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Unbeknownst to the majority of the Japanese, and indeed to the world, this small Buddhist sect has played a major — although invisible — part in the affairs of Japan for over a thousand years. Along with knowledge of Zen Buddhism, the founder of the sect, a monk named Nakahara Hidesato, brought back from China a partial knowledge of the Mythos, and founded the esoteric sect to help protect his homeland.
While their capabilities and duties have changed over the centuries, they have remained true to their original goal, and continue to work to protect Japan.
The name Tainin Hodo literally means "big" + "patience/endurance" + "preservation/protection" + "way." It is more of the name of their sect, like Shingon Buddhism, or Taoism (which itself is usually translated as the "way"), or any other "ism".
Their main temple is named Ryuzoji (龍造寺), which literally means "dragon-making temple" (the name Ryuzoji is fairly common in Japan, as a name for temples, places and people, and has no particular meaning that anyone knows of). While the name of the Tainin Hodo is almost never encountered in public (although it is mentioned as the name of a minor sect), Ryuzoji is a famous Shingon temple and attracts tens of thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year.
Tainin Hodo was founded by Nakahara Hidesato (Buddhist name Shingan Osho: 眞眼和尚; Shingan means "true eye", and Osho merely means monk). Shingan Osho traveled to China in 804 under Kobo Daishi (Kukai) to study Shingon Buddhism in the capital city of Ch'ang-an together with him.
Kukai returned to Japan in 806, but Shingan remained to study Zen under Tsung-Mi, the last patriarch of the Ho-Tse school of the Southern School of Ch'an (Zen). He also studied more exotic texts, such as Black Sutra of U Pao (the Burmese scholar of c. 700 AD), and apparently learned a great deal more than Buddhism, including a number of ancient languages. When he returned to Japan in 812, bringing with him hundreds of Buddhist scrolls and copies of various items predating humanity, he established the secret Tainin Hodo sect (大忍保道) at its present location, under the name of Ryuzoji Temple, synthesizing Shingon and Zen, with the secret cooperation of Kukai.
Ryuzoji Temple is located in the mountains to the northwest of present-day Akita City (see map), at the foot of Mt. Iwate, a live volcano, on the north side. When it was established in 812 it was a simple hut, but gradually grew over the years to serve the nearby lords of northeastern Japan. Dispatched by the central government, these local lords erected various castles to govern their regions. The closest castle was Shiwa (志波) Castle, built at the site of present-day Morioka City in 803. On the other side of the central mountain range was Ogachi (雄勝) Castle, built in 758 in Nagamori, Akita Prefecture, and the large Akita (秋田) Castle, built in 733 overlooking the mouth of the Omonogawa River north of present-day Akita City. Ryuzoji Temple remained totally aloof from politics, unlike other Buddhist monasteries in Japan, and was therefore relatively unaffected by the various wars of the medieval period, and untouched by the tsunami of 1341. Northern Japan remained quite unaffected by the tumultuous combat of medieval Japan, although there were major changes in power as the masters of the Imperial City changed over the centuries.
At the same time, though, the temple became a key center of religious and cultural activity for Northern Japan, accumulating significant amounts of wealth and power. The wealth was usually returned to the community, in an unusually astute political move which not only endeared them to the populace, but also literally saved the order from being exterminated by Oda Nobunaga in 1582, opening up a host of new possibilities to the sect.
While Kukai mastered Shingon and introduced it to Japan (transplanted it, actually, since it became extinct in China thereafter), Shingan stayed to study Zen under Tsung-Mi (宗密). Tsung-Mi was not only the fifth and last patriarch of the Ho-Tse school of the Southern School of Zen, but also of the Hua-Yen school of Kegon Buddhism. He had developed a union of the two disciplines, and while Kukai absorbed much of Kegon Buddhism, he was primarily interested in Zen as a vehicle for realizing the three Mysteries of Shingon Buddhism: Mind, Body and Speech.
Tsung-Mi also introduced Shingan to the Dreamlands and the Black Sutra, and started him on the path that would eventually lead to the establishment of Taininhodo. It is not clear where Tsung-Mi himself acquired his lore, but it is clear that he enjoyed close relations with Shingan's original teacher, Hui-kuo, since Hui-kuo introduced them and suggested that Shingan go on to study there even though it was a different Buddhist sect. Zen Buddhism was totally unknown in Japan at this time, as was most Buddhism, and Shingan found that it appealed very strongly to his sensibilities. In addition to being able to appreciate fully the environment surrounding one at any time with a sense of detachment, it also made it possible to see a fraction of the underpinnings of reality — as much, that it, as the viewer's sanity could withstand. At the same time, it made possible the introduction of Zen into Japan several centuries before it has been traditionally thought to have been imported.
