Path of the Ninefold Way
Headquarters: Imperial Capital
Current Leader: Emperor Zha Duhn, 39th Son of Heaven
Temple Ship: Heichao (Togetherness with the Current)
Leader: Mèng Heming (Ships Captain)Kung Fu Style:
There are two main styles associated with Monks of the Path, Divine Fists and Lion Dance Kung-fu. Divine Fists specialises in fast blows of the fists and feet and disabling techniques, allowing monks to swiftly incapcitate their foes. Lion Dance Kung-fu is a fluid style, emphasizing grace and subtle movements to distract and confound an enemy before launching a brutal and final counter assault. The sytle is usually unarmed but training with swords and flexible chain weapons is included.Location:
In the Capital, located within the Palace Walls lies the Grand Temple of Heaven, the largest temple of the Ninefold Way. Hunderds of monks pray here everyday and a constant stream of worshipers filter through the three wings of the temple. A number of Lion Dancer troupes perform daily for the Emperor and his court.Overview:
The Path of the Ninefold Way is the official religion of the Empire. As the descendent and representative of the Jade Emperor in Heaven, the Emperor Zha Duhn, 39th Son of Heaven is the Leader of the Church as well as the Empire. The Nine Ways correspond to the eight Leaders of The Heavenly Bureaucracy and the World Dragon itself.
Life – Qin
Meditation – Tang
Inner Strength – Shang
Future – Heavenly Emperor
Death – Lo Pan
Magic – World Dragon
Knowledge – Xia
Protection – Zhou
Awareness – Han
Each Temple of the Path has three large wings. The nine walls of the wings will have an altar for each Way of the Ninefold Path are always grouped; Life, Meditation, Inner Strength in the East wing, Future Death and Magic in the North, Knowledge, Protection and Awareness to the West. This way the Heavenly Emperor and the World Dragon can always watch over Lo-Pan.
The Temple ship for the Ninefold Way in the First Fleet of the Armada has each “wing” built in a cargo deck with two large bulkheads; the west wing is aft, north amidships and east in the stern.
Temples of the Path are also home to troupes of Lion Dancers. Each temple usually has three troupes that compete in friendly rivalry. Lion Dancers perform at all the major festivals throughout the year. The Highlight being the New Year Dance during which rival troupes will compete for prominence for the coming year.Style:
Monks and Lion Dancers of the Path travel from province to province, bringing hope, culture and law to the population. A Monk of the Path will often solve family and neighbourhood disputes, giving them a reputation for fairness and wisdom.Common Farewell:
“Heaven watch over you.”Membership Requirements:
Temples of the Path will take in anyone who wishes to learn but only those that prove they have the wisdom and dedication can become Monks. Lion Dancers must apprentice from a young age to gain entry to the Troupe and prove their capablility to the temple elders.
Headquarters: Tianzhu Peak, Hubei Province.
Current Leader: Master Tianxing
Temple Ship: Dafeng (Grand Peak)
Leader: Tu Shu Fang (Ships Captain)Kung Fu Style:
Wu-Tang is famous for its Tai Chi style Kung Fu that provides balanced attack and defence through contemplation and mastery over the cosmic energies of Yin and Yang. Their hand-to-hand combat system is known as Boundless Fists, and their legendary Divine Sword techniques, employing the Temple Sword, are unmatched throughout The Empire.Location:
Wu Tang Shan, located in Hubei Province, is a breath-taking mountain range with seventy-two peaks. On Tianzhu Peak, the highest among them, sits the central Taoist monastery. There, in the courtyard, members of Wu-Tang, the Order of the Divine Sword, practice their legendary Tai Chi.Overview
Wu-Tang is a discipleship of Tai Chi practitioners who serve as living instruments of the divine justice inherent in The Tao, symbolized by the sacred Yin and Yang. Wu-Tang is also referred to as the “Way of the Divine Sword” because their disciples hone their minds, hearts and bodies to become as one with their swords.“I am a swordsman without peer throughout The Empire!”
