Monday, September 7, 2015

The Center Cannot Hold: The Tengu Rite of the Last Candle (Fate Core)

Last night did a number on me.  But alas, the blog must go on!  #Crux post today.  One of players had a Tengu character in our Crux game I've been running.  The player and I conspired and killed off the character- I could write a whole article on how to do that correctly- but it left me wondering, how do the Tengu conduct a funeral?  What are the dangers if it goes wrong?  Do they have enemies that want Tengu souls to not reincarnate?

Anway, enjoy.  And as always, thanks for reading! :D

Tengu Rite of the Last Candle

When Tengu die, the deceased Tengu's clan prepare a series of ceremonies.  Immediately after death, if there is a body, Clerics of the North Wind provide ice, while Clerics of the West Wind moisten the beak of the dead, and Clerics of the East Wind prepare wards against impure spirits on the body.  Each clan maintains its own shrine to one of the four winds.  At these shrines, the clan decorates a table with flowers, incense and a candle for each person the dead spirit still might have business with- often close friends.

Almost every Tengu who visits the shrine in memory of the deceased wears some form of white.  Guests to the shrine often bring gifts to the Tengu's clan, most often some form of condolence money.  At the wake, the rite of the Last Candle is performed.  A Cleric of each wind recites a sutra from the Tengu's life or one of their past lives.  Once each sutra has been chanted, each person that might still tie the Tengu to this world, each lights a candle.  After lighting the candle, they must say their goodbye or recite some memory shared with the deceased.

Once a candleholder has said their piece, the candle's flame will shift to blue.  Once all the candles are lit, the spirit of the deceased is allowed to move on.  To rejoin the great wheel and reincarnate into the next generation of Tengu.  The body is cremated and stored in the Clan's gardens.  Tengu do not maintain gravestones or memorials for their dead; instead, if the deceased warranted enough to be remembered, a shrine will be created in their honor.

Yokengu: "Children of the Ghost Wind"

Not all Tengu reincarnate.  The failure to succeed at the Rite of the Last Candle can cause their spirit to become lost.  These spirits are the yokengu, Children of the Ghost Wind.  If the last candle lit does not free the spirit to rejoin the great wheel, leaves them bound to this world.  Yokengu see this as their own failure, their own inability to communicate what they've left undone.

Even centuries of being stuck as Ghosts leaves them loyal to their clan.  Yokengu often observe and watch their descendants from the Clan shrine or Clan garden.  Some Tengu will consult them from time to time, but most Tengu try not to acknowledge them.  This is out of fear of drawing out the shame that such lost souls might have.  It is the most basic respect they know of.

Those Yokengu who become separated from their clan, their spirits tend to grow mad.  Shame and anger at not reincarnating cause them to become more and more harmful to the living.  Yokengu whose madness takes over them are called Pregaki.  They hunger.  Pregaki try to push and drive the living around them to help sate their own hunger.  It isn't uncommon for Pregaki to work to keep the living from reaching their desires either.

Pregaki are what Yokengu fear becoming.  Pregaki are mad, lonesome spirits who are driven to malovolence.  They are worthy of pity.  Tengu often make offerings of food and drink to Pregaki, always hoping to help them find some form of calm.

Pregaki Aspects: Hungry Ghost; You Will Be Lost Too!; Eat, Eat, Never Satisfied!
Yokengu Aspects: Banned From the Great Wheel; Trapped With the Living; Ghost Tengu

Oni.

These beings enjoy interrupting or corrupting the Rite of the Last Candle for Tengu.  The Oni, as a folk, hold hatred for the Tengu.  The Oni as a people were massacred by the Tengu thousands of years ago.  Binders of demons and ghosts, the Oni became a folk of all ghosts.
Artist's page can be found here.

A folk who remember the Tengu that murdered them.  Oni often are banished and warded away by the Tengu.  But the nature of the Rite of the Last Candle gives the Oni ways to creep through wards that otherwise would be closed to them.  They can interfere with the funeral of a Tengu, espeically one that opposed the Oni's own efforts to find reincarnation.

Oni often have complex schemes.  They are willing to learn or even manipulate non-Tengu to achieve their own ends.  The can chain and bind Pregaki to their service.  One or two mightly Oni Hari (Monarchs) command entire kingdoms of Ghost-slaves, bound to their will.  Tengu Shugenja often work against these, as all Tengu are certain the Oni are manifestations of the fifth wind.

Oni themselves struggle to find a way to reincarnate.  Nothing they've done has succeeded.  Worse, Oni must find Pregaki and other ghosts to enslave.  Without a ghost-slave, an Oni's spirit can be hunted down by one of the Riders.  Riders are servants of one of the many Hells.  They and their hounds emerge once every full moon.  Riders hunt Oni, dragging them back to hell- unless the Oni has managed to find another to take their place.  In Crux, Oni have found new sources of ghosts, and perhaps, ways to reincarnate the Tengu can't bar them from.

Oni Aspects: Ghost-Chained; I Serve the Hari; Damn The Tengu; "I Will Take You Down With Me."