Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Fixing the Wu-Keng

Collapse
X
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Fixing the Wu-Keng

    I know Brucato has made it quite clear they won't be showing up again since they were horribly transphobic, but does anyone think they could have been fixed or redeemed to be less offensive? I know the Wu-Nung was supposed to a splinter group of some kind but beyond a reference in a wiki I don't know much about them.

    So does anyone have any ideas or are the Wu-Keng just a lost cause and a terrible idea?

  • #2
    Originally posted by Weirdboyz View Post
    I know Brucato has made it quite clear they won't be showing up again since they were horribly transphobic, but does anyone think they could have been fixed or redeemed to be less offensive? I know the Wu-Nung was supposed to a splinter group of some kind but beyond a reference in a wiki I don't know much about them.

    So does anyone have any ideas or are the Wu-Keng just a lost cause and a terrible idea?
    *Googles "Wu Keng Mage"*

    Oh Boi

    So honestly maybe remove the whole thing where their infernal patrons have forced them to "become transgender" (whatever that means). It just is so... no.

    Instead it could be reworked so that the Wu Keng are the servants of spirits which go beyond human comprehension, and it could be mentioned that some among them attempt to learn more about their incomprehensible patrons by dabbling in social presentations which transcend traditional norms and boundaries, including (but not limited to) non-binary and androgynous presentations of gender. M20 already talks about how this sort of thing has a longstanding presence in a bunch of mystical traditions. Within Norse mythology certain magic can only be performed by a woman, so men would take on an effeminate presentation to "get into the spirit of things" so to speak. Among some Native American tribes you have Twin Spirit people (a spiritualistic explanation of people who don't fit with their assigned gender is that they contain both a male and a female spirit, and therefore will have an unusual mix of behaviours), who are held as having mystical significance. A craft of infernalist mages who toy with this would just be another log on the fire.

    As a side-note, you could write a shelf full of books about how "othered" people have always held a supernatural significance in society, for good and ill. You have the widowed elderly woman at the edge of society who is seen as a witch, the pagans who are seen as satanists and wizards, queer and intersex people pushed into a role of occult mysticism, people from foreign lands or minority groups selling their "exotic secrets" to survive... I mean it makes a lot of sense! If you're a powerless person, you're going to take whatever niche you can, and play up your wisdom and otherness. And if you're aiming to attack such groups, it makes sense to magnify any fears of them having occult powers and using them for evil.
    Last edited by 11twiggins; 06-03-2018, 05:50 PM.

    Comment


    • #3
      I have seen a writeup (though, sadly, I do not remember its source) fixing Wu-Keng by making them non-infernal. Basically, eastern counterpart to Verbena: cunning folk mistrusted by general population and condemned by officials. Their avatars were more antagonistic than for average awakened, constantly testing mage and provoking their self-improvement.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Weirdboyz View Post
        I know Brucato has made it quite clear they won't be showing up again since they were horribly transphobic, but does anyone think they could have been fixed or redeemed to be less offensive? I know the Wu-Nung was supposed to a splinter group of some kind but beyond a reference in a wiki I don't know much about them.

        So does anyone have any ideas or are the Wu-Keng just a lost cause and a terrible idea?
        I wouldn't say they were transphobic, the problem was they didn't make sense since they were a group of mages that didn't really know they were infernalists, and it didn't make sense they were only born male sexed. They were wed as concubines to the Yama Kings, but it didn't make sense why they were only from those born with a male sex, since there was no reason they wouldn't be female sexed Wu-Keng.

        Their infernal pact expired so it should have been okay to include them again as a craft with initially shady past, and include those born both with male and female genitals. It just doesn't make sense to assume only those with penises awaken. They could have made them say more like the Black Furies and an all feminine group that would be fine. I don't find an issue with them having a shady past.

        Complexity is a good thing for me. Its more offensive for me to not allow minority groups to have a shady past. Its silly to only allow what European males to have grey areas and shady areas.

