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 Dharma: Thrashing Dragons, Lotus and Incense

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yanamari

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PostSubject: Dharma: Thrashing Dragons, Lotus and Incense   Thu Sep 09, 2010 2:26 pm

Like trees, the Laughing Rainbows of the Thrashing Dragon Dharma rise out of the fertile ground and unite it with the raging sky. These vampires are as alive as the undead can be. Bursting with life-energy, the followers of the Green Way resemble forces of nature -- too powerful to be silenced, too vivid to be real.

Moved by a life-force too potent to be caged, these Dragons thrash around like restless serpents. Their insights come through flesh-vigils and forest musing. As far as they're concerned, creation is a rainbow -- illusory, but too colorful to ignore. In its colors, they see the unity and symmetry of Heaven. The idea, as the Dragons see it, is to experience each of those colors as vividly as possible. As lovers of the Scarlet Queen, they embody her life-force; as cousins of the Ebon Dragon, they beat him into submission or perish trying.

As a rule, Laughing Rainbows are messy and vulgar, indulging themselves with wild feasts and drunken orgies -- celebrations that usually feature living "entertainment," too. Thailand, Cambodia and Malaysia hide Rainbow temples so infamous that even vampires avoid them. The Thrashing Dragon path isn't evil per se, but the Way's aggressive approach to life usually includes fucking it from every conceivable angle, willingly or otherwise.

Naturally, these Kuei-jin do more than just copulate. Shunning society's restrictions, they explore life's lush infinities through martial arts and Tantrik practices. Since life assumes ten thousand forms, most Thrashing Dragons master shapeshifting arts. To run with the animals you must become one first.

Study requires suitable subjects. While the remote Bone Flower drifts across her graveyard, the Thrashing Dragon capers in the cities, forests and seas. His ferocity draws other creatures to his side, and many willingly join his dance. Charismatic as a tiger, this vampire reveres his victims even as he drains their living blood. The vessel is divine to the Rainbow path -- more divine than the Demon who consumes it. When the feast is over, he performs a thanksgiving rite. It's important to honor the keepers of Yang, even as you escort them to the other side.

The Thrashing Dragon Way is highly animistic. Looking deep into nature, each Rainbow sees the spirits beneath life's skin, and he honors them with thanks, gifts and rites. Truly skilled Dragons can move beyond the Wall and speak to the spirits in their own tongue; a younger one simply recognizes the kami and grants them respect. in his calmer moments, a Thrashing Dragon can be gentle and compassionate. Like wood, he grows tall and strong, yet bends before snapping. He nurture life, yet feeds on it without remorse. His Way is to keep the Cycle fresh. Training: Before their deaths, many Thrashing Dragons denied the flesh. All their repressions blow sky-high when the karmic debt comes due. Some ferociously carnal people do return to finish what they started in life, but most Laughing Rainbows learned to laugh only after they died. Tantrik postures feature prominently in Dragon rites. By coupling with a living partner, the vampire shifts her energy to his own, then refines it into potent Chi -- the life-force many once denied.

Weakness: As could be expected, Thrashing Dragons are shameless, impulsive, lusty and violent. Most go naked, or nearly so, and delight in smashing social customs. Confrontation is enlightenment to these vampires, and they go out of their way to enlighten everyone in the vicinity.
This voraciousness doesn't end with sex; the hunger takes a literal turn in the Thrashing Dragon philosophy. Greedy for Yang, these creatures often eat their prey raw (and usually alive). Although it has been said that Laughing Rainbows are cannibalistic, they stop short of eating vampires. The average Dragon would find diablerie as repulsive as eating a bloated dead cat.
Beneath the revelry, however, many Dragons hate themselves. In a way, their hunger is a denial of what they have become. By consuming life-force, they secretly hope to undo their curse; it doesn't work, but they keep trying. Needless to say, these appetites have not made the sect any friends; Buddhist vampires find the Thrashing Dragons especially repulsive and often bar Laughing Rainbows from their courts.
Affiliations: Wood, the number 3, the color green and the east direction
Auspicious Omens and Symbols: Rainbows, thunderstorms, blooming flowers, blood, yoni and lingam symbols


What Am I?
While the other Dharma reek of purpose and fit into their roles quite nicely, it is hard to precisely define what the Dragons’ goals are. Cranes are the leaders/upholders of the traditions, Bone Flowers are the scholars, Devil-tigers are the righteous psychopaths and the Thousand Whispers are the actors/performers. But what exactly are the Dragons.