Tsung-Mi recognized other planes of existence, specifically the Dreamlands but possibly other planes as well. Through the mysteries of speech, body and mind, it is possible for monks to enter the Dreamlands at will, and wield magic there. It is much more difficult, although not impossible, for them to wield magic in this world as well. By the time a monk has reached that level of skill, however, he is also a compassionate Buddhist to the core, and as a result the skills remained hidden, mostly unused, and have gradually withered and died over the centuries. (The Taininhodo library, especially the library in the Dreamlands, contains a large number of tomes with all particulars on their magic, along with extensive information on the Mythos as well.)
In Zen, or Ch'an as it is called in China and by the Taininhodo, the goal is to overcome the limitations and artificial restrictions imposed by society, culture, language, and even reality to receive the truth of the cosmos. In the Japanese tradition, this is accomplished by either language (seemingly meaningless questions, such as 'What is the sound of one hand clapping') or action (an unexpected slap), which serve to 'derail' the rational mind and open it to perceive a more fundamental reality. While Zen itself is now practiced the world over, and formed a crucial philosophical element of Japan's culture in the last half-century, only the Taininhodo seems able to combine physical and spiritual training regimens with certain drugs to achieve not only satori (recognized as the state of enlightenment by modern Zen sects), but also the ability to see a bit beyond the facade of reality as Man understands it.
Taininhodo Ch'an, however, was brought to Japan well before Japanese Zen developed under Eisai and others from the end of the 12th century. Through a synthesis of Ch'an and Shingon Buddhism, Shingan Osho formed his own roadmap to ultimate understanding. The process is generally broken down into the following stages, although individual monks might actually develop in a different sequence, skip stages, or be working on multiple stages at the same time.
First, to understand Man. This is basically physical fitness training, with some martial arts training. A key concept in teaching motion and martial arts is to know where you stand, to grasp your position and potential actions within a gestalt of the immediate environment. Along with physical fitness are training in many worldly skills, including things like stone-carving, farming, blacksmithery and fishing. Also in this stage, monks are required to teach, although there are no restrictions on what they teach, or to whom. Emphasis is again placed on understanding the role of the monk within society, as both taught and teacher, producer and consumer.
Second, to understand Self. This is intensive psychological training, normally on a 1:1 basis from a master monk at Ryuzoji Temple. This is quite similar to conventional Zen training of Japan. Again, key emphasis is placed on understanding one's position with respect to the universe, knowing where one is.
Third, to understand the Cosmos. This is a mystical stage that is not reached by most members of the Taininhodo. It does not always include access to the Dreamlands, and those with access to the Dreamlands are not necessarily at this stage, but usually the two are found together. In this stage, monks learn to perceive the reality around them, to sense other planes of existence, to use senses other than the five conventional human senses, and, rarely, to travel to other planes of existence (like Dreamlands). The key to this stage is understanding that the universe resolves around the individual, and that a firm belief that, for example, you are in Dreamlands, can actually realize you in Dreamlands. A firm belief that you are underwater, for example, could drown you as you materialize at the bottom of the Cerenarian Sea. Needless to say, concentration and a strong sense of where you are, where your feet are placed, how you stand with respect to the universe around you, is absolutely essential. Conviction and sheer stubbornness are remarkably useful. (Note that the monks cannot teleport themselves to various places on the earth; perhaps stronger entities could, though.) Monks at this stage are capable of utilizing a range of magic with low cost, and they are capable of sensing Mythos entities (or other "abnormal" beings or happenings) at a distance. It imparts no particular physical prowess, however, other than perhaps an ability to sense objects ("eyes in the back of his head").
Fourth is to understand Man and Self, again. This stage is also very rare, and stage three is not required to reach it, but most monks who reach this stage also have stage three. This is basically the traditional ideal of Buddhism, enlightenment or satori, where the monk understands reality, but also realizes his need to return to this earth and this reality, and assist others trapped in ignorance and want to escape to attain happiness. At this stage, the monk does not gain any particular capabilities, understandings or powers, but rather undergoes a shift in awareness. This can be the achievement of true enlightenment, the development of almost superhuman capabilities, or evolution into something that is no longer mentally human at all. It can result in his "resigning" from the Taininhodo, becoming a wandering monk and helping people, and merely disappearing to some place where people need assistance, whether on this earth or somewhere else. Needless to say, having skilled monks disappear can be a bit of an inconvenience to the group trying to manage the monastery.
