Kindred of the East: Crimson Empires
The Ritual of the Black Peony
The Ritual of the Black Peony, lvl 3
The ritual of the black peony is the most common means used to contact the Yama Kings. While there are other rituals that can serve the same purpose, this is the one most commonly used, because the ingredients are simple and evidence of the ritual is easily concealed. Other methods of contacting the Yama Kings, while perhaps surer, leave irrevocably damning evidence behind.
So named because of the manner in which it manifests, the black peony chant is a series of unnatural mantras and unharmonious meditative postures that must be performed over a period of several hours prior to the Kuei Jin adjourning for her day’s sleep. Over the course of several days, the vampire has increasingly severe nightmares of her torments in Yomi. When the ritual reaches its climax, the vampire is visited in her dreams by the yama king she wishes to treat with, or the servants thereof.
In game terms, the character must meditate for (6- Meditation difficulty) hours before bed. The player must then make a successful intelligence + occult roll (difficulty 8) and spend a point each of both demon chi and willpower as the character drifts off to sleep, in order to form the metaphysical link with Yomi Wan. On each successive night of the ritual, the character has increasingly terrible nightmares as dark spirits gnaw away at the veil between her dreaming mind and Yomi.
On sage described the process as similar to the way in which ants gradually gnaw away the peony buds and allow the flowers to blossom; hence the name of the rite. When the ritual has been successfully performed for a number of successive nights equal to the local Wall rating, the link with Yomi is complete and the character dreams of the desired Yama King or his servitor.
There are certain side effects of the ritual. Usually the character suffers the effects of the flaw: nightmares for up to a dozen nights after she successfully performs the ritual, and at the storyteller’s option, wicked spirits and other negative influences may be attracted to the area by the outpouring of Yomi energies. Note also that the ritual of the black peony is relatively safe. While teh vampire may negotiate and receive powers, only the most dreadfully inauspicious circumstances (such as botching the ritual’s intelligence + occult roll while on a defiled dragon’s nest) can open a true gate to Yomi or put the vampire’s soul in peril from something other than bad negotiation.
This ritual requires cooperation from both sides to succeed. As discussed earlier, the yama kings are not looking for fools or thugs; they have bakamono and demon servants for those roles. Vampires too young, unknown or inexperienced to have come to the notice of the princes of Yomi are likely to get nothing more from the ritual than bad dreams.
Yama kings may also choose not to come to the table with elderly vampires. Wise are the sages of the Wan Kuei, and the princes of Yomi are unwilling to allow themselves to be cheated mercilessly by those who understand their legal codes better than they themselves do. If the vampire has 10 or more dice in her intelligence + law pool, it is entirely possible that her summons will be ignored. It is certain that the yama kings will cease to respond to such vampire’s entreaties after the first time she sells some poor sap up the river with calculated ease during contract negotiations.
Because it is rare, strictly proscribed and potentially unbalancing to the game, characters cannot purchase this ritual with the rituals background unless given special permission from the storytellers to do so.