Even though many might think so, they are not debased sex-aholics. Nor are they ravers that party all night long with no care in the world. True, they do use sex and drugs as gateways into enlightenment, but these do not define them.

To the dragons, they are simply dead things. Dead things that must suck the life force from others in order to continue living a dead life. The Thrashing Dragons are the only Dharma to reflect on this fact in depth, but such is their way. While others run around trying to live up to history, punish the wicked or live a thousand lives, the Dragons ponder the truth of being one the hungry dead and have found that only through enlightenment can they be truly freed and regain their place in the Maya (the Celestial Circle of Life).

It’s My (Un)Life and Body!
Yes, the door to enlightenment has many keys, but which do you use to open it. You may open it with knowledge from past lives, or long intellectual studies on death, maybe even through the command of demonic servitors. Or maybe enlightenment is as simple as smile, a laugh or a hug.
When you join the Dance of the Thrashing Dragon, you must be ready to live, love and learn from life. The study of the Yang virtue is the most important thing, and study it they do. Be it the study of yang through sex at their various orgies or the study of life’s frailty from suffering a debilitating disease, the Thrashing Dragons do it with an open mind and soul.

Another aspect of the dharma is to be unlike a ravaging beast and more like a predator. Mandarins of this dharma have been described as whirlwinds of bestial Yang energy. “A wolf or tiger cannot become bodhisattva” Thousand Crane Mother teaches. You must live in the world instinct, but do not forget that you not an animal, or the chih mei state is your likely destination.

But one of the more important rules to being a Dragon is to understand that you are an undead thing and that it is a curse. And in understanding this fact, knowing that you can never be truly alive again (where the Flame of the Rising Phoenix gets it wrong). Many believe that this understanding leads to the conclusion that any discipline or experience that would take advantage of your undead state is in violation to the Dharma. That would rule out (and get ready for the gasp) Flesh Shintai. GASP! But what’s a Thrashing Dragon without Flesh Shintai. Well, don’t fret. The leader of the dharma, Thousand Crane Mother, made an announcement called Scattering the Seeds. In this recitation, she not only opened the dharma to sects, but stated that as long as the corpse body was used for the purposes of enlightenment it was OK to utilize it.

But as nothing but a corpse, the Dragon can feel only portions of what the truly living beings can. Sex feels half as good, it takes a 5 times as much drugs to affect you (whew, the bill!) and, unless you are imbalanced toward Yang, you are immune to disease. This is an important thin to understand when play a Dragon.

Dhampyr & Yang Imbalance
The Half-damned are a viable source of enlightenment for a Thrashing Dragon. What is the best way to experience life, then to create it (Even in an undead body)? Another lesson usually comes from the raising of the child as well. To the Dragons, the Dhampyr is less a servant and more a vessel for knowledge. Creating life, watching it grow and nurturing it; now that’s enlightenment. It is suggested by the teachers of the dharma that younger Kuei-jin wait until further along their dharmic path to take this route. Many running monkeys try and experience too much in too little time, leaving themselves spent on experiences. This usually leads to falling from one’s dharmic path. The greatest ways to achieve the hundred clouds is always suggested for later, which is why sex and drugs are used more in the younger years.

Another useful aspect of Yang imbalance is the ability to contract diseases. I know what you are saying, “How is that a good thing?” Here’s how. Experiencing the pain, suffering or even just shear annoyance of some diseases can open up doors to enlightenment. This is another route that is suggested for later in un-life.

