- It was obvious if you knew what to look for, thought the Princess Gwendolin as she watched the librarian. Nobody was that much of a stereotype: the clothing, the glasses, the hair bun, the ridiculous over-reaction to the slightest noise. It looked like it was very good at its job too, every book was exactly in its place, every student got exactly the material they needed. There was only one problem.
- “I hope you enjoyed working in a real library, but you have to give that body back now.”
Once the Radiant believed that the Amanojaku were a unique being, a strange mental parasite that resided within the Dreamlands seeking the opportunity to possess human bodies. Now they know better, Amanojaku are just Dreamlanders whose desire for a physical body is stronger than their ethics. Some are ordinary Dreamlanders who became obsessed with getting closer to the real concept that they reflect. Others are inhabitants of the Kingdom who wish to return to life, but fear the partial loss of self inherent in reincarnation. Rumour has it there’s even a Brat or two.
Most Dreamlanders consider the Amanojaku to be criminals who dabble in profane magics. Consequently most can be found in the wild regions of the Dreamlands, far from Dreamlander law and the eyes of the Radiant Queens. Others can be found among the brightest cities of the Dreamlands, lurking in the shadows as criminals have always done.
Since the Release, doorways, windows and cave mouths can be half-seen everywhere in the Dreamlands, in the corner of one’s eye or half-hidden behind a boulder. For most Dreamlanders these passages vanish if sought for, turning out to be shadows or optical illusions; for the Hopeful, they become real, and open into Crawlspace. In truth, though, these mysterious doors are the places where some human’s dreaming soul, yearning for the Light’s touch without knowing it, drifts against the bars of the Hopeful’s old prison. An Amanojaku can wrench one of the doors open, enter the dream of the mortal that lies behind it, and search it for his soul.
To open the path to someone’s soul, Amanojaku use magic similar to the Horn Gate variant of the Ivory Gate Charm, but without that Charm’s requirement for proximity or sympathetic connections; if the magic succeeds, the Amanojaku works his way down the Crawlspace passage. Amanojaku tactics range from subtle insinuation, disguising themselves as normal dream figures to reach the dreamer’s self, to brutal pursuit, warping the dream into a terrifying nightmare (forcing Doors always appears as the latter.) The Amanojaku rolls to open Doors by the Dreamlands’ time, which makes the impression level mostly irrelevant - though reaching a hostile impression forces the Amanojaku out of the dreamer’s mind and closes the gate.
At the end of the path the Amanojaku finds the dreamer’s consciousness. Here the dreamer has a chance to resist the invading entity; he assumes Dream Form and confronts the Amanojaku within a dreamed landscape. Play this out as a normal scene - many Amanojaku prefer violent assaults, but some employ deception or seductive promises. If the Amanojaku loses he must retreat to the Dreamlands and the passage closes; if he wins, he forces the dreamer up through Crawlspace to the Dreamlands. Occasionally Amanojaku have the luck to find a Crawlspace passage that’s standing open, because the owner has come into the Dreamlands already. When this happens there’s no need for magic to open the way - the Amanojaku just walks down the passage to its end.
Whether the Amanojaku finds the path to it or makes one, he needs one further magic to take possession of a vacant body: the Dreaming Exile version of Privy Counselor. Success with that Charm gives it the Usurping Condition, below.
Amanojaku cannot possess anyone but mundane characters and the Light-touched. They can take over people with supernatural Merits, but may use only powers that are open to the Nobility. The Amanojaku cannot gain supernatural Merits while bound to a host, either.
It’s quite possible for an Amanojaku to use Dreaming Exile to bind other Dreamlanders into vacant bodies; in fact, Amanojaku almost always work in gangs where only the leader knows both the necessary Charms. Hence the majority of Amanojaku found in human bodies are chorus members, put there by someone else’s magic.
Usurping Manifestation ConditionEdit
The Amanojaku with this Condition has ejected someone’s mind into the Dreamlands and is possessing the vacated body. The Amanojaku has access to the host’s memories and abilities. Initially, however, he has some trouble using them properly. Use the host’s non-supernatural traits - Attributes, Skills, Merits and advantages - except for Willpower; the Amanojaku keeps his own Willpower. At first, the Amanojaku takes a -3 penalty on Physical Skill rolls and a -4 penalty on Mental and Social Skill rolls.
