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Spheres and "Ninja" Rotes": Go Kamisori Gama and Kuji-in

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  • Spheres and "Ninja" Rotes": Go Kamisori Gama and Kuji-in

    The Go Kamisori Gama were never given much attention beyond a small write-up in Dragons of the East (though M20 at least gives them a passing mention), but the society of modern "ninjas" still offered some very interesting ideas and themes. One of the most interesting ideas, for me, was the use of the Kuji-in mantras and mudras, a form of active meditation using hand positions. The write-up seems to confuse the term "kuji-in" with "kuji-kiri", a related practice of using hand signs in certain Japanese religious practices and martial arts (primarily ninjutsu), but that error actually works here, due to the book describing the former (in-universe) as much more akin to the latter practice. Regardless of whether or not one refers to it as Kuji-in or Kuji-kiri, there are nine "mudras" or hand postions. The number is highly symbolic in taoist philosophy, and for Mage itself, nine works as a reference point for something very significant: the Spheres.

    Dragons of The East describes, in vague detail, the use of these hand positions as a primary (and possibly only) Focus for many in the Go Kamisori Gama, lending huge significance to their use by the group in terms of Awakened utility and identity. The mystical overtones of the number nine are likely not lost on the group, and the uses of the nine hand positions are described as having effects that could span the breadth of the abilities granted by the nine Spheres. I point out the numerical match between the signs for a reason here; as Foci, these signs could conceivably be used in sequence to produce varied effects in the form of Rotes.

    Why should I attach the concept firmly to the Spheres as well as their Paradigm, though? I don't necessarily need to, but it fits the canon fluff and I'll tell you why: the only write-up for this group mentions the number of Kuji-ji (or Kuji-kiri, if you want to be a bit more accurate about the real world practices) that the group uses: exactly eighty one. That's a lot more than nine, but more importantly, it's also nine multiplied BY nine, which makes it seem like there was some intentional allusion to "multiplying" the hand positions in some fashion. That brings the concept of two related sets of nine to mind, and the only two sets of nine we have at hand are the hand positions and the Spheres. Could it be that the 81 "kuji-ji" are Rotes used by the Go Kamisori Gama that employ a sequence or combination of nine hand positions, corresponding with the Spheres and effects they're meant to bring forth? Dragons of The East stays silent on the subject, mostly due to lack of space for more fluff.

    With all that said, I'd like to propose putting an actual system or proscribed method for using these hand positions in place, possibly consisting of nine-symbol sequences or something similar* that works with the canon of 81 "kuji-ji" of the organization and the nine hand positions of the genuine practice, with an eye towards making a meaningful use of each symbol's associated Sphere/Theme. The issue with that is, firstly, I'm having some trouble matching a Sphere to each position, as they can be interpreted a bit loosely in their essential meaning. I've just begun to look into this, so anyone more familiar with a related practice, such as Shugendo, would be a welcome help. The point of this is to, with as much respect to culture as possible (by WoD standards, at least), give the modern faux-Shinobi some fluff that feels like crunch and vice versa. An under-written splat that interests me always seems to be asking for some homemade expansion, at least to me. Hopefully I'm not the only one that finds this group so fascinating.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuji-kiri

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kuji-in



    *I realize that the mention of ninjas using hand positions to evoke magical effects seems reminiscent of certain anime and manga, especially properties like Naruto. This might seem silly to you, and could be used in silly ways if so desired (Sexy Jutsu!), but it fits the Go Kamisori Gama and their "ninjas as portrayed in fiction" Paradigm. They aren't the ninja of myth or the shadowed past. Why? Because those ninjas never existed. They were a construct of the Japanese popular imagination, and simply got more popular from there. The Go Kamisori Gama write-up in Dragons of The East even spends precious page space explaining and emphasizing this. They aren't the Koga or Iga clans, fighting old feuds with shuriken and poison darts because of tradition. They're modern Mages who found the ninja mythology and made it theirs, Paradigm and all. They're not just some ninjas; they're THE Ninjas, because they called dibs on the mythology and figured out how to make it work. They're mercenary at heart, mystical as well as pragmatic, and utilize whatever power or tool is necessary to get the job, however dirty, done. And really, isn't that what a ninja is and does at the end of the day?
    Last edited by AzraelFirestorm; 05-16-2018, 02:36 PM.