For game purposes, the vast majority of monks are at stage one or two, and a few are at stage three. Tosui would be working at stage 3, and Nyogen probably at stage 4.
|804||Nakahara Hidesato (Buddhist name Shingan Osho) travels to China with Kobo Daishi (Kukai), and studies Shingon Buddhism in the capital city of Ch'ang-an with Kukai, under Hui-Kuo.|
|806||Shingan studies Zen under Tsung-Mi, the last patriarch of the Ho-Tse school of the Southern School of Ch'an (Zen), as well as the more exotic Black Sutra of U Pao (the Burmese scholar of c. 700 AD).|
|812||Shingan returns to Japan and establishes the secret Tainin Hodo sect at its present location, under the name of Ryuzoji Temple, synthesizing Shingon and Zen. At roughly the same time, the Temple in Dreamlands is discovered to have existed.|
|1180||Requested by head Taira noble to raise the young Emperor Antoku. They train and educate him, and enable his escape from Dannoura and the Minamoto forces. The Taira forces at this time are largely corrupt, but the Emperor and several of the inner circle are not.|
|1185||Emperor Antoku and remaining loyal forces, including Taininhodo monks, flee to Shiiba Town in Miyazaki Prefecture. Community formed there, and they are very quiet for several generations. Antoku's descendents brought out of the community to various other places throughout Japan for protection.|
|1341||Tsunami destroys the Northern Realm in an attempt to destroy The Taira. It succeeds, and also kills many of his family, but fails to kill a second son who had already been instructed in the truth. Tsunami was triggered by Amaterasu.|
|1426||The Taira goes insane from studying the Mythos too deeply, and must be stopped to prevent him from destroying himself or revealing himself to the shoka. He, along with his bodyguards, is killed by Taininhodo Abbot Wogyu, who is also killed in the process. From this time The Taira is unconscious in Wakeworld, and all meetings are held in Dreamlands.|
|1582||Oda Nobunaga pacifies Shinano, Ueno and neighboring territories. He hears tales that Ryuzoji Temple works for the good of the local people, and with a small band of trusted followers, goes to see for himself. He is willing to destroy the temple if they prove a threat to him (too militant, too independent, too greedy), but discovers that in fact they do give to the people: food, help, teaching (little money). He also discovers that the temple itself owns very few rice paddies, and that the monks till their own. Announcing himself at the gate, he demands a meeting with the Abbot, and is promptly given one. The Abbot is honest, discerning, and willing to deal: he admits they have no money, and says Oda is free to look around if he wishes, but urges him not to destroy precious Buddhist scrolls (many written in eerie characters, not Sanskrit or Chinese, which make Oda vaguely nauseous). There is no gold.
That night he meets with the Abbot privately, and promises to protect Ryuzoji Temple, and the Abbot asks in return for what? Oda says nothing, he likes the Abbot. The Abbot, however, realizes that Oda is not a man to give favors for free. That night Oda visits Dreamlands temple, and reveals his true heart, which is unification and peace for Japan, under Oda of course. The Taininhodo decide to support Oda, providing him with useful information via dreams from that point. They know nothing about the thoughts or goals of Toyotomi Hideyoshi or Tokugawa Ieyasu, however, and can only provide information on things such as troop concentrations, etc, gained through DL magic and ghouls scouting.
|1732||Yakibashiri lava flow destroys East Dormitory, killing 82 monks. Immediately after the monks die, the eruption subsides. A monk prays at the site of the East Dormitory, still partially visible under the solidified lava, twice a day (sunrise and sunset), even today.|
|1893||Taininhodo monk accompanies Shaku Soen, abbot of the Engakuji Branch of Rinzai Zen, to the World Parliament of Religions, held as part of the Chicago World Fair. While there he meets with representative from Order of the Sword of St. Jerome. See http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Kurotokage/message/796 for details.|
This section includes a map, with info and pictures on each building.
How many monks are there? Horyuji had 220 or so, so about a hundred would be good. Of these, only maybe a dozen or two know what's going on.
Local region, nearby cities, role of the monks in local society, relationship to Shingon
Each building should be described, with picture, photo and/or text, especially the 1732 incident.