The siren song in the heart of each Wu-Tang disciple is supreme confidence as he proclaims his superior skill. Unwavering confidence, based on sound training, ensures success without fear from contemplation and guarantees victory by ignoring any obstacle blocking its achievement.“The sword kills, not the disciple.”
The disciples believe that, to be a well-honed pupil, one must surrender himself and his steel to the will of The Tao, which brings unbiased justice to the world in the guise of cause and effect. Therefore, a student who has mastered the techniques of his weapon serves merely as a capable, neutral instrument, standing ready to act against the darker intentions of his opponent. Since the disciple has freed himself of intention and does nothing but calmly react to the destructive urges of an opponent, the opponent’s death causes no bad karma.
Those dedicated to the precepts of Wu-Tang believe that a balanced cosmos demands justice through retribution against evil. Therefore evildoers throughout The Empire are especially wary of Wu-Tang disciples.“Each disciple embodies Five Elements, Three Treasures, and One Sword.”
A Wu-Tang disciple’s successful path requires meditation on The Tao and the Yin and Yang, as ascribed through an understanding of The Five Elements and Three Treasures that underlie Tai Chi swordsmanship. The ultimate goal is to become an immortal instrument at one with The Tao.Style:
“Divine Sword” disciples are proud, brave and, above all else, noble. A disciple would lose a limb to save a fellow disciple, duel at the slightest provocation, or bloody a commoner who dared belittle the name of the order.
“Yin and Yang have no beginning nor end, creation and destruction reside in the ways in which they bend and yield to one another.”
“What is firmly grasped cannot slip away.”
“One sword takes life while another gives it back.”
“Sound sword and sharp mind.”Membership Requirement:
One needs to undergo a series of quests to become a disciple of Wu-Tang, only becoming a fully-fledged member once the Masters are satisfied with your abilities and dedication.
Headquarters: Mount Song Shan, Zhongyuan Province.
Current Leader: Fachang, Iron Crane Elder
Temple Ship: Huayang (Positive Force of The People)
Leader: Long An (Ships Captain)Kung Fu Style:
Iron Crane monks are famous for their unarmed Iron Hands Style Kung Fu. Upholding their belief in human goodness, they learn to master defensive techniques and disabling moves, and prefer using unbladed weapons to avoid unnecessary killing.Location:
Song Shan is the Central Mountain among the Five Great Mountains of Zhongyuan Province. Great pilgrimages are made here by pilgrims to visit the holy Iron Crane Temple, home to the much-admired Iron Crane Order.Overview:
Iron Crane is a strict discipleship of all male Monks, sometimes referred to as “The Noble Order,” because their disciples demonstrate righteousness and mercy in all their deeds.“A disciple of Iron Crane must vow to reform evil when he finds it and to bring peace where he can.”
They believe that even the worst evildoers can be reformed through the order’s light. When proven false, the fault lies not in their opponents, but within themselves.“You should not take life, make others take life, or take delight in death.”
To become a student of Iron Crane, you first need to rid yourself of ego. Passing Iron Crane’s gates, and earning discipleship, means giving up all worldly possessions, vanity, and selfish desire. Then one must commit to endless meditation upon the Heavenly Emperor’s merciful teachings. Coinciding with this, one must make a suitable temple of one’s own body where the Heavenly Emperor’s seed may thrive.
“Take this body and hone its endurance and skill to defend those who cannot defend themselves, so that they too may thrive. Then die with the true understanding that ego is emptiness, and all life is one.” p. Never before has an order held fast to such noble purposes.Style:
These disciples are merciful monks, thoughtful and reflective, residing in harmony, and gentle in their speech and movements, unless provoked to righteous action—in which case they are harsh and swift in their dealings of justice or punishment.
“Always hold the Heavenly Emperor’s mercy at the forefront of your mind.”
