Friday, February 16, 2018

Patreon Post - the Five Elders of the Shaolin

I base my psi-wars material on numerous sources, from history to real-world philosophies and religions to legends to other sci-fi or fantasy works.  And for me, the stories of the Jedi reminded me strongly of the story of the Shaolin monastery, and this connection only strengthened the more I read up on the Shaolin monastary's history and the legends that surround it.

For psi-wars, I've borrowed numerous elements, but in particular the five shaolin elders.  I thought you, dear patron, might be interested in what I found. While it's no more than what anyone could do with a basic internet search, I find this sort of compilation provides a great deal of context to the uninitiated (like myself).  And if you share anything of my love of kung fu films, I think you'll enjoy this.  But to up the ante a little, I've explicitly discussed the psi-wars connection, and thus this document contains a little more detail on the elders of the Knights of Communion; I've also "broken up" the Shaolin Martial Art from GURPS Martial Arts into (only a few) subsidiary styles to give them greater clarity, and I've discussed how the five elders connect to other styles found in GURPS Martial Arts. Finally, I've included a new martial art, White Eyebrow Boxing.

If you're a patron, check it out! It's available to all $1+ patrons. If you're not a patron, as always, I'd be delighted to have you.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Annara or Traditional Keleni Communion

Keleni traditionalists call Annara the pure form of Communion, the one that Keleni practiced in the past and still practice today. This may or may not be true; evidence suggests that the ancestral form of Communion gave rise to both Annara and True Communion, and that each has a piece of the original.

Annara, the Kelen word for “Communion,” (or more accurately, total unity of all things, or a sense of transcendence gained from feeling connected to all things), focuses more strictly on the natural telepathy of the Keleni people. It cultivates unity through telepathy and connection with one’s ancestors, and trains the Keleni in empathy for all beings, Alien or Keleni, sapient or animal. It also cultivates the ancient tradition of prophecy that traces its lineage back to the dawn of the Keleni faith-philosophy.

Unlike True Communion, Annara retains traditional Communion trappings, such as “folk healer” exorcisms and esoteric medicine. They also often learn Religious Rituals to better serve their community. Dogmatic traditionalists may teach their followers to fight with the resonance staff, and ancient Keleni weapon, but many also teach the force sword.

The intent focus on Keleni matters means that followers often learn a great deal about the language, history and culture of the Keleni. It also means that the religion attracts religious fanatics and xenophobic traditionalists. Many practitioners of True Communion hold Annara in awe, seeing it as the “lost half” of Communion secrets, but non-Keleni often find it difficult to win the trust of a Keleni master well enough to learn the style.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

True Communion as Esoteric Skill

A True Communion disciple first learns to meditate. True Communion teaches that, through introspection, self-knowledge and self-discipline, one can begin to understand the world around him. They learn to listen to their own inner voice, then to their instincts, then to Communion itself. Through obedience to Communion, they can learn who they truly are, how they connect to the world, and what their true purpose is. Once one has mastered this art, the next step is to teach others. Teaching methods vary, but True Communion strongly favors teaching through example, riddles and challenges. It seeks to get the student to discover a principle for himself, rather than to simply be told something that they will soon forget, or learn only superficially. By teaching others, the student masters Communion more deeply and, more importantly, learns to connect with his own students and thus finds himself in an unbroken chain of masters and pupils extending back to the birth of True Communion.

True masters of Communion have deeply powerful meditative techniques that allow them to reach a trance-like, to empower their connection with Communion, and to even regain their psychic energy more quickly. They learn to discard their own selfish needs and, as they become more attuned to Communion, to become more attuned to their community around them and to being to understand the deepest secrets of spirituality. Those who masters the art of teaching, according to legend, have the ability to unlock the psionic potential of anyone, and can even teach those forever locked away from Communion to overcome their limitations and join the greater galactic gestalt.

The galaxy will forever associate True Communion with the Templars, and so many monasteries and temples also teach the force sword as part of True Communion. Most also teach the history of the faith, or give insight into the holy places and relics of the faith. Communion often holds that inner knowledge can come from dreams, and those who believe this teach their students to interpret their dreams.

This form of Communion is the Communion of the Templars and the one most commonly practiced across the galaxy. It is assumed to be the “default” form of True Communion.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Tinker Titan Rebel Spy: After Action Report for Session 3

Another month means another session of Tinker Titan Rebel Spy!  What happened last session?  The players finally found made planet-fall, interacted with a new faction, began to unleash the first salvo in their machinations, finally met Director Thorn and then faced the occult might of the Ash Walkers under the baleful, all-seeing gaze of the Prophet of Grist: Cog Thonis, fighting him in the shadow of the Black Pyramid.

If you want additional details, my players have written detailed summaries.  As usual, I'll be talking about the session from behind the GM's chair and as the designer of Psi-Wars itself.  I also have some advice for people who want to play Action in general.

The detailed summaries are:

Thursday, February 8, 2018

The Symbols and Rituals of True Communion


Aniconism

True Communion believes that depictions of the supernatural, be they idols or symbols, tend to unduly distract one from his inner journey in understanding the world. One can hold onto an idol, put his faith in that idol, and forget that the physical thing he holds is an illusion, nothing worth having faith in. Moreover, once the divine is given a face, people begin to forget its cosmic qualities and begin to overly humanize it. Thus, True Communion often, though not universally, chooses to eschew any symbolism at all.

True Communion symbolism tends to focus on things that naturally guide on to right and proper conclusions. They tend to be known by their tools and their words, rather than their great idols or symbols. Thus, the temples of True Communion tend to be remarkable bare of baroque imagery, favoring instead creating a place of profound peace and introspection, a natural place where one can lose himself in his own introspection.

This is not a strict taboo, however. The Keleni traditionalists are more likely to eschew imagery than human/alien traditions, as Traditionalists believe that True Communion and Keleni culture go hand in hand. Alien traditions, especially human traditions, feel the need to differentiate themselves from others and humans especially, caught up in their empires and factions, feel the need to have some symbol of their faith that they can point to. Even more extreme versions, such as the cults inspired by True Communion found within the Divine Masks tradition, absolutely have idols, but arguably have fallen far from what True Communion stands for.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Beliefs of True Communion

  1. Everyone matters, no matter how lowborn
  2. We are defined by our connections with others.
  3. True knowledge can be found within, by listening to one’s intuition and accepting the morality one already knows in their heart.
  4. The “real” world is an illusion; only the “inner world” of thought, dream, perception and connection is “real.”
  5. All people are but facets of an infinite cosmic divinity; through introspection, we can understand the infinite cosmic and understand how it connects all people together.
  6. Virtue is found through aligning one’s self with the will of Communion, and in accepting one’s true purpose in life, one’s destiny.
  7. Time is as much an illusion as the world: there is only the Eternal Now.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Patreon Preview: the Keleni

What the Ranathim were to the Divine Masks and the Cult of the Mystical Tyrant, the Keleni are to True Communion.  This naturally telepathic and compassionate species first discovered their inherent interconnection with one another, but rejected their inherent interconnection with all other species, for the other races of the Galaxy treated them poorly.  Their heretics brought their faith and power to the other races, but the Keleni continue, scattered across the galaxy, struggling to maintain their identity and yearning for a chance to return to their temple worlds.

Today, I have a Patreon Preview of the Keleni race, for all $3+ patrons. It includes their racial template, a few power-ups, a discussion of their culture, language and a few pieces of concept art.  If you're a patron, thank you for your support, and feel free to check it out.  If you're not, I'd love to have you!
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