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The Grand Falloon

Binding Spirits and Kansen

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   First off, how smart are most kansen?  Are they basically smart little demons, like imps in D&D?  Or are they more like raw emotions, like intangible spirits of hate and anger?

   Let's say a Maho-Tsukai wanted to bind a kansen to an idol, telling his henchmen, "This spirit will watch all you do!"  Could that spirit leave and report back to the Tsukai?  Could the Tsukai return to the idol and interrogate the kansen?  Or would the idol just exude an aura of darkness and fear, and the henchmen (not knowing any better) would assume the Tsukai was watching their every move?

   Moving on, let's say a group of samurai storms the hideout, and finds the idol.  Assuming they can detect the presence of the evil spirit, what can they do about it?  Does it work to smash the idol?  A Rite of Cleansing ought to drive it away.  What if they want to bind it, forcing it into physical form so that they can kick its butt?   Maybe even interrogate it to find out who controls it?  That seems like crossing the Maho line, but I can imagine a lot of situations where you would want to bind a spirit (even an elemental kami) into physical form.

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2 hours ago, The Grand Falloon said:

   First off, how smart are most kansen?  Are they basically smart little demons, like imps in D&D?  Or are they more like raw emotions, like intangible spirits of hate and anger?

   Let's say a Maho-Tsukai wanted to bind a kansen to an idol, telling his henchmen, "This spirit will watch all you do!"  Could that spirit leave and report back to the Tsukai?  Could the Tsukai return to the idol and interrogate the kansen?  Or would the idol just exude an aura of darkness and fear, and the henchmen (not knowing any better) would assume the Tsukai was watching their every move?

I think closer to the 'intangible spirits of hate and anger.' I tend to look at them as identical to elemental kami, but evil.

Where air kami are carefree, air kansen are capricious.

Where water kami are strong, water kansen are brutal.

And so on. Anything a kami can do, kansen can do... evilly.

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13 hours ago, Hida Jitenno said:

I think closer to the 'intangible spirits of hate and anger.' I tend to look at them as identical to elemental kami, but evil.

Let me go slightly further than that, the first paragraph on page 224 (on the subject of maho) describes kansen as being kami - either kami that began corrupt, or which where corrupted,

So it isn't a case of looking at them as identical, they are essentially the same,

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   Okay, so maybe not "unintelligent," but they certainly don't perceive the world the way we do.  So our Tsukai might be able to return to the idol and question the kansen within, but he probably won't get straight answers.  Bandits discussing how to get out of their predicament wouldn't be understood by the spirit.  However, bandits being slaughtered by PCs (or each other) would probably delight the kansen and it would take note of it, though interpreting its perception of the events would be tricky at the least.  Sound about right?

  Likewise, a PC attempting to bind and interrogate the kansen would face similar troubles.  It wouldn't be able to identify "Isawa Jimmy, the Phoenix Shugenja" as the Tsukai, but might know him by a character traits that would appeal to the spirit.  Perhaps by an advantage or disadvantage that shares the same element...

   Well, it looks like I need to come up with some epithets for a lot of the advantages and disadvantages.

   How about the act of binding a spirit or forcing it into physical form?  Would that be an ad hoc Invocation? A ritual?  I'm figuring it would be some sort of "momentum points" challenge.

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Communing with kami seems to be less effective than in previous editions - a kami could essentially show you a vision of what happened for instance, and that's well beyond the kind of answer you can get from them in this edition. It's one of the things I think are a great improvement. Even if information obtained this way has no legal value, it made shugenja far too good at investigating. Exactly how to handle interactions with the kami is something I'm still coming to grips with for 5th ed though.

Binding a spirit, going by what the fictions depict, seems like a ritual - a rather involved one if the spirit is anything more than a basic run-of-the-mill kami as well. I'm also unsure of what exactly it would allow you to do to it afterwards. I'll be reading up on this when I find some time.

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I know in the Tale of Shikanoko (by Lian Hearn) there is a "wizard" character who binds spirits to watch over an Estate's gate that are intelligent (if not brilliant), have language and are at least somewhat cunning. They (of course) go rogue at one point in the first book in the series and cause trouble, haunting a building and even killing a samurai. So if something like that is what you are looking for, I think the trope is generally supported in "Samurai Epics" and appropriate for Rokugan. Probably not a Kansen though...which as already stated is essentially an elemental Kami that has been corrupted (and has an alien perception compared to humanity).

Your Maho-tsukai could have found and bound something like this. Perhaps a corrupted animal spirit, or hungry ghost, or even a nightmare spirit from the plane of dreams. Kami & Kansen are not the only game in town. Capturing and binding *it* to an idol or other physical object is powerful, advanced, and heady stuff. It's not something any old blood mage should be able to do. And I agree it's probably an elaborate ritual to summon and entrap it. Not something you can whip out in a skirmish.

PCs handling the object or attempting to interrogate *it* should be a harrowing experience. Perhaps at one extreme they need to travel to Sakkaku or Yumi-Do where they can interact with the spirit physically. On the other hand its possible that power Shugenja (or PCs with the right books) could attempt their own interrogation in the mortal world. The PCs should risk real consequences for opening themselves and potentially exposing themselves to baleful influences.

I found your idea of using the momentum mechanics interesting. To interact with the spirit in a box, PCs might have to face a hybrid of an intrigue/skirmish encounter. They suffer attacks until/unless they appease or subdue the spirit through negotiation or spiritual dominance.

 

 

 

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On 2/7/2019 at 12:05 PM, The Grand Falloon said:

identify "Isawa Jimmy, the Phoenix Shugenja" as the Tsukai, but might know him by a character traits that would appeal to the spirit.

Well, if they know an Isawa is around, and that maho is afoot, it doesn't take much effort to put two and two together...

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14 hours ago, Tonbo Karasu said:

But you have to be careful about this, because sometimes you'll end up with 5...

Add 2 and 2 and get 5? In Rokugan?!? Never! the mandate of Heaven won't allow it! 😃

LOL! This would be a great opportunity for the PCs to gain some new adversaries who have a legitimate grudge against them!

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