    “Nobody is purely good or purely evil. Most of us are in-between. There are moths that explore the day and butterflies that play at night.”
    - Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute The Sun
    (She/Her)

  • #2
    Aren't they supposed to be an explicitly technomantic faction? I thought that was how they were presented as sort of "Etherite Ninjas" that there's a "SCIENCE" behind everything they do with heavy use of hightech props

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Lian View Post
      Aren't they supposed to be an explicitly technomantic faction? I thought that was how they were presented as sort of "Etherite Ninjas" that there's a "SCIENCE" behind everything they do with heavy use of hightech props
      The Technocrat Etherite/Iteration-X-style group among the Five Metal Dragons is the Zaibatsu. They are related by association to another "ninja" group, the Okamoto clan, through Strike Force Zero, as the Zaibatsu are the likely providers of the equipment used by the organization, but the Go Kamisori Gama are mostly independent of that group's history. The Go Kamisori Gama writeup in Dragons of The East refers the reader to Demon Hunter X for their (limited) high tech stuff, should they require it, so one can assume they get their gadgets from the same place, despite being unrelated in their "ninja" activities.
      ***

      Any thoughts or feedback on the Kuji-ji/Kuji-kiri relation to Spheres or Rotes would be most welcome.

      - Az
      Last edited by AzraelFirestorm; 05-13-2018, 09:17 PM. Reason: Typos


      “Nobody is purely good or purely evil. Most of us are in-between. There are moths that explore the day and butterflies that play at night.”
      - Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute The Sun
      (She/Her)

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by AzraelFirestorm View Post

        The Technocrat Etherite/Iteration-X-style group among the Five Metal Dragons is the Zaibatsu. They are related by association to another "ninja" group, the Okamoto clan, through Strike Force Zero, as the Zaibatsu are the likely providers of the equipment used by the organization, but the Go Kamisori Gama are mostly independent of that group's history. The Go Kamisori Gama writeup in Dragons of The East refers the reader to Demon Hunter X for their (limited) high tech stuff, should they require it, so one can assume they get their gadgets from the same place, despite being unrelated in their "ninja" activities.
        ***

        Any thoughts on the Kuji-ji/Kuji-kiri relation to Spheres or Rotes is most welcome.

        I don't mean they are a part of the 5 metal dragons. I mean their "Paradigm" seems to be "science" as in if you had to ask them how hand signs work they'd explain something about hypnosis and biofeed back. That they have very mystic looking practices but the underlying explanation is more in keeping with modern sciences than the Akashic brotherhood.

        That's my thought and how that equates to rotes and playing a GKG is that I'd treat GKG as having the same issues with surpassing as Technomancers, even if it looks like its just hand signs and advanced training(and it is) they are coming at it from a more Technocratically influenced perspective. They don't see themselves as magicians. They don't do Ninja magic. They are just highly trained people who have access to the right tools.

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Lian View Post
          Thoughts.
          Sorry if my being confused by your reference to a technomantic approach to magic was distracting. On the subject of the GKG, you seem to be focused on their Paradigm here, which is fine for the sake of discussion. Paradigm informs the nature of the magic(k). They can easily be read as technomantic, or at least tech-friendly and extremely pragmatic.

          That, however, doesn't change that they have 81 hand sign techniques based on a real life practice, which they canonically use as a primary Focus for magic(k), whether they consider them scientific or not. The 81 unknown/unwritten techniques based on real world hand signs and how they're presented, both as a system/practice and for descriptive purposes (especially for someone playing said organization), are the true issues here. Sure, the GKG employ Enlightened technology from time to time. I'd be surprised if they didn't use whatever they had access to. Whether it's technocentric or mystical, though, their Paradigm is still essentially "modern ninjas, as informed by popular fiction" that use the hand signs as Foci (at least) in a way we don't actually have a clear understanding of, except knowing that there's at least 81 different ones using only 9 known symbols (linked in the OP).

