New Skill (Precision, no default). In GURPS, this is a version of Esoteric Medicine.
Acupuncture claims to function by redirecting qi as it flows throughout the body, closing off a meridian or opening a blockage. This rebalances the patient’s energies and rids them of disease or other pernicious influences. In In Nomine, this is exactly the case; acupuncture is a skill similar to Alchemy or Enchantment, employing principles similar to geomancy on a medical level to channel a patient’s Essence. Acupunctural practices undertaken on a willing subject produce a variety of effects on the patient’s Essence flow, usually magnifying the effect of expenditure of Essence to boost rolls. Several inhibit the expenditure of Essence in other ways, allowing a human without Essence Control a better chance of having Essence to spend come time to make one or another roll.
Treatment by a trained acupuncturist at base Acupuncture skill produces the effects of first aid, and this is included in any more specific treatments. Diagnosis of problems to be treated can be done at Acupuncture-2, or with Medicine skill. (In GURPS In Nomine, Diagnosis defaults to Acupuncture-5). Acupuncture diagnoses (that is, done as a Diagnosis technique) permit diagnosis of some fairly odd problems, such as “demonic possession.” Specific acupuncture treatments vary in difficulty. If the acupuncturist’s skill is less than the number listed, treatment cannot be attempted at all without a reliable reference work, and is at -1 to skill. Some common acupuncture treatments include:
Acupuncture is designed for use upon the qi meridians of living humans. A practitioner is at -2 to base skill when working upon celestial or ethereal Vessels, except for those of Grigori and Skulkers. The skill fails entirely on undead. Animals can be worked on at -1 for mammals and -3 for others, and even plants can be affected, at -6 to skill.
Acupuncturists trained in Sorcery, Alchemy, Enchantment, or construct creation can research and produce a number of synergistic effects, such as turning a living human into a spirit jar, or encoding a Command ritual into an acupuncture treatment effected on an unknowing recipient, who thereby forfeits a resistance roll.
So famed is China for the quality of its porcelain and other ceramics that in English the word “china” is taken to honor the craftsmen who produced those fragile, beautiful works of art. From ancient times China had skilled artists of earthenware and stoneware: the mausoleum of the first Qin Emperor is famous for the Terra Cotta Army, 8,000 figurines of warriors, servants, even clerks forming a complete army. In later centuries, nearer the first millenium CE, the Longquan area produced fine porcelain of such breathtaking mastery that its name, too, passed into the aficionado’s vocabulary.
But the ceramicists of China knew more secrets than mixing bright glazes and finding the best clays. A rare few masters among them know of a clay that pulses with life itself, and they know how to admix tiny amounts of it with the finest earthly minerals to produce ceramics that are worthy of the kings of heaven. The challenge is finding this wondrous stuff – an entire lifetime can pass without a craftsman ever coming across the opportunity to work with primordial clay.
The mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang was designed to address this rarity, at least to an extent. The tomb was lined on the floor with a stylized map of the known world, and the roof decorated with maps of the constellations, to serve both as a focus and as an aide-de-memoire. Records carefully preserved and jealously protected to this day among certain Chinese craft families detail how a spirit may exit from the center of the tomb at certain astrologically significant moments, spurning his physical body to enter “Place-Which-is-no-Place.” If that spirit then returns to the flesh in that place, at a certain later moment, he will have a fairly high chance of bringing with him some of this clay dusting his form, said by the scrolls to have dusted him “when, returning, he passed through the orbit of the tail of the First Comet that heralded Creation.” Not all, but more than a few, of the terra cotta warriors that protect this tomb are not quite so... inanimate... as one might think.
Primordial Clay can be found in several pieces of Chinese ceramic work. Some of the better known versions of quotidian items are marks of taste and wealth among celestials, or among humans in the know. Works include:
More properly “fei xing zuofa,” “methods for use while flying,” but with the advent of wuxia movies... well, that’s the younger generation for you.
Fei Xing is a martial art that assumes its practitioner is capable of flight. Normally this would restrict it to the celestial realm and certain ethereal Domains, but through the use of Corporeal Motion or Numinous Corpus: Wings, it can be employed on Earth. In fact, with the popularity of kung fu movies in Chinese cinema the last few decades have seen quite a surge of interest in fei xing among Soliders of both flavors, to the extent that it has even become something of a recruiting tool.
