Magic Tattoos

Tattoos and the Kakusei Illuminated Order

At the Dawn of the Empire, the Clear-Eyed Lord of the Mountain, Kakusei, was gifted a sword of divine steel by his brother-in-law, SenkĊ. Kakusei never bore the sword however, for he had already foreseen a greater use for it. Instead, he broke it against a simple stone, shattering the blade into a hundred shards of deific metal, which he gathered up and refined into a set of tattooing needles. With these needles, he tattooed the closest of his followers, using pigments gathered from the World Beyond the World. Though Hirin, Midokaji, and Reitakibi all received tattoos at their lord's hand, and though a strong tradition of tattooing endures in those Families to this day, only the sworn brothers of Kakusei's Illuminated Order are still marked with divine steel and otherworldly inks.

Such is the spiritual power of these tattoos that they seem almost shift and waver— creatures moving as they would in life, patterns roiling and changing, landscapes touched as though by tattooed weather. Each of these tattoos is an indelible connection to the Void and to the power of the World Beyond the World.

Though the Illuminated Order contains a variety of traditions, every aspirant gains at least one magical tattoo upon attaining full brotherhood, and depending on the path they choose may stand to gain many more. These mystical tattoos allow the bearer to call upon the power of the World Beyond the World, channelling this spiritual force through their own bodies and through the ink irrevocably marked upon their skin.

Using Tattoos

Magic Tattoos are divided in Yang Tattoos and Yin Tattoos. To use any Tattoo, it must be bared to the air, and cannot be covered by cloth or otherwise concealed beneath clothes.

Yang Tattoos

Yang Tattoos create active effects that require a burst of effort to use. Once per turn you may activate a Yang Tattoo as a Free Action, unless otherwise specified. When you activate a Yang Tattoo, it creates an effect that lasts for a specified duration.

Yin Tattoos

Yin Tattoos grant a constant effect as long as they are empowered. Once per turn you may empower a Yin Tattoo as a Free Action. You may only have one Yin Tattoo empowered at a time. When you empower a Yin Tattoo, any previously empowered Yin Tattoo is disempowered and all granted effects end immediately.


Tattoos

Yang Tattoos

Dawn

The Dawn Tattoo displays the sun, shining forth radiant beams and often cresting some kind of horizon. When activated, it seems to glow, its rays shifting and sliding.

When you activate this Tattoo, you immediately end the Exhaustion and Hunger statuses as though you had just slept for eight hours and had a filling meal. You do not regain Void Points when you activate this Tattoo. When you activate this Tattoo, you may not activate it again before you have slept for eight hours and had a filling meal.

Flame

The Flame Tattoo displays fiery shapes or patterns formed of tongues of smoke and flame. When activated these seem to roil and leap.

You may activate this Tattoo as a Complex Action to breathe fire in a cone with an end-width of 5 feet and a length of 10+X feet, where X is equal to your School Rank. All targets in this area of effect suffer YkY wounds, where Y is equal to your Fire Ring. When you activate this Tattoo, you suffer wounds equal to your Fire Ring, ignoring Reduction.

Forge

The Forge Tattoo displays the trappings of the forge or foundry, including hammers, anvils, crucibles, bars of steel, a furnace, or hot coals and embers. When activated, these seem to glow with reflected light.

When you activate this tattoo, your hands are wreathed in fire for a duration of one turn. All Unarmed attacks you make this turn gain +X to damage, where X is equal to your School Rank+Fire Ring.

Hawk

The Hawk Tattoo displays a soaring hawk or falcon, wings spread or stooping towards the earth. When activated, the hawk's beak seems to part in a fierce cry as its wings beat powerfully.

You may activate this Tattoo as a Complex Action to leap a distance equal to your Water Ring x 25 feet.

Kirin

The Kirin Tattoo displays a proud kirin, scaled in rich blue and surrounded by a corona of flame. When activated, the kirin's hooves seem to stamp and prance, and the fire shifts and flickers.

When you activate this tattoo, you are granted good luck for a duration of one turn. You may choose any one roll you make this turn and immediately reroll it, keeping the better result.

Koi

The Koi Tattoo displays a glittering carp, swimming in placid waters. When activated, the waters seem to grow more wild, coming to resemble a mighty waterfall. At the height of this Tattoo's power, the carp ascends, and for a moment seems to become a soaring dragon.