          I'm mainly curious about the more fundamental things involving their practices here, such as which Spheres/effects would fit the meaning or purpose of which hand positions, or how one would use said hand signs to cast their magick. Do they use the signs in a sort of combination, giving us the 81 positions mentioned in Dragons of the East, or are there simply 9 variants of the 9 positions? What should/could casting a rote using them look like? If they're technomantic in nature, do they function as mental foci for effects explained using SCIENCE(!), like psionic abilities, mesmerism or even body control that strains belief (Life rotes)? Are they used for their more mundane, real life purpose of meditative practice as well? What are the actual limits to these as Foci; what can and can't a master of the Kuji-ji do with them? Whatever the ninjas of popular fiction can do? Less? More?

          The books leave most of this to our imagination, which is great for daydreaming. It's not that great when you want to play a Go Kamisori Gama mage as a player and neither you or your Storyteller knows how to describe what you're doing or how, though. Hence this thread.
          Last edited by AzraelFirestorm; 05-14-2018, 03:27 PM.


          “Nobody is purely good or purely evil. Most of us are in-between. There are moths that explore the day and butterflies that play at night.”
          - Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute The Sun
          (She/Her)

          Comment


          • #6
            Necro'ing this for further discussion!

            As I'd previously mentioned, the Go Kamisori Gama have 81 "effects" (which are possibly proper Rotes) that can be employed using their nine hand signs. That raises a particular question:

            What are those Effects/Rotes? What could they be, or look like?

            I'm trying to make this group playable, on par with the more fleshed-out Disparates. So far, I've got some basic Rote ideas that I'm using between 1-3 hand signs and a corresponding number of Spheres for, mostly to recreate some of the more notable abilities of fictional ninjas, but nothing approaching a final draft.

            I'm curious to see what you would include in the abilities of mages using the Paradigm of "The Ninja of Fiction". If you have ideas, I definitely want to hear them!

            Bonus points: Ideas for ninja Tools and Wonders, ranging from the mystic and traditional to the modern bleeding edge. What should a ninja carry? What could they be using?
            Last edited by AzraelFirestorm; 06-07-2019, 02:06 PM.


            “Nobody is purely good or purely evil. Most of us are in-between. There are moths that explore the day and butterflies that play at night.”
            - Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute The Sun
            (She/Her)

            Comment


            • #7
              Well, I see 2 options here. The signs have a meaning attached to them. So you could relate the meaning of the sign with the intention of the effect (power sign to damage spells, healing sign for protection /healing spells..).

              Or you can find a way of relating this meanings to the spheres. Power might be Forces, Healing might be Life. This seems more difficult, because of the vague meanings. Just an idea.
              Is this for a character? Also, do you want to use nahd signs for all the spells?

              About the equipment, one of the most important things about a ninja is being able to walk undetected.
              So, an invisible wonder, or even better just an effect, is very nice.

              Comment


              • #8
                It seems to me Ninja mages evolve from Japanese awakened appropriating certain secrets from the Akashic Brotherhood, the sacred Mudras, and a handful of proto Choristers, but diluted and intrepreted through a specific cultural lens so their general craft culture has very little to do with ancient Indian and Chinese secrets.

                I think it would have been more fun if the Kamisuri-gama were a bigger thing, like a Tradition/convention/Craft. They could be a good middle ground between Traditions and Conventions with how they were tied with government and official powers, but also using arcane secrets. It has so much potential. But they have to concede awakened percentages to other groups. But It makes me want to see a reshuffle of which groups became Traditions and Conventions.

                They could be a fun worldwide Spy/Martial Artists/Assassin mixture, that is present in every continent but has ancestral holdings in Japan.

                Hell they could have made them a full on spin off of the Euthanatos, got the ancient indian Mudra link, and the whole choosing who dies mystic assassin vibe that also embraces modern tools and spycraft.


                It is a time for great deeds!

                Comment


                • #9
                  I have an entire document dedicated to such rotes, do you need it ?


                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by spider_one View Post
                    I have an entire document dedicated to such rotes, do you need it ?
                    I'd be much obliged, yes. That's awesome!


                    “Nobody is purely good or purely evil. Most of us are in-between. There are moths that explore the day and butterflies that play at night.”
                    - Suzy Kassem, Rise Up and Salute The Sun
                    (She/Her)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Yes please to the ninja rotes.

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