Corporeal Motion is preferred; NC: Wings is a bit obvious in case one is being observed. Besides, it gives away which Side one trained on, and it’s not unknown for practitioners to quietly announce fei xing tournaments open to all comers, no questions asked. However, some schools, especially those intended for winged celestials in Heaven or Hell, add wing strikes to the repertoire of basic techniques. (Ofanim, it should be added, have a celestial style all their own, taking advantage of their natural celestial flight, their omnidirectional, undifferentiated celestial bodies, and their resonance. Presumably celestial contact with an Ofanite does not result in burns – at least, not without Dissonance to the Ofanite. The Seraph/Balseraph art makes extremely good use of grapples, and is studied by a number of vermiform Ethereals. The Kyriotate-Shedite martial art... well. Any martial art in which “Fast-Draw (Additional Hands)” is a core technique doesn’t get studied by more than a few specialists.)
The general goal of the style is to maneuver into a position of height advantage, and employ kicks since it is impossible to fall after a missed kick while flying. Due to this concentration, many of the style’s techniques are less effective, or even dangerous to attempt, during times when one can not fly. A flying combatant has an obvious advantage over groundbound foes, but when two fei xing stylists meet in combat and are relatively sure they won’t be spotted by the mundanes, it’s not uncommon to have both stylists permit their opponent a quiet moment to prepare themselves, the better to have a good match.
The listing below is tian fei xing, the Heavenly version. Notes for the Hellish version, diyu fei xing, follow.
Skills: Aerobatics, Corporeal Motion or NC: Wings*, Judo, Karate or Flying Righteous Lamb Kung Fu
*Any following techniques that require Jumping as a prerequisite are satisfied by these Songs, as long as they are active; study Jumping to satisfy such prerequisites while not under the influence.
Techniques: Attack from Above, Drop Kick, Elbow Drop, Evade (Aerobatics), Jam, Judo Throw, Jump Kick, Kicking, Leg Grapple, Leg Lock, Targeted Attack (kicks to face or skull), Targeted Attack (Wings), Wing Strike (version of Back Strike)
Cinematic Skills: Flying Leap, Immovable Stance*
*anchors a flying user where he is in the air
Cinematic Techniques: Flying Jump Kick, Timed Defense
Perks: Style Familiarity (tian fei xing), Style Familiarity (diyu fei xing)
Advantages: 3D Spatial Sense, Extra Attack (winged schools)
Disadvantages: Disciplines of Faith, Philosophy (Word of school), Quirk (always lets a fellow practitioner “suit up”)
Skills: Dropping, Jumping, Mental Strength, NC: Feet, Whirlwind Attack
Diyu fei xing does not include Disciplines of Faith as an optional Disadvantage. It adds NC: Claws as an optional skill, and several school teach Eye-Gouging or related eye-targeted Techniques, as well as Spinning Kick, which few Heavenly schools do. It replaces Mental Strength with the Mind Block skill as optional. The Kobalite school adds the Flying Atomic Wedgie as a Cinematic technique.
The subtle inflections and connotations of the Chinese alphabet can be the dickens for a foreigner to master – even among the Chinese people themselves, “having a ten thousand character education” is a traditional phrase for being well-versed in the classics, articulate of speech, and generally literate. So intricate are the connotations attached to the complexities of Chinese characters that simply drawing them, beautifully and evocatively, is an honored art form. To be sure, calligraphy and illumination are respected skills in the West, but a wealth of pictograph-based ideograms makes for a much richer artistic vocabulary.
So fully detailed is this writing-art that, in fact, a skilled calligraphist can use it as a manner of performing a Song, just as if he had sung the Song, or played it through an instrument! The “singer” makes an Artistry (Calligraphy) roll, choosing the characters for the Word or subject of the Song from the Chinese or a similar large ideographic vocabulary. Japanese would work, for example, since it uses the same characters, though the language might differ in connotations of a given character, and thus influence the choice of character to translate the celestial name of the Song, or the artistic presentation of the character. Whatever language is used, the artist must somehow know the language, whether native, imprinted, learned, or imparted by Song or talisman. She likewise makes the usual Song roll, spending the Essence required. Extra time, Essence boosts, risk rules, etc., can all be used to affect either roll. If both rolls are successful, the artwork thereafter functions as the “singer” for the duration. It is commonly used to produce Themes, especially of Consecration or Presence: in the In Nomine universe, a collection of lovely calligraphic artworks can really set a room’s mood.