        And their original past is more of an NPC domain, its not meant to be a nice thing that they started as a cult where they force young people to marry demon lords and force their sexual identity. Modern Wu Keng would be different in that they are free, that is the fix you need. Its interesting to have some Wu-Keng for instance only forced into their position as a professional slavery point, maybe they break free from the pact and now are free to have their own name and be what they want, but their understanding of magic is strictly feminine. Its an interesting thought exercise.


        It is a time for great deeds!

        Comment


        • #5
          It could be interesting to make these "Demons" they serve be their own Avatars. They've simply a small but powerful craft with an unusual set of rituals for bringing in new Apprentices, which elevate the Avatar to a potent and cruel taskmaster. Wu Keng tend to have high Avatar ratings (thanks to selective acquisition of Apprentices), highly manifest Avatars, and a complicated relationship with their "Master".

          For the Wu Keng, Awakening (or Initiation into their ranks for those who have Awakened already) is a sort of marriage between the mortal and the superhuman. Common Paradigms include We Are Not Men and All Power Comes from Spirits. For them, magick is an act of god-bonding, paying chiminage to an internal demi-god in order to gain their favour. In their view, to reach Ascension is to become one with your "husband" and reach unity.

          Originally the Wu Keng were solely male, however it could not go ignored that other groups of Mages did include women. Now naturally mages other than the Wu Keng are cannibals, feeding on celestial corpses and stealing divine might (don't hold it against them) which is not rightly theirs, but it must be possible for a woman to be married in their tradition and become Wu Keng...

          With regards to the gender thing, I would have their ceremonies involve some cross-dressing, such as them dressing as a bride or wife (appropriate traditional garb) when dealing with their "husband" within a sanctum. Cross-dressing is a matter of gender expression, as opposed to gender identity of course. Most cross-dressers are cis after all*. Some of the Wu Keng are trans women, but many Crafts and Traditions have trans people among their ranks.

          Eldagusto I don't think anyone is suggesting that it's bad for any group outside of "European males" to be presented as morally ambiguous. The Crafts each have their own personal problems which writeups don't tend to shy away from. And since Guide to the Technocracy diversity and inclusion has been important within the Technocracy, with them being framed as *more* progressive than the Traditions on some issues. So the de facto villains of the setting are presented as being more racially diverse within their power structure than the de facto heroes. Mage has a nuanced track record here. It's just a bunch of groups of humans with supernatural abilities, and those groups all have their upsides and downsides...

          I think the problem is when a morally grey or evil group is poorly written, and that group is Asian or Indigenous etc. it comes across as especially cringey, and risks being interpreted as racist (although I'm certain in most cases this wasn't the author's intent!). Writing a group of infernalist trans Chinese cultists is... tricky. I think it's a great thing to write about, but I think it's also a task which is above many writers. It would be bad if writers in Mage played it safe and never broached these issues, but it's not easy stuff to write well. And if you do a bad job of explaining your trans chinese demon-worshiper idea, it's hardly shocking when a proportion of your audience think it's racist or transphobic or embarrassing.

          *This can be tricky to understand, so think of it like this. A male cross-dresser puts on "women's clothes". A trans woman doesn't put on "women's clothes", she puts on, well, her own clothes. In the case of the Wu Keng they would be consciously adopting a woman's dress for a ritual, symbolically representing a woman for a while (much as a man "becomes" a woman onstage in Shakespeare), rather than actually becoming a woman.
          Last edited by 11twiggins; 06-03-2018, 06:57 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            You either make a Craft focused on gender stuff and how it relates to mysticism or you make a distinctly Chinese infernalist group. Marrying them is only gonna be a bad time.


            Call me Regina or Lex.

            Female pronouns for me, please.

            Comment


            • #7
              On the one hand Transitioning for Power is a legitimate Occult belief throughout the world.. on the other hand I don't know if it could be handled well. I definately think removing the infernalism part is a good thing

              Comment


              • #8
                @11twiggins

                Pretty much my thoughts exactly. Axeing the infernalism and forced crossdressing is a must, I think. Their elaborate social dynamic with spirits, on the otherhand, is one of the reasons why I kind of liked the Wu-Keng, faults and all, and thought it was a terrible that it was played off as an analogue for an abusive marriage.