Sects
Laughing Rainbows: These are your traditional Thrashing Dragons and is the most widely participated sect of them all. Its leader is Thousand Crane Mother, the bodhisattva of the dharma, who still resides in South China. Her lesson is to be like a 3-legged dog. Does the dog sit and mourn the time when it had 4 legs? No, he simply goes on with his life as best he can. The Kuei-jin must do the same, even though they are removed from the Maya.
Passion Bloodflowers: The sect of the Dragons of the Golden Courts is one of much speculation. Many believe its lessons undermine the fundamental teachings of the dharma. It teaches bestial and aggressive behavior but seems to work under the guidance of the Penangallan. If you are hungry, eat. If you’re horny, fuck. Fight if you are in a corner, but make sure that you either win or get away to fight another day.
Thousand-Faced Thunder Sect: Back in the day, in the beginning of technology, the feeble and weak spirits of electronics and machinery were yet to be recognized by the spirit courts. With the help of a few urban and entrepreneurial Thrashing Dragons, they were accepting into the courts and looked upon as equals. Now, those of the Thousand-Faced Thunder Sect have an alliance with these spirits.
Ten Seasons Sect: Old Man Spider, the bodhisattva of this sect, discovered that enlightenment could be attained by cultivating “Garden of the Second Sort” and watching what happens. This means manipulating mortals into situations, simply to see how they react. Many do the same situation over and over again with different families to get a better lesson. This one is my favorite.
Tenets (a brief overview)
1. Attune yourself to life in all its forms: This is the basic premise of the entire Dharma. It teaches the disciple to attain enlightenment by understanding and experiencing the world and all other things in existence.
2. Meditate upon Passions; Do not shut them out, but experience them, learn from them and encourage them in others: This explains the tendency for Thrashing Dragons to indulge (even over-indulge) in physical sensation and their love of influence in others’ lives. This tenet is a favorite of the Ten Seasons Sect, who regularly toy with and manipulate mortals just to see what happens.
3. Use your power as a farmer employs his threshing tools; Break the stalks, gather the rice, scatter the seeds, let them grow: Do what you need to in order to attain enlightenment and do so without regret and without morals. But this is not just a license to kill, kill, kill. You must also give back to the Maya from which you took. For each death, maybe plant a sapling or tend a garden. These things balance out over time.
4. Help all living things thrive. When something appears to be dying, consume it and send it back into the cycle: This tenet allows for destruction of things that are static or dying. This tenet does not mean “hunt down all the old people and eat them,” although euthanasia would be you duty. It could pertain to mortals, as well as old buildings or even outdated social structures (think Camarilla).
5. Half-life is an abominable state. Be as alive as you can: This tenet is a reminder to a Dragon that they are not alive, but must experience as much life as possible to attain the hundred clouds.
6. Guide the sun up each morning. Sleep when it is risen: If there is one thing that won’t let you forget that you are normal, it’s the Sun. This tenet teaches the Dragon to feel a little of the sun’s warmth before resting. Heaven has not forgotten you. You are merely in the waiting room. With the right Rites, enlightenment can be reached using this tenet.
7. Laugh Often and help others to see the humorous shadows: Being a trickster is one example of this tenet put to use. Another is finding the humor in being attacked by an eight-armed, psycho Cyclops from the Hell of Split Milk. I’m laughing already.
8. Protect the spirits. Without them, the life-dance stops: This does not mean, protect only Yang Spirits. The Dragons fancy themselves protectors of the Maya and in turn the denizens of the Yin and Yang realms equally. Those who abuse spirits (like the Giovanni, for example) are looked at with disgust.
Suggested Disciplines

* Flesh Shintai (obviously)
* Yang Prana (even more obvious)
* Chi’iu Muh
* Iron Mountain

Portraying the Dharma
Playing a Thrashing Dragon is very hard to do and is very easy to make into a sex crazed caricature of what they really are. You must first remember that there is more to life than sex and drugs. They are all fine and good and do suit some characters, but the majority do one or the other or neither and very seldom both at the same time.

Remember also, that the Dragons are outnumbered and looked down on by all the other orthodox dharmas. Where do you think all the stereotypes came from. To the others, the Dragons are either expendable warriors or diplomats to send to the front lines in the many fights with the Hengeyokai. Only in the Golden Courts are they given the respect they are due under heaven. Of course, many are just too caught up the quest for the hundred clouds to care what other hungry dead think. But it will definitely have a part in the chronicle, if the story has lots of Kuei-jin social interaction.

One of my biggest pet peeves with the KoE system is the portrayal of the dharmas at lower levels. The goal of the Dance of the Thrashing Dragon is to become an Enlightened Instinctual Being of Life Energy. If your character upheld every tenet on every level all the time, they would already be there. But WOD games (especially Vampire) have always been about the character’s link to humanity. Here is a quick reference for how to handle lower levels of dharma rating. If you follow it, you can keep your players in check a lot better.

Dharma Level 1:Just above the chih mei state. A newbie Kuei-jin has all the same moral and standards that he did in life. So if your character was a librarian who went to hell for suicide, how likely is it that he would have an easy time convincing himself to kill the old man. Following the tenets at the first level can be very hard, because the dharma teachings loss of morals and regret which can be hard to let go of. I sometimes suggest a Willpower roll (difficulty Cool to see if they have it in them to kill innocents. If they kill someone in self defense, it doesn’t count.
Dharma Level 2: Having undergone a moment of enlightenment, the running monkey a tighter grip on what it means to be a vampire. The Willpower roll is difficulty 7 at this point.
Dharma Level 3: The feeling of the hundred clouds draws ever nearer and fills the still young Kuei-jin with the power to over come his reluctance. Willpower roll (difficulty 5).
Dharma Level 4+: At these levels, the character is removed enough from his mortal opinions to follow the codes of his tenets without problems.