There are limitations: the Song must be known at at least level 2, so that it can be performed using physical motions only. The material must be good quality and suitable for use of the skill: brush, ink, inkstone, and paper, “wen fang szu pao,” the “four treasures of the study.” Attempting to use nontraditional materials, such as charcoal or spraypaint, will impose penalties to skill use, unless the singer specializes in this medium. (However, alternative skills entirely, such as blacksmithing or sculpting, can be used to perform a Song with presentation of the appropriate ideograms.) Any Song which requires any sort of continuing manipulation cannot be performed via calligraphy. If the artworks are to be prepared beforehand, the Songs must be known at level 3 or greater, so that the artist can mentally invoke them when required. A Song to be targetted against something in particular also requires this, and generally the artwork must be designed to address the target specifically: “aku ryo tai san,” for example, would be the Japanese translation of a four-character scroll of calligraphy made for the Song of Banishing.
Theoretically, this mode of presentation could work with alphabets like the English or Arabic, but the characters themselves have very few of the mental connotations that make the original “performance” possible for the user. Such performances are more likely to occur via the reading of poetry or the acting of carefully crafted drama. The most likely version of visual presentation to work might be an intricate illumination of a manuscript, such as those found in medieval Bibles.
One of China’s most famous exports, both physically and conceptually, is fireworks. The flash and bang of these crackers was originally intended to scare away demons... something which, of course, any Belialite would laugh uproariously over, shortly before disemboweling anyone who attempted to scare him off with one.
Unless it had a bit more bang behind it than gunpowder. Enter the “Terrendum Diabolorum” Sorcerous ritual.
The existence of this “ritual” amuses demons in the know no end. The joke, of course, is that it’s no ritual at all; it’s a set of lines to feed less astute demons, names to drop and hints to play with, suggesting that a Sorcerer is a force not to be trifled with. Since most demons regard Sorcerers as, well, Forces to be trifled with, it’s quite tricky to pull off. Its main purpose is to delude Sorcerers into thinking they have more power over demons than they really have. Detailed guidelines are published in the major demon-summoning treatises, describing the “ritual” and its impressive effects on the demonic psyche. Enough Sorcerers believe it that the rituals have momentum of their own in summoning circles, all the better for Hell. There it is, in black and white, named and categorized, on page 48 of the CPG (sorry, meta there), just like all the other rituals that alchemical preparations can be made out o-Come again?
Alchemical preparations. Of Terrendum Diabolorum? But it’s not even a real ritual. Oh, really? Are you going to tell the Sorcerer-alchemist that? No? Well, then, he believes it is. And, funny thing, when you get right down to it, Sorcery is about imposing your thoughts on the Universe, just like demonic resonances, making what you want to be true, true. And human belief, well everybody says it shapes the Symphony, but nobody really... oh, man.
So that’s the deal. Chinese firework-makers, centuries ago, somehow figured out a way to work Terrendum Diabolorum into an alchemical recipe. It uses all the standard rules for preparation: roll against skill, and then against Alchemy + Enchantment. The skill is performed, like all alchemical recipes, through the alchemical symbology against a potential target. A successful use of the skill is embedded in the firework if the alchemical process succeeds. When the firework is later lit and fired off in the vicinity of a demon, the explosion is treated as an intimidation attempt – a reaction roll is forced from the demon, with a bonus equal to the CD of the original ritual skill roll, and the demon may well have the reaction the user hoped for – i.e., fright. Also commonly found mixed in with Terrendum fireworks are fireworks employing the Corporeal Song of Nightmares, which enhance fear responses in a target and thus synergize nicely with the Terrendum loads.
Naturally, Terrendum pyrotechnics don’t work at all on angels. Their reaction to the concept is... well, some of them giggle. But there are a number of angels of Fire and War in China who protect several strategically well-informed families with a long history of fireworks crafting.