                So instead of that, perhaps the marriage between mage and spirit is a harking back, or homage, to ancient legends involving Chinese female shamans who pacified destructive spirits using poetry (Writings, inscriptions and runes), singing (Voice and vocalizations), placating (Offerings and sacrifices), intimidation (Social domination), and of course, marriage (Group rites) to protect their agrarian communities. Perhaps originally it was believed that only cis-women could perform these rites, but over time it was definitively proven that transwoman and male crossdressers could do them just as well, and they've been accepted in the Craft ever since. Regardless, the spirit husbands, which I imagine would either be the mage's Avatar or ancient spirits that have long been associated with the Wu-Keng, only care about their wives gender expression and are indifferent towards anatomy. So as long as the mage respects and reenacts ancient courtship and marriage customs, the spirit will in turn use its powers to help them heal the sick (Life), quell storms (Forces), grant prosperity for a community (Entropy), and in general not be a disruptive trouble-maker and ensure that other spirits don't either (Spirit). Basically, its magic gained through martial quid quo pro and trying to have a healthy relationship with an ancient extradimensional being, which I think is a pretty interesting idea.

                Wu-Keng
                Affinity Spheres – Spirit; Entropy, Forces, Life
                Paradigm – All Power Comes from God, Ancient Wisdom is the Key, Back the Golden Age and Divine Order and Earthly Chaos
                Common Practices – God-Bonding, High-Ritual Magick, Medicine Work, Shamanism, and Witchcraft
                Common Instruments – Brews and Concoctions, Dances and Movement, Fashion, Prayers and Innovations, Offerings and Sacrifices, Sex and Sexuality, Writings, Inscriptions and Runes

                Anyways, hopefully this is at least less offensive to the Chinese and transgender people than the writeup in Wu-Keng was. Not that that's an insanely difficult feat.
                Last edited by Weirdboyz; 06-04-2018, 03:52 AM.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Weirdboyz View Post
                  @11twiggins

                  Pretty much my thoughts exactly. Axeing the infernalism and forced crossdressing is a must, I think. Their elaborate social dynamic with spirits, on the otherhand, is one of the reasons why I kind of liked the Wu-Keng, faults and all, and thought it was a terrible that it was played off as an analogue for an abusive marriage.

                  So instead of that, perhaps the marriage between mage and spirit is a harking back, or homage, to ancient legends involving Chinese female shamans who pacified destructive spirits using poetry (Writings, inscriptions and runes), singing (Voice and vocalizations), placating (Offerings and sacrifices), intimidation (Social domination), and of course, marriage (Group rites) to protect their agrarian communities. Perhaps originally it was believed that only cis-women could perform these rites, but over time it was definitively proven that transwoman and male crossdressers could do them just as well, and they've been accepted in the Craft ever since. Regardless, the spirit husbands, which I imagine would either be the mage's Avatar or ancient spirits that have long been associated with the Wu-Keng, only care about their wives gender expression and are indifferent towards anatomy. So as long as they mage respects and reenacts ancient courtship and marriage customs, the spirit will in turn use its powers to help them heal the sick (Life), quell storms (Forces), grant prosperity for a community (Entropy), and in general not be a disruptive trouble-maker and ensure that other spirits don't either (Spirit). Basically, its magic gained through martial quid quo pro and trying to have a healthy relationship with an ancient extradimensional being, which I think is a pretty interesting idea.

