dragon's Darling. Every Fox of any status peeked in on you; in short, you grew up spoiled rotten, witty, winsome, and too charming for anybody's good.
It's supposed to be a Femme Fatale but I don't care anymore.
Ears of Inari: Kataribe
A sneaky spy fox, that's basically it. The description for this one is even shorter than Foxy Chan.
Kitsune of Note
Kitsune are 'of note', at least to themselves, and the breed itself is so young that few Fox deeds have been forgotten. Therefore, this would be a very long chapter if a Nine-Tails had a hold of it."
She's probably still alive, as human sorcerers couldn't actually kill her. They did almost kill her and she escaped to a human shrine to Inari, where she was laid upon his altar. Then something happened and now she's living with Luna on the moon.
The Prince Inari
He... exists, and the Kitsune think he's fucking amazing. Apparently he 'left the world' by walking into a shrine to Inari at Kyoto and just disappearing. No one knows where he went, even the Caern Guardian, which is apparently quite a feat. Most Kitsune think he's one and the same with the Shinto Deity now.
Again, a Japanese deity, this time the God of Good Fortune, who is apparently also a Kitsune. This one is just kind of there.
Trung Water-Walker a.k.a. Sukuna-Bikona, Wind-Chaster, Alistair-Mittleham-Trent, Argonaut, Yellow-Dust-Boy, Rollaway Potato, Spicy-Joe-China...(etc)
Apparently when the Westerners first came to Korea he snuck on board one of their ships and traveled the world four times over before returning home, sharing stories of what he saw. Then he went back and is still traveling today.
Shining-Cresent, Flame-White-Crane, Death-of-Ice, Broken-Sky-Ashes
I can't be sure, but this is probably Mei-Fei's Father. A spoiled rotten Shinju, of course. He saw the silver bowl too, apparently, but it disappeared as soon as he touched it, so he reached for lightning as well, "sure that it marked him special even among Foxes".
His sentai caught up with a Kuei-Jin Wu in San Diego and lost their Pillar in battle. When they were finally able to try and collect his body they found a young woman trying to revive him with CPR, and she did not run when they showed her their war forms. Anyways, without a pillar the Sentai disbanded, and Flame-White-Crane and Sondok(see?) stayed behind. He was trying to bring her back to China with him, but suddenly she was pregnant and of course she died and now he lives like a hermit in a cave. Sound familiar?
And that's it!
That's how Hengeyokai ends.
Honestly, I like the Kitsune as a concept. The first chapter actually made them seem interesting and playable, if only slightly full of themselves.
Then I read the rest of the book.
Revised made great strides to excise as much of the "WE'RE BETTER THAN YOU!" as they could, while also giving them some extra mechanical benefits to cover for the fact that they can't really take a hit. I really don't have an issue with Kitsune being able to learn any gift as they're supposed to be the 'magic-y splat' and they still have to pay XP for all of those gifts, and find teachers, meaning the ST can stop them from learning every gift under the sun if he wants to.
I do have a problem with them not only thinking that they're better than everyone else, but to also have the book scream it at me on every page. I hope the 20th anniversary Changing Breeds book that's coming out later this year continues the trend of 'not making them smug assholes', but we'll see.