Suggested Auspicious Occasions

* Giving Birth or Attending a Birth
* Suffering from or Dying from a Disease
* Guiding the Sun Up (with the appropriate rite)
* Observing natural occurrences (storms, rainbows, blooming flowers, etc.) from the Mirror Lands
* The sight of a 3-legged Dog
* Seeing that you have affected someone’s life for the better or worse, due to constant manipulation
* Giving more back than you’ve taken (take a life, plant a forest)
* Destroying something that is dying or is static (4th Tenet)
* Finding Humor in even the most grim situation
* Experiencing a huge adrenalin rush (hard to do when you’re dead)
* Rescuing a Spirit (Yin or Yang) from the hands of Yomi
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PostSubject: Re: Dharma: Thrashing Dragons, Lotus and Incense   Thu Sep 09, 2010 2:27 pm

Original Flesh Shintai Variants
Level 3 - Battering Tendrils
By combining a greater version of Long-Neck and a lesser version of Pelesit, the Kuei-jin is able to extend his arms into whip-like weapons. This power is yet another that was created and is used primarily by the Passion Blood Flowers Sect of the Thrashing Dragons dharma. It was developed as a discipline to avoid having to carry weapons. The spectacle of this power shocks most who see it, as do most Flesh Shintai powers.
System: The Kuei-jin spends 1 yang to change one arm or two to change both. They are transformed into whip-like tentacles at a length of 4 feet per point Stamina. The arms are considered to have +1 strength and now inflict lethal damage. This strength also applies to grabbing, squeezing and crushing your target, but must use Brawl rating for all rolls (cannot be used with Martial Arts).
If the character uses level 2 Flesh Shintai, Detach Limb, on one of his arms and expends the 1 yang required, the whip can be wielded (Dex+Melee) in the arm that was not changed. It will then inflict Strength+2 lethal and has an extended length of 6 feet per point of stamina, but cannot be used to grab, squeeze or crush unless it is reattached.
The effect lasts for a scene.
Level 4 - Tending Another’s Garden
The Vigorous Sculptors wu, Headquartered in northwestern China and made entirely of Thrashing Dragons, have made it their goal to heal the wounds put on their fellow Hungry Dead by the Tzimisce. By observing and trying to duplicate the Fiends’ Vicissitude, the Kuei-jin have discovered ways of manipulating not only their own bodies with Flesh Shintai, but now also the flesh of others.
As it is a poor imitation of Level 2 Vicissitude, Fleshcraft, the possible applications are limited and the process scalds as if the Kuei-jin’s hands were fire. And although useful, the use of this power can take from days to weeks to recover from. Not matter, many of the more conceited Kuei-jin visit the Sculptors in order to return to their former looks.
System: The player spends 4 Yang and rolls Dexerity + Body Crafts (difficulty 7 for shen, 8 for mortals). The process inflicts 6 levels of Aggravated damage - Minus 1 Health level of damage per success (i.e. if the player rolled 3 successes, the process would inflict 2 Agg.). At least 3 successes are needed to successfully complete the change. Any less leaves the target with many additional scars, not to mention the scars they were attempting to change. A botch means they can never heal the scars (even though they might heal the damage). The target of the discipline will also suffer a 2 die penalty to all rolls for 5 days minus one day each success on a Stamina roll (difficulty Cool.
This discipline is limited to healing only changes caused by Vicissitude, because as many know, the Kuei-jin have no way otherwise to heal it. It could be used to torture or interrogate, but must be done by a professional because otherwise the victim would die before any questions were even asked. Practitioners of this discipline must purchase the Body Crafts skill or difficulties (both the player’s and target’s) are raised by one.
Or
Level 4 Rite - Tending Another’s Garden
I have been toying around with the idea of Tending Another’s Garden, but couldn’t decide if it should be a discipline or a rite. But being an ST is all about choice, right? So to use this rite, the Kuei-jin must create a circle of blood and jade with symbols of Kaja around it (must know Kaja to learn ritual) and spend 5 Yang. It inflicts 4 aggravated to the subject and a 2 die penalty to all rolls for the next week. This ritual only corrects changes made due to Vicissitude. It will not heal wounds from any other source.
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