Ryuzoji is a Buddhist temple in Japan, a leading industrialized nation, and as such in unable to survive in merely its traditional role. The vast majority of the monks work to alleviate suffering in the world, specifically in their local area, through assistance and aid to the disabled and poor; teaching of various classes, including Buddhism, kendo (Japanese swordsmanship), archery, and calligraphy. Within the total group of monks, about a hundred in all, there are only about a dozen who know the truth, and work to root out Mythos evil. Another dozen or so are aware that strange things happen, and may have cooperated at one time or another, but are largely unaware of exactly what is going on. As a Buddhist group, the Tainin Hodo are extremely unlikely to take direct, physical action, and instead try to arrange for the problem to be exposed to normal authorities for handling. There are times when urgency or the type of the problem, however, make this approach impossible, forcing them to take action themselves.
Their primary goal is to achieve peace and happiness in Japan, and they believe a major part of this is eliminating all taints of Amaterasu's plans and dreams. They do believe in the sacred nature of the Japanese Imperial family, but feel that it has been often controlled and misused by Amaterasu and her factions over the centuries. Eliminating her influence would return it to its full glory and capability. They believe the most direct way of accomplishing this is returning the "untainted" Taira line to the throne, and as a result, protection of The Taira is a key function. Since The Taira is only conscious in the DLs, and most of the monks don't know he exists anyway, though, he can get out into the real world easily enough and is not required to be under lock and key all day every day.
In 1185, the Tainin Hodo were partially responsible for protecting the Emperor, but that changed when Emperor Shotoku vanished at the close of the Gempei War. It is important to remember that the monks are not especially "for" The Taira and "against" the Mythos, but they are basically The Taira's bodyguards and hands. They are the only continuing support that The Taira has, since a large number of his operatives are recruited and used up in various ops. The monastery serves as a kind of base, with the Tainin Hodo monks providing spiritual help (which can be as mundane as counseling and teaching meditation techniques to help recover lost SAN), and in some cases actual magical assistance.
Also, since most other operatives are in Kurotokage and therefore suspect (ie, tainted with the possibility that they belong to Amaterasu's faction), the single most important task of the Taininhodo is to protect The Taira. They isolate him from contact with outsiders by the simple but effective means of keeping all matters related to The Taira in Dreamlands, including the fully-aware consciousness of The Taira. They may require some method of being able to detect spies.
These guys are Buddhists. Their goals are for everybody to live in peace. As long as the Mythos nasties keep eating people, they will keep fighting the Mythos. They have no especial gripe against Mythos creatures who DON'T eat people - this is a crucial difference. They also dislike people who hurt people, remember. They have, on occasion, fed ghouls dead bodies because they felt bad about "living" creatures (ghouls) suffering. If The Taira, for example, moved to hurt lots of people, they might well stop supporting him (ordering agents to certain death doesn't count…).
Need description of an average day, their training, inter-relationship with local community, etc.
Also, have to work in mention of how they feed and care for the tanuki… players who look will notice that they care unusually for the tanuki (significantly more so that for your random animal), and may wonder why.
The magic of the Taininhodo is based on the Dreamlands, but includes the following spells from CoC v5.5:
- Brew Dream Drug (page 194)
- Cloud Memory (page 197)
- Contact Ghoul (page 199)
- Dream Vision (page 204)
- Heal (page 209)
- Healing (page 209)
- Implant Suggestion (page 209)
- Journey to the Other Side (page 210)
- Pose Mundane (page 212)
- Send Dreams (page 213)
- Sword Taia (see "Without Intent", by Davide Mana)
- Summon to Dream (used to call The Taira to meetings in Dreamlands)
The Taininhodo in the Dreamlands
Includes basically the same info as the section on Ryuzoji Temple: map, with pictures and desctiptions of each building. The temple in the DLs is located on Mt. Lerion, quite close to the Enchanted Wood and the standard entrance. It is known to people in the area, and is not especially secret elsewhere in the DLs, but also not especially noteworthy. People just basically ignore it as another random temple off on a mountain somewhere. The Tainin Hodo do not have a formal temple in Amaterasu's DLs because there she is the only god, in one form or another, but they do (very rarely) visit her DLs for one reason or another, or sent people to do their bidding there.
The temple in the DLs is unique for several reasons, namely (1) it holds the sword Kusanagi, one of the three Imperial Regalia and something that Amaterasu and many other groups want badly, (2) it holds an extensive collection of Buddhist scrolls and Mythos tomes, some of which no longer exist in the real world, (3) it is home to The Taira, most of the time, (4) there are many monks here who never "wake up" and spend decades of DL-time at the temple without ever leaving.
Nominally, they are an extension of Buddhist monks in the real world, and continue to seek enlightenment through recital of Buddhist scripture. They are not interested in proselytizing, although will turn away interested people. They provide for the poor and injured that find their way to the temple, but do not go in search of them. Basically, they try to act as nice hermits, and avoid interacting with the surrounding DLs as much as possible.
