In Nomine in China


Directorate of Special Purposes

The executive branch of the PRC’s government, naturally, has a Ministry of Water Resources, and this Ministry has a Department of Planning and Programming. The mission of this Department is your typical paragraph of bureaucratese, listing a collection of goals concerning the organization of other Departments in the Ministry, with “...and programs of special purposes” slapped in the middle to cover anything else it might have to do. There are directorates in the Department applied to each of the listed objectives, including one for the “special purposes” objective, generally agreed to be the guys that figure out what to do with stuff the Ministry doesn’t normally deal with, and recommend a strategy to the more usual directorates. All very standard.

The nonstandard part is the part where this innocuous directorate has a staff of feng shui masters and a black-ops budget that rivals the military’s expenditures on Taiwan intel.

Serious building projects in Asia frequently consult a feng shui practitioner, of course. Occasionally it involves some architectural modifications, but usually it’s no more complicated or expensive than getting a Catholic priest to come by and sprinkle some holy water on the foundation. It’s mainly for the PR; if a good percentage of the population thinks your building is sucking in bad luck, you lose customer base. Nationally, of course, this is officially declared to be nonsense by the officially atheist PRC. China’s Cultural Revolution led to feng shui practice being nearly banned outright, for one extreme example. Certainly China has no formal governing body dedicated to pursuing the inane theology of an outmoded geomantic superstition.

Right. Also, while we’re at it, China does not have a committee on alchemy, has no diplomatic contacts with the Celestial Bureaucracy, does not have a small special-ops force solely dedicated to penetrating the karmic barriers around the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation cycle, does not have a one-call-a-year hotline to the hovel where Confucius has been happily existing for the past several millenia, and certainly does not have Christian angels running around its soil. One of these statements is even true.

The one about the Feng Shui committee is, however, blatantly false. Calling it The People’s Secret Subdirectorate for the Theoretical Study and Practical Application of Feng Shui to Corporeal Territorial Integrity would be more accurate, but would attract too much attention, that’s all.

As world governments go, the Middle Kingdom has been around the block a few times. The geomantic studies involved with this ancient art have been in continuous development since the earliest histories (that is to say, at the time of the earliest histories they had already been in development for some while). After the confusion of the Xinhai Revolution and the Warlord Era, the Kuomintang government got a knock on the door. After the Civil War, the Kuomintang functionaries involved with the group all just happened to be away from the worst of the purges, and after things had settled down a bit a few quiet demonstrations of geomantic calculations and some eyewitness accounts of supernatural activity convinced the newly installed government that there were, in fact, supernatural creatures running around on Earth, and some sort of policy had to be formulated to deal with them.

The Party chose “kick the bums out,” and the first form of the Directorate of Special Purposes was created. Its goal was to secure China’s borders in the metaphysical sense, by disrupting present Tethers and preventing the formation of new ones. If spirits from other worlds are going to come to China, they’ll damn well come when called and not traipse around unsupervised, and they certainly aren’t going to be sucking away useful qi that the Chinese people can be spending on their own personal and national advancement. Over the past fifty years the DSP has steadily accumulated expertise in identifying Tethers, including spotting a new Tether, determining its Side and the sorts of activities it engages in, and even roughly cataloging a few code-named entities that appear to be in charge whenever specific sorts of Tethers are created. When it identifies a Tether, intelligence agents seek information on its formatory event and the likely activities that sustain its qi flow. These are then attacked through the use of propaganda agents working the region’s population, and governmental harassment of the site itself. Important among these tactics is rezoning to disrupt the cover activities of the Tether, with the geomancers directing land-use recommendations to shunt qi away from the Tether and back into the general population.

The prevention of the formation of Tethers is a topic of high interest in the Directorate. Water projects (“feng shui” translates as “the way of wind and water,” and basically employs the principles that air scatters qi and water collects it) are undertaken with a mind to direct qi toward human uses; hydroelectric dams are big-money projects, as are aquaculture and maritime programs. Whether these projects actually work is debated intensively in Heaven and Hell, but what is known is that Tethers in China tend to come in three flavors: major, secret, and a bare few Tethers to the Chinese pantheon that are tolerated in exchange for a working relationship. A poorly-defended Tether that becomes known to the authorities will find itself rapidly under assault. It’s possible that this is also an effect of Essence circulating in the population with fewer outlets, erupting as fewer but stronger Tethers.

The Directorate pursues its policy of exclusion in its staffing procedures, as well. New managers assigned to the bureaucracy are inducted in a series of rituals designed to sniff out celestials: days of isolation and fasting followed by blood testing to ensure that the recruit is hungry, an animal sacrifice to check Disturbance, a series of ritual lies and repudiations, a solid strike upon a fellow human, etc. The rituals are changed regularly. Shedim and Kyriotates are a bit more challenging to check out, but random tests catch even a few of those. Saints, Undead, and Soldiers from both Sides are the primary infiltrators. Celestial presence in the managerial staff is almost certainly at zero or bare minimum.

It’s a great pity, then, that the Directorate is almost entirely under the thumb of Kronos. Demons are far freer to use the Celestial Bureaucracy’s Tethers than angels, and the philosophy of the Directorate includes “permitted immigration” by means of summoning, to which demons respond and not angels. The geomantic ranks of the Directorate thus include quite a few members of the Black Order thoroughly steeped in demon-summoning, and the net results of the Directorate’s activities are projected by Fate demons to serve Hell better than Heaven. The occasional disruption of an Infernal Tether is a price to be paid for similar disruption to the other Side, especially when agents can prioritize Heavenly Tethers for attack over Infernal ones.