(As a final note, there are also several traditional fireworks recipes, more commonly available than Terrendum crackers, that are available both as alchemical preparations and as one-shot relics: Corporeal Fire, Corporeal Shattering, and Thunder. These are less useful than they were historically, though: in the modern day, we call most of what those things do “grenades.”)
In the natural world, there are few objects so reflective as to give one a clear view of one’s own features. It is no wonder, then, that mirrors come with mythical connotations: the ability to see oneself is kin to the ability to know oneself, a knowing close to the root of all knowledge. A blank slate that shows the world without adding to it, they touch the Buddhist ideal of freedom from form, and are even today revered as holy metaphors. They also reverse images and appear to show a a world that is no more than an illusion, meaning they speak inherent falsehoods.
In the In Nomine setting, all sorts of mirrors both mundane and supernatural exist; they are popular mythological objects. Mundane mirrors can defeat the Songs of Concealment, reflecting truth; so can Mirrors of Truth, that reflect a celestial’s true form. Amaterasu and Tezcatlipoca both possessed powerful artifact mirrors, one of bronze and the other of obsidian, intertwined with their legends and described in the Liber Reliquarum. (Real life note: an antique bronze mirror claimed to be Amaterasu’s Mirror is still guarded by the priests of the shrine of Ise in Japan!)
“Transparent” mirrors are curious artifacts first cast 200 BCE and nearby centuries. Made of polished bronze, they have a smooth reflective surface on one side and an intricate decoration on the other. They earn their name because a strong light thrown onto the front of the mirror will cause a pattern of light to be reflected that matches the carvings on the back, due to a casting process that propagates microscopic cracks that catch the light. (This much is real.)
While novel, this was hardly earthshaking as craft secrets went and so the fashion declined after a few centuries, at least in the mundane world. However, relic craftsmen had twigged to the possibilities, and so multiple kinds of “transparent mirrors” can be found on offer from creators trained in Asian cultures. Here are a couple of possibilities:
Mirrors of the Primary Clear Light: made by angelic artificers, these mirrors are not “transparent” to mundane light sources. Indeed, they need not even be bronze. However, when taken into a divine Tether, the mirror reflects an image – usually the sigil of the artificer’s Archangel – that has the effects of the Light of Heaven upon a demon caught in the beam, even if they are in a sheltering Vessel or host! Treat as if the Light were emanating from a Tether with Forces equal to the lower of the Tether’s actual Forces, or the mirror’s level as a relic: 1 point per level, with no necessary maximum (they aren’t useful in all that many places). Typically, such Mirrors are kept respectfully covered, and revealed only under sacred circumstances.
Spirit Mirrors: popular among ethereal spirits of astronomical strands (Sun, Moon, Stars) or of Fire. These mirrors project an image that can serve as a focus for devotion, easing a worship rite. Whenever the light comes solely from the relevant source and reflected onto a shaded surface, an ethereal of the appropriate strand bonded to the relic will know, regardless of where it is, and have the option to manipulate the projected image as an Ethereal Song of Spirit Speech at the level of the relic. (Treat as a use condition of various levels of restrictiveness, depending on the light required.)
There are also mirrors that, exposed to particular kinds of lights reveal secrets that they shine under no other lights. Often a clue to the type of light required is worked into the decorations on the mirror – generally because the maker is profited when the seekers undertake the quest for some specific light source, more so than by keeping the information secret. On the other hand, making a mirror that shines only under the light of, say, “a Song of Nimbus worn by an Impudite,” keeps information fairly secure if the maker doesn’t bother to play games with the key. A number of supposedly mundane mirrors might be lost or forgotten mirrors of this type, awaiting light from an unusual source: light from the flames of peculiar fuels, or the flash of lightning or gunpowder or plutonium, or the stars at a certain time of year, or the glow of this or that Song or aura, Hellfire, bioluminescence... there are so very many kinds of light in the Symphony, and who would know them all...
Four: yang and yin. Forthright and unbroken, represented by a solid line; open and receptive, represented by a broken line. Each is young or old, thus four possible states.
Three: heaven, humanity and earth. Yin and yang are principles in each of these, their relative preeminences forming a trigram, of which there are eight static possibilities, though 64 of young and old.
Two: Two trigrams describe the inner truth and its outer manifestation; they form a hexagram. The old become young, and a new hexagram is formed, for 4096 possible pairs.