“The path to the Heavenly Emperor is a seed within you. All you need to do is water it.”
“Orders rise and fall, yet Iron Crane remains as the spiritual light for The Empire.”
“Never forget that all life is precious.”Membership Requirement:
When one joins one is required to shave one’s head in the name of piety, cast off one’s worldly clothes and don the simple robes of a disciple. In time honoured tradition, only men are permitted to join Iron Crane.
Headquarters: Cavernous Lair in the mountainous of Shanxi Province
Current Leader: Enchanting Soul, Matriarch of Phoenix
Temple Ship: Phoenix do not have any temple ships in the fleetKung Fu Style:
The female disciples of Phoenix overcome their male opponents’ raw physical power by using illusion, poisons, venoms and long-distance attacks whenever possible. Flying wheels, throwing stars and daggers are preferred weapons over swords, poles and sabres. Summoning Arts and Soul Siphoning arts are two of the more arcane martial arts of Phoenix.Location:
Rumour has it that somewhere in the mountains of Shanxi Province, there is a secret cave entrance covered in purple mist. Hunters whisper that this is the lair of Phoenix, an order of beautiful, deadly, female masters.Overview:
A legendary female warrior, The Mistress of Chaos, founded the Phoenix when she was denied entrance to the male-dominated Iron Crane Temple. It is said that, “From every action comes an equal and opposite reaction,” and from that act of discrimination rose an order of beautiful, deadly, female masters. Their motto: “If men rule the world, women must rule men!” These women know they are not equally matched with men as far as brute strength is concerned, and so Phoenix’s Kung Fu techniques are based on seduction, speed and illusion, reinforced with all manner of poisons and venoms. Their weapons of choice are daggers, whips and throwing stars. Disciples of Phoenix train night and day to restore the holy balance of Yin and Yang. If the task requires bloodshed, so be it! Arcane powers are taught to Disciples by the Mistress of Cloud, a powerful sorceress.“Do not utter the name of the Holy Mistress in the presence of men. Her name holds power which must not tarnished by their foul thoughts.”
The disciples of Phoenix despise the male-dominated beliefs of Iron Crane, and believe the Wu-Tang has desecrated the Yin and Yang symbol, to suggest that women (symbolized by Yin) encompass all the darker, negative aspects of the universe. Phoenix thereby opposes them both as they strive to raise women’s current status in society with their fervent cult-like beliefs. The disciples’ revealing clothing is justified as a means to entreat, allure, and conquer men by enchantment. So what is perceived as feminine weakness becomes part of their strength.“Wipe that smile off your face. I am a commander of Phoenix. To leer at me is to invite the wrath of hidden women everywhere. They are where you work, where you drink, in your household. The Mistress has no mercy for those who cross her daughters.”
Disciples of Phoenix are mindful in all things of the spirit and will of The Mistress of Chaos. While they invite you to become entranced by their beauty, bear in mind that this attraction will be used to dominate, humiliate, or kill you. Since common women in this male-dominated Empire are given little or no voice, Phoenix disciples act as their champions. Because illusion was a revered practice of The Mistress, many disciples have made grave personal sacrifices over the past ten years to insert themselves into society, as wives, mothers, concubines, going even so far as donning the robes of other orders. The role of these hidden disciples is to control men from behind closed doors and between silken sheets, and disseminate important information back to the order. In short, it is Phoenix’s mission to control the men who control The Empire.Style:
Although these disciples may speak with a soft tongue to those whom they would seduce and destroy, they do not mince words among themselves. They will not allow admission to a woman who is perceived to be of weak mind or soft will. Failure is not tolerated and mere question of the will of The Mistress is grounds for expulsion. These women protect helpless females, but show no mercy toward helplessness within their order. When the disciples aren’t spying or fighting, they’re either training or meditating on the occult teachings that were transcribed to them by The Mistress of Cloud herself, who was said to be channelling knowledge from a plethora of arcane spirits.