                  Wu-Keng
                  Affinity Spheres – Spirit; Entropy, Forces, Life
                  Paradigm – All Power Comes from God, Ancient Wisdom is the Key, Back the Golden Age and Divine Order and Earthly Chaos
                  Common Practices – God-Bonding, High-Ritual Magick, Medicine Work, Shamanism, and Witchcraft
                  Common Instruments – Brews and Concoctions, Dances and Movement, Fashion, Prayers and Innovations, Offerings and Sacrifices, Sex and Sexuality, Writings, Inscriptions and Runes

                  Anyways, hopefully this is at least less offensive to the Chinese and transgender people than the writeup in Wu-Keng was. Not that that's an insanely difficult feat.
                  Nice! This is a good list for the Practice. One thing I think the Crafts are a good opportunity for is coming up with Mages with really niche or restricted, but interesting, Paradigms. It would be boring if every Ecstatic had the same Paradigm, but if all of the Wu Keng (150 people active in our realm?) believed that magick came from their "husband" then that would be intriguing. Smaller groups can have more coherent and tightly knit ideologies after all.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I like the idea that the Wu Keng are a Craft that recently freed themselves from the baggage of being Concubine Witch Slaves. The only thing I would change about their past is I would have it they forced awakened of both sexes to identify as female rather than only those born male to become female.

                    Its supposed to be horrifying. This is a horror setting, its appropriate for the group to have a disturbing chilling history where a cult sold their children to Demon Lords for power. I think it more emphasizes the freedom and agency of the current Craft as now they have the freedom to be what they want. I think it is a very interesting to have the newest generation of the Craft focusing on being free from the baggage of the older generations. Give them slight touches of dark secrets they stole from their old masters, but now they are free to focus on the folk magic and dealing with spirits as something besides emissaries of arranged demon marriages.

                    Though the idea brought up earlier in this thread that you could have their demon lords be their Aggressive proactive Avatars' Face is also very interesting. If I were to completely redo them that would be a cool way to go.

                    There was a Wu Keng in the Time of Judgement Novel Ascension, and she was pretty interesting. She talked about the precursors of the Wu Keng would have been more like Dreamspeakers.


                    It is a time for great deeds!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
                      I like the idea that the Wu Keng are a Craft that recently freed themselves from the baggage of being Concubine Witch Slaves. The only thing I would change about their past is I would have it they forced awakened of both sexes to identify as female rather than only those born male to become female.

                      Its supposed to be horrifying. This is a horror setting, its appropriate for the group to have a disturbing chilling history where a cult sold their children to Demon Lords for power. I think it more emphasizes the freedom and agency of the current Craft as now they have the freedom to be what they want. I think it is a very interesting to have the newest generation of the Craft focusing on being free from the baggage of the older generations. Give them slight touches of dark secrets they stole from their old masters, but now they are free to focus on the folk magic and dealing with spirits as something besides emissaries of arranged demon marriages.

                      Though the idea brought up earlier in this thread that you could have their demon lords be their Aggressive proactive Avatars' Face is also very interesting. If I were to completely redo them that would be a cool way to go.
                      That could be good. A sordid history is always interesting, and a Craft which has only recently rebelled and freed itself from some infernal power is a cool idea.

                      But I like the idea of their Avatars being their "Demons" because it unifies their central theme (concubines of a demon) with a core concept in Mage (the Avatar, and the Avatar as a mentor), whilst also allowing them to play with other groups. If they serve actual dark Umbrood, or some other dark spiritual beings, then that severely limits your ability to use them in a Disparates or Traditions game without them being interpreted immediately as villains. If they're interacting with their own inner god, then that won't look like infernalism, it will just look like normal god-bonding. It's more ST and player friendly, I think, since you aren't actually adding that much 'baggage' to the concept, when compared to giving them a demonic overlord.

                      A synthesis of our ideas would have some younger Wu Keng, in the modern age, rebelling against their Masters and making them their servants, becoming like other Mages. Wu Keng should have a word for "Other Mages" which summarizes them as outsiders and something "else", since these are people who steal power from gods rather than serving the divine harmony. Taking inspiration from Confucianism, Wu Keng could call themselves "Those Who Have the Mandate of Heaven", and could call other Mages the opposite.
                      Last edited by 11twiggins; 06-04-2018, 04:41 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Well the thing is if this is past Revised the Wu Keng ages long pact with the Yama Kings would have expired. A big part of their Revised write up was the expiration of their crafts pact. So they would be free by default.