To the host’s traits, though penalized, an actor Amanojaku adds some of his powers: Inner Light, Wisps, and Practical Magic. Most Amanojaku follow no Queen and are limited to the Practical Magic of the courtless ... but some of them follow Mirrors and have her Practical Magic instead. Actor Amanojaku also have the ability to spend Willpower when in danger to gain Wisps, like the Princesses’ Inner Strength. Chorus Amanojaku may not use Influences or Numina, but are protected from Essence bleed.
Finally, the Amanojaku can transform his host. The Amanojaku’s transformation lasts for one scene and changes the host into a physical duplicate of the Amanojaku’s Dreamlands form, with the same Attributes, Skills, Merits and advantages, except for Health - the transformed host retains his original Health track, and any damage suffered. The Amanojaku also gains full access to his Charms by transforming. In effect, when the Amanojaku transforms, switch from one character sheet to the other; the two have nothing in common but Willpower and Health.
As time passes, and the displaced mortal has the Dreamlands’ Gales blowing through him, the Amanojaku settles in. Each time the host acquires a Galemark, his appearance shifts, taking on some feature of his possessor. And each time this happens, the penalties the Amanojaku take while enacting his part are reduced by 1, to a minimum of -0; and the Amanojaku’s appearance shifts, taking on a feature of his host. Eventually, the Amanojaku and his host look, not identical, but like close relatives.
While in possession, the Amanojaku functions as the host’s soul, and supernatural powers that apply to the soul apply to it.
- Causing the Condition: The Dreaming Exile upgrade to Privy Counselor.
- Ending the Condition: The Amanojaku abandons the host body, and the host’s soul returns to it.
Amanojaku return to the Dreamlands at the death of their hosts, though they take the Soul Shocked Condition from the death throes. Short of that, they can be forced out by a successful abjuration. Unfortunately this does not restore the host’s soul to his body; the host falls into a state akin to coma. The Amanojaku reappears in the Dreamlands near the host’s location there, but as long as the host’s soul is in the Dreamlands, the door into his mind and body stands open there, and any Dreamlander may enter it and possess the host again after a day’s passing. Indeed, the original Amanojaku may do so, if he waits long enough. On the other hand, if the host is free in the Dreamlands, and is still aware of his waking life, and if he finds the door to it, his entering the door will restore him completely.
Many Princesses, having more skill in navigating the Dreamlands than in exorcism, prefer to banish Amanojaku from the Dreamlands side; they search out the door into the host’s dreamscape, then enter it to do battle with the possessor there. If a Princess opens a Crawlspace entrance next to an Amanojaku’s host, she can find her way through Crawlspace to the host’s Dreamlands exit as if she had Intimate Sympathy to the place. Past the door, the Princess appears next to the Amanojaku, ready to negotiate or fight for the host’s freedom. Once the Amanojaku has been forced out (or left on its own), guiding the host’s soul back to his body is then a simple matter of Dreamlands travel - though finding him might not be, if the Gales have been at work for long.
Finally, an Amanojaku can return to the Dreamlands voluntarily whenever the host sleeps, and end the possession by guiding the host’s soul back through the door himself. Few Amanojaku will do this, however, unless threatened with the death of their vessel - and killing a vessel is murder, as long as the host’s soul still exists.
Amanojaku cannot possess anyone with a major supernatural template. They can take over people with minor templates, but the powers and drawbacks of those templates don't function during the possession. The Amanojaku cannot gain any minor template while bound to a host, either.
While in possession, the Amanojaku functions as the host's soul, and supernatural powers that apply to the soul apply to it.
A power to travel within dreams might find the door connecting the host's dreamscape with the Dreamlands, but any character passing through it who lacks Sensitivity cannot wake up until they have retraced their steps and returned to the host's dreamscape.
Gates of Polished HornEdit
Once upon a time, a band of Amanojaku found, or made, an object of power to help them in their hunts. The nakama who finally tracked them down named the thing the Gate of Polished Horn, and made sure it was destroyed. Unfortunately the Amanojaku who used it had learned how to duplicate it elsewhere, and other Gates have been built since.
