Kindred of the East: the Song of Lanterns
The Blood Shintai Discipline, the Water element analog, concentrates on the ebb and flow of Chi through the character’s circulatory system. Blood Shintai Disciplines can be attuned to Yin, Yang, or Balance; in the view of a practitioner, Yin and yang compose but one aspect of the cyclical flows that permeate eternity like blood through a body. As blood is in constant, yet regulated, motion, flowing from the heart through veins to limbs, so Yin and Yang themselves aren’t rigid quantities, but ever-changing. Chi Attunement: Strength 1 · Permeate · The disciple of the Blood Shintai first learns to manipulate gross quantities of blood within his body. The vampire may diffuse blood through his body, thereby swelling up in the manner of a puff adder; alternatively, he may concentrate his essence into his center, thereby appearing to shrivel. A vampire with sufficient control over his blood flow can squeeze through narrow cracks in the manner of an invertebrate, though such a process is arduous and time-consuming. System: No roll is needed; one Chi Point (of either type) must be spent. Either diffusion or concentration reduces soak rolls to difficulty 5. With this power, a vampire may easily slip into narrow crevices or wriggle free of bonds. Getting through very tight spaces (between bars or through a small window) might require a Dexterity + Athletics roll (difficulty depends on the situation). By selectively swelling and shriveling his face and body, the vampire may attempt to obscure his features. He may not disguise himself as someone else, but he may veil his own identity (and, generally speaking, will appear less attractive). To recognize the vampire, a viewer must roll Perception + Subterfuge (difficulty 6 for both). The power’s effects last for one scene. 2 · Blood Atemi · By touching another creature, the vampire may move the blood in that being’s body. This ability can cause all manner of detrimental effects, particularly to mortals. System: To use this power, the vampire must touch his victim, spend a Chi Point, and roll Perception + Medicine (difficulty 7). The effects of the power depend on where the victim is struck. If the vampire touches the victim’s body, he causes the circulatory system to go haywire. Nausea and dizziness result, as blood rushes to and from the victim’s head, stomach, and inner ears. Unless the victim scores more successes on a Stamina roll (difficulty 7) than the vampire did on his attack roll, the victim is overwhelmed by nausea for one turn per success on the attack roll. A nauseated victim must make a Dexterity roll (difficulty 7) to take any action)s) during her turn, and the difficulty of any action she does undertake is raised by one. If the victim botches the Stamina roll, she’s completely overwhelmed with nausea for the entire scene (if shen) or suffers a stroke (if mortal). If the vampire touches a limb, he may choose to numb the limb or to induce spasm. Numbing a limb produces a “pins and needles” effect; all activities using that limb are at +2 to dice pools. Inducing spasm in a limb forces the victim to make a straight Dexterity roll (difficulty 7); if the roll fails, the victim’s extremity is contorted by muscle cramps, which render the limb useless for one turn per success the vampire scored. If the roll is botched, the victim takes a health level of damage from severe cramps. Alternatively (if rarely), a vampire may use this power to facilitate healing in a human or animal. For each success on the vampire’s roll, healing time on the Mortals’ healing Times chart is halved. Obviously, this power may be used only upon beings with bloodstreams. Vampires, shape shifters, and changelings, for example, are fair game; Risen and wraiths aren’t. 3 · Flow Like Blood · The vampire instantly disperses Chi through her bloodstream into every molecule of her being. In so doing, she becomes as fluid as blood, and thus, preternaturally hard to strike. Although the vampire appears barely to move, perfectly aimed attacks simply miss her, bullets strike the wall behind her without touching her, etc. System: The vampire spends a point of Yang Chi. For the next three turns, the vampire may dodge any and all attacks directed at her as though she had a full dice pool, in addition to any other actions she chooses to take. She suffers no penalty to dodge multiple attacks. So, if a Kuei-jin with a Dexterity of 3 and a Dodge of 3 is being attacked by three opponents, she may dodge all of her opponents’ strikes with a Dexterity + Dodge dice pool of six dice and versus difficulty 6, in addition to taking her allotted action for the turn. If the vampire chooses solely to dodge during a turn in which this power is evoked, she may do so per the rules above, but all Dodge rolls are made versus difficulty 5. 4 · Bloodlash · With this power, the vampire uses Chi to coagulate his blood into a lethal weapon. The vampire extends a tendril of blood, then wields it like a liquid whip. The tendril is razor sharp, capable of slicing through flesh and metal with equal ease. Yin lashes are black and bubbling, while Yang lashes are bright red and hiss with roiling energy. System: The Cathayan spends a point of either Yin or Yang Chi, then opens her mouth or slits her wrist. The lash extends from the open orifice or wound. The lash has a reach of four feet per point of the vampire’s permanent Chi (Yin or Yang, depending on the distance from which the whip is formed) and inflicts Strength + 2 aggravated damage; alternatively, it can hit for normal Strength damage, then constrict a victim. Victims seeking to escape the bloodlash must score three or more successes in a resisted contest of their Strength versus the vampire’s permanent Chi Virtue. 