                        It is a time for great deeds!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I found that the easiest solution was simply to tweak their backstory slightly.

                          In my games, "Wu Keng", which roughly translates to "pit witch" (and apparently there's also a verb form of 'keng' that means to defraud) is a term invented by the Wu Lung and is meant to be derogatory (sort of the way the Hermetics used to use "hedge wizard"). The Craft privately refer to themselves as the Handmaidens of Fate (which according to Google Translate would be Mingyun de Binu, maybe?), but some younger members over the past few decades have started taking the Wu Keng name as their own badge of rebellion.
                          The Craft originated among the neolithic Hongshan culture in northeast China and were centered at Niuheliang's "Goddess Temple". The deities they served were unique to their culture and forgotten by later Chinese societies, including the Imperial Dragon Wizards, who therefor regarded them as demons who rejected the proper authority of Heaven. (Said deities may or may not be ancient ancestor spirits of the Yellow Springs; I've often alluded to the idea that Mrs. Meng from The Dark Kingdom of Jade is either their first member or their original patron goddess from neolithic times.)
                          During the legendary Xia dynasty, they were welcomed to the imperial court as shaman advisors and found themselves rivals of the Wu Lung. By the time of the Zhou period (around 1000BC to 250BC), the Dragons had successfully driven the Handmaidens from the courts, with the exception of the Kingdom of Chu. This was the start of the Craft's gradual move southward into Guangdong/Canton and neighboring regions. When Qin Shi Huang unified China, the Handmaidens attempted to stop him, resulting in a war with the Wu Lung. The Handmaidens lost, and as part of their victory, the Dragon Wizards cursed the entire Craft, forcing them to be continually reincarnated as men. (And as peasants, but this was really less of an issue for them.)
                          Part of their beliefs is that each one serves as a symbolic bride to the ancient forgotten deity that is her Avatar (sort of like the Chinese ghost marriage concept). Because of this, whenever the Handmaidens find one of their reborn members, it's necessary for the initiate to become female full time (forgive me as I really don't know what is the current preferred term for this in the LGBTQ+ community) while also donning the jade Juk Ak bracelet as a symbol of the marriage. Part of attaining the rank of A-ma and getting to lead one's own ng is that the Handmaiden must have enough skill with Life magic to perform a ritual making her fully female as her default pattern state. (In other words, they're all female shaman who keep reincarnating in male bodies, but get to start transitioning as soon as they're located by members of the Craft. Just that said transitioning involves various forms of magic - herbalism, alchemy, etc - instead of modern medicine.)
                          Even before great Chinese diaspora of the 19th century, they'd already spread to various Chinese communities throughout Southeast Asia and Indonesia. They had contacts with the Euthanatoi and were invited to join but turned them down for various reasons. They're kind of neutral toward the Akashic Brotherhood and Dreamspeakers, but their hatred of the Wu Lung is great. They subtly encouraged the Hermetics House Hong Lei for no other reason than the enjoyment of seeing how badly the group's existence annoys the Dragon Wizards. They've mostly kept overtures from the Verbena as a polite arm's length, but the upper echelons of the Handmaidens continue to debate whether or not they should reveal their long kept secret that the Wu Lung were responsible for the murder of William Groth.


                          What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. We are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly. That is the first law of nature.
                          Voltaire, "Tolerance" (1764)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Eldagusto View Post
                            Well the thing is if this is past Revised the Wu Keng ages long pact with the Yama Kings would have expired. A big part of their Revised write up was the expiration of their crafts pact. So they would be free by default.
                            That depends on whether their demon masters had any intention of honoring the agreement.

                            All of this is moot, of course, as those very Revised write-ups (circa Dragons of the East) say that the oldest Wu Keng secretly trained disciples, both male and female, in the Old Ways, from before the descent into infernalism. And that these New-Old shamans - let's call them Wu Nung, though DotE never gave them a proper distinct name - were rapidly growing in number. They practiced traditional Chinese "peasant magic" and shamanism, and didn't require any of the infernal, questionable transgendered, or foot-binding baggage that the Wu Keng labored under.

