The Brotherhood

A Martial Arts group

by John Karakash

The brotherhood (a loose translation... the actual word is gender-neutral even though a bare majority of the members are male) has existed for millennia, its exact origins lost in antiquity. The most ancient temple documents do describe 'beings of great enlightenment' teaching the founders the skills that became the cornerstone of the philosophy and techniques of the order.

The largest and oldest temple is hidden somewhere in Asia. Some people say in Tibet, some say deep in China, still others claim it's in a hidden valley high in the mountains that is eternally spring-like. With modern satellite techniques and the industrialization of the world, it seems difficult to believe that they could have remained concealed were it not for the powers they have developed to mask their presence. This is the Temple of Light.

The rigorous cycle of meditation and practice make it nearly impossible for the temple as a whole to have an impact on the world. So they have representatives spread through the world who report back occasionally and fight what they perceive as evil.

The variety of members is staggering. They come from all continents, all races, and all walks of life. The only unifying element is a common belief in the philosophy of the Temple: improve oneself spiritually and defeat those who would block enlightenment. Some are born of members within the temple, but the majority are 'seekers' who have journeyed far to receive the training that only the temple can give.

The life of a typical seeker has several stages:

  1. Journey: Most seekers spend years looking for something that has eluded them in their mundane life, something to give their life form and meaning. Many literally seek out the Temple. Those deemed unworthy never find it and some of those are never found again. Others are lucky enough to find a teacher nearer to home.

  2. Acceptance: The seeker has to dedicate himself to the philosophy of the temple and its strictures. There is usually some symbolic event involved here, such as accepting a cup of tea, or crossing a threshold. The free will and knowledge of the seeker is necessary. Then they are known as disciples.

  3. Control: What's puzzling to many of the seekers is that the beginning of the training seems to be sitting around and doing nothing. In fact these meditative techniques are essential to gain control of the Ki that exists within all self-aware creatures. (Celestials refer to this energy as Essence.) Disciples typically have 6 forces. Once a disciple has mastered himself, he is ready for the next stage.

  4. Growth: This stage is long and varies the most in length. Some acolytes never leave this stage their entire lives and are not thought less highly of for it. Here is where the techniques (otherwise known as Songs to Celestials) the temple teaches are passed on and practiced. Acolytes usually have between 6 and 8 Forces.

  5. Mastery: When an acolyte has passed a certain point in their spiritual evolution, they become masters. It is different for each person and the amount of time required varies widely. Almost all describe it as a 'moment of illumination'. Only Masters and higher can teach techniques, though even acolytes can teach control. Some masters travel extensively while others stay in the temple to instruct and guide. These martial adepts have at least 8 Forces.

  6. Journey: A master who has reached this stage will realize that it is time to leave the temple. They once again become seekers and are rarely heard from again. Usually they find a place of solitude to continue their spiritual growth. Sometimes they die peacefully in their sleep. Sometimes they return with new teachings or instructions. Sometimes both.
Unfortunately, some flawed individuals have learned the teachings of the Temple and have perverted them. They either use their skills for their own gain or even found their own Temples to spread their twisted knowledge. The Brotherhood continually has to ward off attacks by these ones and has to initiate actions of their own to foil the plans of the evil temples.

The philosophy of such 'dark' temples is very similar to that of the Temple of Light, but with some subtle twists. Self-enlightenment can take precedence over the enlightenment of others. The unenlightened are lesser beings and can be discount or used. Mastery over others proves one's control and so on.

The Brotherhood and the Temple of Light can be worked into a campaign in a wide variety of ways. Some possibilities are:

  1. The Temple of Light and its evil counterparts are not directly allied with either Heaven or Hell and instead are a solely human institution that sides with whom they wish.
  2. All temples are aligned with Heaven or Hell and are run by Saints or the Undead, respectively. Possibly by actual angels, especially for the larger temples. Soldiers are trained here for the War.
  3. The Brotherhood is allied with the mysterious Grigori (who, in fact, were the first teachers of the Brotherhood). Depending on the nature of the Grigori in your campaign, this can take several tacks!
  4. The Temple of Light is actually a diabolic front and there is no 'good' temple (or it had been destroyed or subverted years ago). Starting players might think that they are working for one side and then discover the horrible truth!
  5. Or, you can use a mish-mash of these ideas. Some purely human temples, some heavenly, some diabolical, some Grigori, or even a few dedicated to the old gods!
The Temple teaches many martial skills as well as many powerful techniques (i.e. Songs). These are sometimes different from the ones in the book and have different names, but otherwise all the Song mechanics are observed. Interesting names are left as an exercise for the interested reader. If the text allows a practitioner to use either the Ethereal or Celestial version of the Songs, they cost two times and three times the normal Essence cost respectively.

Old Techniques

New Techniques

Each of these cost one Essence and should be treated as Corporeal Songs.

New Skills

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