A Gate of Polished Horn does not look like a gate, though it is made of a substance very like horn, with the color of aged ivory, maybe. It is shaped as an obelisk, roughly twice as tall as a man, and carved with eye-twisting designs. When an Amanojaku has successfully bound himself to a person’s body, and the host’s soul is reasonably close to the Gate, everyone in the waking world who sleeps when the Amanojaku is nearby dreams of the Gate; anyone using Ivory Gate from the Gate’s vicinity has perfect impressions to reach them. Bands of Amanojaku that acquire a Gate of Polished Horn exploit this property ruthlessly. Once one of their number has taken over a body, his companions seize the host, carry him to the Gate, and imprison him. Meanwhile the possessing Amanojaku lives in the waking world impersonating him, and all who sleep near him - most likely, his family and intimate friends - dream of lands near the Gate, where the other Amanojaku in the band can hunt and possess them in turn. The first band of Amanojaku with a Gate had captured nearly fifty mortals before it was destroyed.
Overuse of a Gate of Polished Horn can lead to what is tentatively referred to as a Gatecrash. An entire region of the Dreamlands collapses, sending its inhabitants falling into Twilight. The Dreamlands usually repairs itself soon enough, but this is little comfort for the Dreamlanders trapped outside their native realm or for the people scared and panicked Dreamlanders end up possessing. The most recent (and therefore well known) Gatecrash was in 1992 when the Dreamland city of Crystal Tokyo fell into the actual city of Tokyo. Even today there are still Beacons with harmonious human and Dreamlander gestalt personalities fighting for the Light with Bequests forged from the wreckage.
In the Dreamlands there is a city where lost things go. The residents’ hearts ache for homes that never existed. It is a sad and lonely place, few of the residents bother to make a home, fewer still ever leave. Officer Doe was once a resident of this city. He was not lost himself but was an emanation of a closely related concept: detectives who find missing people. In a long career Doe did not close a single case, for that is the nature of the Lost City, nor did he find this unusual, until the day he met an Amanojaku. When the Officer learned of Earth he saw it as an escape from a life suddenly revealed to be meaningless.
Like most Amanojaku Doe tends to favour people with a connection to the concepts they represent. Partly that’s a reason of practicality, many Amanojaku prefer to do their deeds in secret at home rather than brave the dangerous wilds of the Dreamlands. Partly it’s because most of them want to do something related to their concept when they get to Earth. For Officer Doe it’s the practical advantages. He is part of a band of Amanojaku in possession of a Gate of Polished Horn and Officer Doe is the pointman. As a missing persons detective in the Dreamlands he is as suitable as an Amanojaku can be to take over a missing persons detective in the real world. Currently he is in the body of one Samantha O’Reilly, a respected detective from a long line of police officers. With her position on the force Officer Doe has been able to deflect investigations, keeping the missing missing and providing bodies for his cohort.
As for Samantha, she’s making a reasonable go of her predicament, all things considered. She escaped her captors and is applying her detective skills to her new surroundings. Samantha is actually somewhat glad this happened to her, she considers it a second awakening that revealed the hidden truths of the world. Sadly her optimism is misplaced for the Gales are slowly blowing her mind away.
- Rank: 2
- Attributes: Power 3, Finesse 3, Resistance 4
- Derived Traits: Corpus 9, Willpower 7, Size 5, Defense 4, Initiative 7, Speed 11 (species factor 5)
- Influences: Loss (the emotion) 2, Clues 1
- Numina: Innocuous, Pathfinder, Seek, Stalwart
- Ban: Officer Doe must stop and make detailed notes every time somebody starts talking about evidence in a missing person case.
- Bane: Family homes. Not any home will do but a home that has been lived in by the same family for at least three generations. Something so profoundly tied to being a home is alien and painful to Officer Doe’s nature as a being who is fundamentally a reflection of being lost. Prying up a floorboard or unscrewing a pipe makes an effective weapon until it loses its symbolic connection, which usually takes months. Luckily for Doe, Samantha is the first of her family to live in her apartment.