                            A likely scenario moving into the M20 era would be to present the infernal Wu Keng as being an infernal cult on its way out, due to being out-competed by their free counterparts among the Wu Nung. Evil is inherently self-defeating, and having two Spheres (Spirit and Time) tied behind their back makes for poor odds on the Wu Keng side. Plus, the Wu Nung could convince other Crafts, Traditions, or even Conventions to aid them, since no one likes Infernalists.

                            Another possibility (which may be concurrent with the previous one) is that the Wu Keng, sick of being strung along by abusive demonic masters, start to rebel. It may not end well - it's hard to throw off the shackles of demonic entities - but that won't stop some frustrated and desperate Wu Keng from trying.

                            What might be REALLY interesting is if these rebellious Wu Keng get a little help from another group described in Dragons of the East: the Toc Faan. These cannibalistic infernalists from Cambodia, their spirits painfully purified rather than stained by their consumption, may feel sorry for the poor bastards in China. Or, more likely, the Toc Faan see the Wu Keng as an opportunity to test run methods of slipping out of demonic pacts, before the Toc Faan attempt their own bid for freedom.


                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Found this bit of info about the Wu-Nung in an old Mind Eye's book.

                              "A group of mysterious old women are the founders of this Craft, teaching the young to dance in the halls of the gods and speak with the dead as the old shamans of China once did before the Chou Dynasty outlawed such practices. These six women traveled throughout eastern and southeastern Asia in search of potential students. They sought those who could still touch the spirits of their loved ones, and they sought the link to the spirit world. They gathered their students into circles, teaching them the old ways and showing them the silvery paths to the halls of the gods. Each circle was taught quickly, then a new circle of pupils was gathered. Over a two-year period, the little group of subtle ladies created a formidable number of shamans."

                              The mysterious teachers taught their pupils, called the Wu Nung, two things. The first lesson was the ways to woo and flatter the gods and the etiquette required to gain their favor. The second lesson was on the ways of demons, specifically how to fight them effectively. The Wu Nung returned to their communities, from squalid inner cities to farflung farming villages, and took up the mantle as spiritual guides of their communities. They rebuilt belief and respect for the spirits and old gods, slowly bringing back the culture of old China. In many places, the Shamans are still persecuted by the secular state, but they are usually hidden and supported by their faithful communities.

                              The numbers of the Wu Nung grew by leaps and bounds. The groups taught by the beneficial old ladies spread and took on more apprentices and taught them the ways of the gods. Then, almost overnight, things changed for the worse. Early in 2001, the beneficial ladies, who were the most learned among them, disappeared and have not been seen since. Soon after, there were reports of groups of Shamans being attacked by ladies like their original teachers. Many of their number have died at the hands of this mysterious new threat that they do not fully understand. Rumors claim that these are old students of the beneficial ladies who have somehow fallen from the grace of the gods. The Wu Nung now build their number in preparation for what they see as a coming war.

                              Roleplaying Hints: The Wu Nung's magic comes from their consorting with the old Chinese gods and spirits of the dead. They write poetry to these gods to gain their favor and attention, but there are very strict protocols that must be observed with each god to keep from angering them. The Shamans commonly go through many steps in the creation of a single Effect, and even after the Effect has been done, they make sure that the gods are sufficiently appeased. These practices become part of their daily lives; for example, they pray over a meal to three different gods in thanks for the meal itself, the fire that cooked it, and the spirits of the animals and plants that gave of themselves for it. A peasant Shaman is likely to be considered a superstitious person who does odd things at odd times in appeasement for different spirits and gods. Usually they are small acts of supplication and thanks, but they become far more elaborate rituals to court the spirits' affections and attention in the workings of something major."

                              Specialty Sphere: Spirit Common Foci: Painting, calligraphy, poetry, language, wood carving and sewing


                              Comment

                              Working...
                              X