When you activate this Tattoo, test Battle/Void against target number 25. If you succeed and your party's Tactics Pool is not full, add a Free Raise to your party's Tactics Pool. If you succeed and your party's Tactics Pool is full, you may spend all the free raises in that pool on a single test or contest this round.

Newt

The Newt Tattoo displays a sinuous newt or salamander, or very rarely a frog, always in bright and vivid colour. When activated, the creature seems to crawl and blink, twisting upon the skin.

When you activate this Tattoo, immediately heal 1k1+X of your wounds, where X is equal to your School Rank*2. You may activate this tattoo up to Y times per day, where Y is equal to your Void Ring.

Screen

The Screen Tattoo displays a veil, curtain, paper door, fan, flowing silk, or any other expensive and light material used to obscure something. When activated, these seem to flutter in an invisible breeze.

When you activate this Tattoo, for a duration of one hour you gain a pool of X bonus dice, where X is equal to your School Rank+Air Ring. At any time you may spend up to Y dice from this pool to gain +Yk0 any [Social] Skill Roll, where Y is equal to your Void Ring. Any unspent dice are lost when the duration of this Tattoo expires. You may only activate this Tattoo once per day.

Serpent

The Serpent Tattoo displays a cunning snake, often in emerald green but occasionally in red or blue, typically coiled around one arm. When activated, it seems to writhe and flick its tongue.

When you activate this Tattoo, for a duration of one turn you gain a bonus of +Xk0 to Stealth tests and contests, where X is equal to your School Rank. Any Unarmed attacks you make this turn that include an explosion in their damage roll also cause the target to become Stunned.

Stars

The Stars Tattoo displays a pattern of stars, often arranged into a recognizable constellation, sometimes on a black field. When activated, the stars seem to twinkle and glow.

When you activate this Tattoo, you may transfer up to X Void Points from yourself to a willing target you are touching, where X is equal to your School Rank. You may activate this Tattoo once per day, and you may not transfer more Void Points than you currently have.

Storm

The Storm Tattoo displays a pattern of dark clouds, often crackling with lightning, or a storm-wracked landscape. When activated, lightning seems to flash and clouds shift and churn as though lashed by wind. Sometimes rain begins to pour.

When you activate this Tattoo, for a duration of one turn, when making Unarmed attacks you may use the Knockdown Maneuver for one Raise.

Tiger

The Tiger Tattoo displays a fierce tiger, crouched and prowling or leaping through the air. When activated, the tiger seems to roar and flex its claws.

When you activate this tattoo, if you started the round in Void Stance, choose one: gain +1k1 to any roll this turn that benefits from the Void Stance bonus, or gain X reduction until the start of your next turn, where X is your Void Ring.

Wave

The Wave Tattoo displays a patch of foaming water or a pattern of crashing waves. When activated, the waves seem to leap and spray foam or crash against submerged rocks.

When you activate this Tattoo, while Unarmed and until the beginning of your next turn, Strength Contests you make for the purpose of performing or resisting the Knockdown Maneuver gain +Xk0, where X is equal to your School Rank.

Whisper

The Whisper Tattoo displays a face turned aside, half-hidden behind a hand or fan. When activated, it seems to mutter to itself, eyes glancing about.

You may activate this Tattoo as a Complex Action to whisper a message to anyone within X miles, where X is equal to your School Rank*10. The recipient hears your message as though whispered into their ear.

Yin Tattoos

Bamboo

The Bamboo Tattoo displays a pattern of hardy bamboo stalks, or a bamboo grove. While empowered, the stalks seem to constantly grow new shoots and sway without breaking in a powerful wind.

While this Tattoo is empowered, gain a bonus of +X to your Armor Target Number, where X is equal to your School Rank*2+5.

Bear

The Bear Tattoo displays a mighty bear, stoic and enduring. While empowered, the bear's limbs seem to ripple with strength.

While this Tattoo is empowered, at the start of each round, choose one of the following bonuses: gain +X to your Stamina, or gain +X/2 to your Strength, where X is equal to your School Rank.

Cloud

The Cloud Tattoo displays a pattern of pale and wispy clouds, untroubled by wind. While empowered, they seem to drift gently, parting and reforming.

While this Tattoo is empowered, when you are struck by a melee attack, the attacker must immediately make a second attack roll. If the second attack roll fails, the strike misses. You may not make attacks while this Tattoo is empowered.