5 · Blood Awakening · At this level, the enlightened student can utilize his Chi-rich blood for all manner of wondrous tasks. By sprinkling Yang-laden blood on an object, the vampire can awaken the spirit within the object, thus imbuing it with life. Alternatively, by spitting Yin-heavy blood on a spirit, the vampire can freeze the spirit in place, causing it to calcify and fall immediately out of the spirit world. Spirits snared in this manner resemble bizarre statues of pure white jade. System: Animated objects must have some means of mobility, and this power is therefore most commonly used on statues of persons or animals. The object in question must be well-crafted (creator must have scored at least three successes on the roll to make the object), or else its spirit is too week to awaken. For each Yang Point spent, the animated object gains two health levels and one die in all Physical Attributes. Objects obey the Kuei-jin’s orders to the best of their (limited) ability. A miniscule object (for example, a tiny statuette imbued with five Chi Points) grows huge, perhaps larger than the Kuei-jin. The Storyteller may assign an object any other properties that logic or whimsy dictates (for example, a brass cobra could bite, an iron soldier would have extra soak dice, and an origami swan could surely fly). If the vampire instead chooses to spend yin, she can spit it at any ghost or spirit she can detect. Spirits and ghosts hit by this projectile “calcify,” turning into white jade-like and completely immobile “statues,” which then collapse through the Wall and into the Middle Kingdom. A spirit so calcified is completely helpless, and can be smashed (which disperses its Chi and sends the spirit back through the Wall to re-form) or drained of Chi. Kuei-jin can use this power to hunt spirits for their Chi, but doing so enrages the spirit-worlds as a whole, and vengeance assuredly is to follow. 6 · Blood Blade · Like the feared Bloodlash, this power allows the Kuei-jin to create a weapon out of his own blood — in this case, a dagger or sword. The weapon may have any appearance the Kuei-jin desires: It can resemble the straight-double edged blades so favored by Westerners, the curved darn dao saber of China, or katana of Japan, the butterfly swords or hook swords of kung fu, or anything else the Kuei-jin can conceive of that resembles a blade. Some Cathayans have even refined this power to create blades of a lethally artistic shape — swords shaped like flames or dragons, or daggers that resemble demon’s claws, for example. System: The player spends a point of Yin Chi or Yang Chi, then slits his wrist or opens some other wound on his body (or, perhaps, takes advantage of an existing would). The blood he releases coagulates into a sword or dagger, as he desires; it lasts for one scene (or longer, at the Storyteller’s discretion). The weapon can be used to strike at targets for Strength + 3 aggravated damage. 7 · Blood Of The Scorpion · The Assamites of the Kin-jin aren’t the only ones who can spit blood; some powerful Kuei-jin can, too. Even worse, their blood is poisoned with Yin energy, making it deadly to the very touch. Using this power is a particular delight for Kuei-jin who follow the Song of the Shadow or Howl of the Devil-Tiger Dharmas, who appreciate not only its lethality, but its horrific qualities as well. System: The player spends a point of yin Chi to “poison” a quantity of the Kuei-jin’s blood with life-sapping Yin energy, who then spits it at his target. he can spit the blood up to one yard per point of permanent Yin Chi that he possesses. He rolls Dexterity + Firearms or Athletics, whichever is higher (difficulty 6), to hit his target; if successful, the Yin-poisoned blood does a number of dice of aggravated damage equal to the character’s permanent Yin Chi + 2. The victim doesn’t suffer this damage if the poisoned blood can’t touch him. For example, if he’s wearing a sealed environmental suit or is completely swathed in thick furs. (Ordinary clothes normally won’t suffice to protect him, however.) Wraiths, mummies, and any targets with higher permanent Yin Chi ratings than the Kuei-jin are immune to this power. 8 · Corruption Of The Blood · This is one of the most feared Kuei-jin powers — the ability to turn another Kuei-jin’s, or Kin-jin’s, own blood against him. With the merest touch, a Kuei-jin who knows this ability can cause the victim’s blood to become as poison to him or to boil with Yang energy. Either way, the typical result is a quick, but extremely painful, death. System: The Kuei-jin must touch the victim (skin-to-skin contact isn’t required, however) while the player must spend a point of Yang Chi and roll manipulation + Medicine (difficulty 7). Each success means that the victim takes one die of aggravated damage from boiling and corrupted blood. Furthermore, this blood is rendered poisonous and useless, or burned away. Kin-jin lose a Blood Point for each success. The roiling Yang energy similarly drains the powers of other creatures, sapping their vitality (Storyteller’s discretion). 9 · Blood Leeching · An extension of Corruption of the Blood, this power allows a Kuei-jin to steal blood (or, more accurately, Chi) from another being, be he mortal or shen. The Kuei-jin simply has to touch the victim, and the victim’s blood bursts out of every pore, injuring or killing him while simultaneously granting the Kuei-jin more Chi to use. Particularly sadistic Kuei-jin often enjoy “feeding” by means of this power. Using Blood Leeching on another Kuei-jin is often regarded as a gross insult to his wu or court, one that must be repaid in kind, or by declaring the offender akuma. System: Like Corruption of the Blood, except that the Kuei-jin gains one point of temporary Yang Chi or Yin Chi (his choice) for every health level of damage the victim takes. The Kuei-jin stealing Chi in this manner may not raise his Chi reservoirs past their permanent levels with this power, however.