“If men rule the world, women must rule men!”
“Let daggers fly through the moonlit sky.”
“Will of The Mistress be done.”Membership Requirement:
A prospective initiate must consume one of two Pills Of The Mistress, one blue and one red, to test one’s “purity of soul.” If you (or your soul guide) choose the correct pill, you will survive and be accepted to the order. If you choose the wrong one, you will die.
Headquarters: Cavernous Lair deep inside Mount Yanmo
Current Leader: Soul Catcher, High Priest of Tiger Claw
Temple Ship: Tiger Claw do not have any temple ships in the fleetKung Fu Style:
Tiger Claw’s Kung Fu techniques were stolen and perverted from other disciplines, and also combined with occult rituals. Sabres are preferred over swords, and for hand-to-hand combat, disciple’s master Bloody Claws technique, the most deadly combat system ever conceived.
Whilst swords are often associated with chivalry and orthodoxy, sabres are often linked with a more chaotic or independent nature.Location:
Travelers, due to its treacherous cliffs and lava valleys, avoid Mount Yanmo. But the nearby villagers have much greater fears. They know that deep inside the mountain there exists a demonic cult of warriors known as the Tiger Claw Order.
Overview:“An Empire governed by the depraved must be conquered through depraved justice, only through fire may it be cleansed!”
A cruel, ambitious warrior who, in defiance of The Imperial Emperor and his court, proclaimed himself The Emperor Tiger Claw founded the Tiger Claw Order. He waged unholy war against all governing factions. It is whispered by many that Tiger Claw truly was possessed by demons as a child, and certainly any who had witnessed his ferocity in battle, would attest that this was true.“This world is a will to power, nothing more!”
Disciples of Tiger Claw have surrendered to their own darker natures and yielded their nobility to his cause. In return for their loyalty and bloodshed, Tiger Claw’s disciples have been granted tremendous power and martial art skill from a variety of occult sources. Marshalling their dark skills, Tiger Claw led the order to victory upon victory against The Imperial Emperor and his troops in many of The Provinces, for a time controlling more than half of The Empire. Only The Sundering stopped Tiger Claw from complete domination and his seizure of the Imperial capitol.“I pray to witness the resurrection of Tiger Claw in this lifetime.”
Following The Sundering, word was spread by Soul Catcher, Tiger Claw’s High Priest, that the master was slain, and by his own decree, signed in blood, the order was to release its hold on all seized territories and seal its doors until such time as he returned. With much reluctance, they did so, returning to their stronghold at Mount Yanmo. As they continue to train and practice the dark arts their master passed down to them, some await his prophesized return, while others attempt to usurp his power.Style:
Disciples of Tiger Claw are ruthless warriors who believe themselves to be above the laws of The Empire. Without mercy they maraud and seize power in the name of their leader, The Emperor Tiger Claw. Masked and deadly they are as secretive and mysterious as any religious cult. Lower level disciples who join the order are often those who hold a dark karma within them, one that would not be welcomed in any righteous temple. They do not understand why they are drawn to the eternal fire of Tiger Claw, but once they begin the training, they know there is no turning back. Higher-level disciples, who have had a taste of true occult power, often become so ruthless and bloodthirsty they proclaim themselves actual demons.
The mask of a disciple is called a Padan, and it serves three purposes: One, it offers homage to the ceremonial masks that Zorastrian priests wore to shield their breath from touching the Sacred Fire. Two, it promotes secrecy by shielding identity. Three, it escalates the amount of terror in an opponent.
“The warriors road to heaven often leads through hell.”
“Fear is a word our enemies know well.”
“Crusade in the name of The Emperor!”Membership Requirement:
One needs to undergo a series of quests to become a disciple of Tiger Claw, only becoming a fully-fledged member once the Masters are satisfied with your ruthlessness and commitment to Tiger Claw’s teachings.