One: The interpretations are collected in one book, the Book of Changes: the I Ching.
This classic work of Chinese philosophy was studied by Confucius, who wrote deeply upon these matters. It is used as both a form of Confucian “scripture” as one of the Five Classics, and as a method of divination. The Book of Changes records the patterns of events, more than any one man can know. But by establishing which part of the pattern is most relevant to him, and by disciplined study of the collected wisdom of his elders discoursing on the forces at play when such a pattern is extant, he may be able to act wisely within the framework in which he finds himself.
The actual method of divination is deliberately laborious, allowing for a great deal of time to think and calm oneself; a stack of forty-nine yarrow stalks is repeatedly divided and subdivided, remainders taken and totaled, yielding at each of six repetitions one of the four possible types of line. Yang and yin are equiprobable in the random results, but the old and new versions of each are not, so that while any hexagram is equally likely to appear first, for any given present certain futures are more likely than others. A devotee of the divination process would agree, saying that naturally present conditions bias future results. This mathematical bias in the binary tree is the basis of an interesting product from Jean’s labs:
This is an improvement which can be added to either Janus or Jean’s Elohite Choir Attunement (which, obviously, the recipient must first possess). The holder of Jean’s Elohite Attunement can manifest a specialized internal sensor platform in the computing device, which will attempt to determine whether each of the six elements is particularly melodic or harmonic (roughly, yang or yin – causative, or consequential) in current local Symphonic themes. The holder of Janus’ Elohite Attunement can use his ability to read omens in the natural world to determine whether each of the six realms (root or external, and Divine, mortal/ethereal, or inanimate/Infernal) of his current circumstances is stable, or in flux. Both attempts are subject to a Perception roll; the target number is related to a weighted average of the proportion of nearby humans who would consult the I Ching seriously – 11 in a Confucian study group in rural China, 9 in most places outside the major cities, 7 in such a city or in a large group of devotees in a Chinatown in America, 5 in a Chinatown without such a group nearby, or in a particularly atheistic part of modern China, 3 in a Western city with some sort of Asian influence nearby, 1 in the middle of a convention of PSICOP.
These pieces of information are useful by themselves, but combining the two pieces of information will yield a true and complete description of a hexagram pair, which can be interpreted by reference to any accurate copy of the I Ching. A successful skill roll on Knowledge (I Ching divination), which defaults to Intelligence-3 for someone who has spent significant time in Confucian cultures, will then yield an accurate if general prediction of the shape of upcoming events. Combining the information, of course, requires either that two holders work together, or that one being earned both attunements.
A “Truth-telling I Ching,” like functional Oracle Bones, also makes a fine divinatory relic. A properly stored I Ching will be kept wrapped in silk and stored above head height, taken down only when being consulted. Assume that the book comes with its own reliquary/4 only useful for the Song of Symphony contained in the book, at 2/level; regenerates this Essence slowly, at once per week (-2); must be properly stored (-1); is usable by mundanes (+3, +1 per level of the Song); requires an hourlong ritual of yarrow-casting (-3) and a skill roll (Knowledge (I Ching divination, defaults to Intelligence-3)) (-1), and is destroyed if the book is destroyed (-4), for a final cost of 4 points per level of the Song.
The I Ching can also make a useful referent for a GM, similar to the use some GMs make of Tarot cards. Suppose that the primary conflict is between an angel of a given Choir, and a demon of a given Band; assign to the Band the same trigram as given for the relevant Choir as discussed in the earlier entry Ba Yin from this month. (A GM may assign the same trigram to Grigori and humans, to extend the metaphor.) Decide whether the prime mover of the affair, closer to the root cause, is the angel or demon; assign that trigram as the inner trigram, and the other as the outer. Reference the hexagram thus constructed and take its ideas for a description of some aspect of the situation. (For extra-detailed fun, build up a determination of whether the current effects of each participant’s plotting is “old” and ready to come to fruition in its corporeal, ethereal, and celestial aspects respectively, and assign values of old or young to the three lines of each trigram accordingly; move the hexagram, and prophesize as desired.)
The material presented here is the creation of William Keith, and is intended for use with the In Nomine and GURPS systems from Steve Jackson Games. This material is not official and is not endorsed by Steve Jackson Games.
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