When they got it, where it is, what they do with it.
Nyogen, the Abbot, was born in Shanghai in 1920 as Hirata Shotaro, into a middle-class merchant family. He grew up speaking Chinese and Japanese with a smattering of other languages, following in his father's footsteps. In 1940 he was inducted into the Japanese Army (Fifteenth Army), participating in the conquest of Indochina. In June 1942, while his squad was moving to an alternate post during operations in Burma, they were attacked and the majority killed by Tcho-Tcho. One of only three survivors, he was later returned to Japan with a permanent hip injury that made it difficult to walk, and a need to understand what he had encountered. Tortured by nightmares, he became an alcoholic, gradually slipping into oblivion in the back streets of Osaka. A Buddhist monk who discovered him in the gutter one day gave him his own rice, which astonished Hirata in the rationed world of World War II Japan, and he began to show an interest in compassionate Buddhism. As he gradually stopped drinking, he drifted northward to escape the crowds and militarism of central Japan. He was accepted as a novice at Ryuzoji Temple, asking for admission on the spur of the moment because he "thought the temple silhouetted against fuming Mt. Iwate was beautiful," on August 7, 1945, unaware that the atomic bomb had been dropped the previous day. He had a number of encounters with the Mythos, and discovered that either naturally or perhaps because of his exposure to the Tcho-Tcho he was unusually capable of entering and utilizing the Dreamlands. Over the years, he came to understand the truth of what happened in Burma, and was initiated into the mysteries of the Tainin Hodo. He became Abbot of the temple in 1986.
STR CON SIZ INT POW
DEX APP EDU SAN HP
Languages: Japanese 99%, classical Japanese 75%, Chinese 75%, classical Chinese 60%, Sanskrit 75%, English 65%, French 20%
Spells: Brew Dream Drug, Cloud Memory, Contact Ghoul, Dream Vision, Heal, Healing, Implant Suggestion, Journey to the Other Side, Pose Mundane , Send Dreams, Summon to Dream
Enchanted items: None.
Physical description: Nyogen is your average old man. He walks slowly, usually with a limp which is apparently painful in his left hip, and usually with an 8-sided staff as a cane. He is almost totally bald, except for wisps of hair above his ears which stick out quite absurdly. His eyes are narrow slits, but when they can be seen they are bright and lively. He is missing most of his teeth on the left side of his jaw, and when he speaks, eats or drinks usually holds his left hand in front of his mouth to hide it. His voice is quiet and low, and not at all weak, although he seldom raises it. There are three wide, parallel scars running down the length of his right arm from the shoulder to shortly below the elbow, but these are rarely visible. He usually wears dark blue robes, and Buddhist rosary of wooden beads on his left wrist; when deep in thought he runs the beads through his left hand, endlessly cycling it between his fingers one bead at a time.
Note on the staff: He bought the staff when he climbed Mt. Fuji (it is a "kongou-zue" available as a tourist item), and the different stages of the climb are branded into the staff. He is extremely proud of it, and will not discuss where he got it, but in fact he climbed Mt. Fuji with The Taira on New Year's Day, to greet the rising sun.
Knows Dreamlands, does not know the truth about the Taira.
STR CON SIZ INT POW
DEX APP EDU SAN HP
Kyogan (巨岩; literally "giant boulder"), also just as "iwa". He is officially the head of the Temple's external operations, including interacting with local government and the community, but in fact he wanders around Japan keeping his eyes on all sorts of things and is in charge of protecting The Taira. He is built like a tank but is extremely fast as well. Probably the most dangerous of the monks in combat, with extensive experience. He is by no means a slow or stupid person, but cannot sense the DLs or use magic. He knows the truth about The Taira.
Ho (穂; literally means "ear of rice"). The Keeper of the Tanuki. He is responsible for general upkeep of temple buildings, but more importantly takes care of the tanuki, and watches them to see what they are up to. He has warned the temple of various POW-related events in the past, including leaks from the DLs, magic usage and Cthonian activity. He can also drain any POW charges from a tanuki, usually. He is incapable of using violence, and will not kill a bee stinging him.
Mokko (木鼓; literally means "wooden drum"). Usually found on the road somewhere in Japan, and most usually near The Taira. A very tall, thin monk, who rarely speaks at all. He is committed to the protection of The Taira, and would cheerfully give his life to protect him. While he works under Kyogan, he has considerable leeway in carrying out his mission. He may be insane, and spends a great deal of time in the DLs.