Komainu

The Komainu Tattoo displays fierce temple guardians, either singly or in a pair, jaws stretched in a ferocious grin. Sometimes they are depicted as living creatures and sometimes as statues. While empowered, they seem to snap their teeth and glare furiously, as though confronted with threats to that which they guard.

When you empower this Tattoo, choose one [Military] skill. While this Tattoo is empowered, gain +Xk0 to all tests or contests that use the chosen skill, where X is equal to your School Rank.

Meridians

The Meridians Tattoo displays the inner pathways of the body through which the elements flow as a series of lines or points. While empowered, these seem to pulse with inner potency.

While this tattoo is empowered, when you deal damage, ignore the target's Reduction. While you are dealing damage, your targets may not spend Void Points to Endure unless they spend an additional Void Point.

Mongoose

The Mongoose Tattoo displays a bold mongoose, dark eyes shining. While empowered, it seems to bare its teeth, its fur rippling.

While this Tattoo is empowered, you are immune to Fear effects and to the Intimidation emphasis of the Coercion skill.

Mountain

The Mountain Tattoo displays a lofty and snow-capped peak, its lower slopes sometimes forested, sometimes bare rock. While empowered, snow occasionally shifts on the mountain's face.

While this Tattoo is empowered, reduce your Wound Penalties by X, where X is equal to your School Rank+2.

Sakura

The Sakura Tattoo displays a pattern of drifting blossoms or a blossoming tree, typically shedding petals. While empowered, these blossoms seem to spin and gently tumble downward.

While this Tattoo is empowered, damage rolls you suffer caused by falling take a -XkX malus, where X is equal to your School Rank.

Spider

The Spider Tattoo displays an agile spider, typically a small orb-weaver, sometimes perched in the center of its web. While empowered, its legs seem to flex and quiver, the strands of web trembling as though in a breeze.

While this Tattoo is empowered, you may use Move Actions to traverse vertical and inverted surfaces with ease by climbing at half your normal speed.

Tortoise

The Tortoise Tattoo displays a black-shelled tortoise, ancient and majestic. While empowered, water seems to flow off of its shell, leaving the tortoise unmoved.

While this Tattoo is empowered, you gain +X Reduction, where X is equal to your Earth Ring.

Void

The Void Tattoo displays a series of black kanji or dark, formless shapes. While empowered, these seem to fade in and out of view.

While this Tattoo is empowered, you may sense life around you. You know the location and rough details of all living things within a radius of X feet, where X is equal to your School Rank*10. Though you can only ascertain broad detail, you can recognize individuals you know well.

Wholeness

The Wholeness Tattoo displays the five elements swirling together, Yin-Yang symbols, or representations of Heaven and Earth in harmony. While empowered, the Tattoo's elements seem to cycle through each other.

While this tattoo is empowered, you may apply a bonus or malus of + or - X to all spellcasting tests made for spells that include you as a target or target an area you occupy, where X is equal to your School Rank*2+5.

Wind

The Wind Tattoo displays swirling patterns of stylized wind, often bearing leaves, or windswept landscapes elements like trees or grass. While empowered, these seem to shift and flow.

While this Tattoo is empowered, every turn you gain an additional Simple Action; this Simple Action may not be used to attack. Your maximum movement is not limited while this Tattoo is empowered.

Wolf

The Wolf Tattoo displays a lean and shaggy wolf, ears pricked and bright eyes turned forward. While empowered, its whiskers seem to tremble and its ears seem to turn towards even the slightest sound, its eyes glowing.

While this Tattoo is empowered, your senses sharpen. Gain +X*2 to your Vigilance and +X*5 to all Perception-based Hunting tests, where X is equal to your School Rank.


Advanced Mechanics: Merged Tattoos

At the GM's discretion, the option to acquire Merged Tattoos may be presented.

When you would gain a new Tattoo, you may instead merge two Tattoos that you already possess. Merged Tattoos must be either both Yin or both Yang. When you activate or empower a Merged Tattoo, both effects take place. Empowering a Merged Yin Tattoo costs a Void Point. Activating a Merged Yang Tattoo costs a Void Point. If you activate the same Merged Yang Tattoo on a turn following one in which you previously activated that Tattoo, you may ignore the Void Point cost; however, if you ever break this chain and activate a different Yang Tattoo, you must spend a Void Point to reactivate the original Merged Yang Tattoo. All combinations require GM approval.

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