Rectifying this situation is a major goal of Destiny’s angels in China. It’s ironic, given that Destiny would cheerfully leave humanity alone exactly as the PRC officially wants, if only Hell would do the same. The front-end projects, especially hydroelectric dams, are often dealt with by Lightning, and zoning is a matter for Stone. An Archangel of Water might be more suited to organize efforts on this front, though.

The Bodhisattva Vow

“I vow to liberate all beings, without number;”

“I vow to uproot endless blind passions;”

“I vow to penetrate dharma gates beyond measure;”

“I vow to attain the way of the Buddha.”

Bodhisattva as In Nomine terms them are humans who have died and entered the Lower Heavens, but remain there serving the War as providers of Essence, rear-office staffers, trainers, enchanters, or through service in other similar positions. Since every human in the Lower Heavens knows that in the Higher Heavens there is peace, understanding, and purity of existence, the ability to delay this gratification to serve one’s fellows is deeply honored. The term bodhisattva comes from Buddhism, where a bodhisattva is described as someone who has taken the vows above. Such a person has earned entrance to Nirvana and could move on after death, but instead chooses to remain behind and assist others until everyone in the corporeal world is ready to enter that blessed state. However, the result differs in that the religious version of a bodhisattva vows to be reincarnated, again and again (“to penetrate dharma gates beyond measure”), until that time. Heaven does recorporealize Saints, but not that continually.

This post proposes a new character type that GMs may add to a game: bodhichitta. Primarily found in regions heavy on Buddhist and Hindu influence, this character is a human who took the bodhisattva vows and now reincarnates continually, their intent being to assist others in achieving enlightenment or Nirvana.


A bodhichitta must take the bodhisattva vows while alive.

The would-be bodhichitta must be aware that he is receiving no particular protection from Hell or unfavorable rebirth unless he earns favorable rebirth on his own merits; but if he does, he understands that he is giving up more favorable rebirths in order to reincarnate for the benefit of others still alive.

A bodhichitta must either be Symphonically Aware, or possess potential for at least a sixth Force. Symphonically Aware would-be bodhichitta simply take the vows in a formal ritual; those with potential participate in a ceremony that awakens the sixth Force and requires the participation of a Symphonically aware being.

During the remainder of the bodhichitta’s first life, accepting an Infernal Force, achieving Fate and not Destiny, or becoming undead at any time negates bodhichitta status.

During each reincarnation, the bodhichitta must sincerely take the bodhisattva vows again. Failing to do so releases them to a (nearly) normal final judgment.


Upon death, a bodhichitta is drawn to one of the many realms of the Hindu pantheon. If the human has more potential Forces, something which the deities overseeing the process can apparently assess with great accuracy, he is assisted in developing them through ritual and training. At the end of this process, he submits to a Kyriotate-like form of bilocation, with his Celestial Forces being separated from his Corporeal and Ethereal Forces. His Celestial Forces remain in that realm; the rest of his being is returned to Earth to reincarnate through birth.

Reincarnated bodhichitta are difficult to distinguish from normal humans at first. (Yves’ “Past Lives” attunement will detect them instantly, however.) They develop quickly to their full potential of Forces without requiring outside intervention, though from their full potential is subtracted the number of Celestial Forces which remain in the Marches. They become Symphonically Aware when this number plus the number of Forces in their current body reaches six, and at this time their memories return. In addition to granting access to old skills, this often recalls to mind Songs they learned, and at this time an Ethereal Connection granted by the Hindu pantheon will often manifest itself. They have full Will and Perception, and even the Blessed advantage, but can seem weak-willed or hazy-eyed, because they behave as if partially subject to the Celestial Song of Disjunction. Their thoughts and actions are delayed in communication with their will and perception – they can perceive things, or they can think about them and act upon them, but not both in the same round. Bodhichitta are no longer entirely of the material world.

Since bodhichitta have trained to their full complement of Forces, they cannot participate in an Oathtaking after they reach adulthood. Attempting to make a bodhichitta into an undead snaps the fragile connection to the human’s celestial Forces, killing the body and scattering its Ethereal Forces to the winds. The best that can be done is to make the resulting body a zombie – admittedly, a frequently tough one. Bodhichitta cannot participate in celestial combat in any way; they are wholly immune to soul damage. They cannot be given Celestial Connections, or make bonds with any relics or reliquaries (though they can bond with talismans or corporeal artifacts that also happen to be reliquaries, any functionality of the latter that requires bonding is inaccessible to them).

Bodhichitta are typically devout Buddhists, and may not even believe in the “Christian” Heaven and Hell. They are motivated to teach and set a good example for others, serving Buddhism and Hinduism in much the same way that Saints serve Heaven. The few that have been released to face final judgment have not appeared in the Lower Heavens or at Hellmouth, leading some to dark suspicions that the process damaged their existence in some way. Others claim that released bodhichitta exit the samsara worlds entirely, their vows released through no fault of their own, and immediately ascend to the Higher Heavens – it being almost unthinkable for a being so selfless to earn the Lower Hells. This parallels very well with the afterlife traits of Children of the Grigori, so much so that it has been proposed that Buddhism invented the ideas of bodhisattva and anagamin (“non-returners,” who depart the samsara worlds immediately upon death) to teach the Children about the afterlife options most suited for them.

The material presented here is the creation of William Keith, and is intended for use with the In Nomine system from Steve Jackson Games. This material is not official and is not endorsed by Steve Jackson Games.

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