Deva: The Reborn
This world is a lie. We all feel it, the sense that our skin is just a wrapper that we wear like a ragged coat. Slowly tearing apart as we strive to overcome it’s paltry limitations, and fight against it’s basic alien entrapment. A fragile vessel for a mind and a spirit so much greater than this sack of blood and meat we’re forced to inhabit. Everything we see, every object we touch is vastly more complicated that we will ever be able to perceive. Ghosts whisper from behind us, spirits lurk just out of our vision, and the very lifestream of the world pulses under our feet in eternal rhythm. Can’t you sense it, right there, just out of reach? Without understanding, without perception, how will you ever know what you could be?
This world is all that there is. Aren’t you tired of bible thumpers and crystal gazers telling you their omniscient advisers are more important than taking care of yourself, and dealing with what’s in front of you? Isn’t it more important to make the best of what you have, to try and make the reality you see in front of you better, than it is to chase some fanciful pipe dream down a rabbit hole of wasted time and wasted life? If you are cut you bleed, if you refuse to eat you starve, and if you stare at your navel hoping for divine intervention you will die alone in a gutter because you couldn’t pull your head out of your ass long enough to find a bed. Even if there is something else out there, you have to forge your own destiny and pursue your own goals.
Peace can only be found in contemplation, in searching your soul for truth and purpose. A thoughtful action is always more productive than a random outburst, a considered reply always worth more than a violent shout. When your mind is still, you are the closest you will ever be to being whole, in-tune with yourself and the world around you.
Joy can only be gained through action. Peace is all well and good but it will never drive you to create or to grow. It is doing that fulfills us, and action that defines who we really are. In our own eyes, and in the eyes of others, we are only what we have accomplished. Living is our existence. Life, it’s own reward.
Deva are creatures born from a chrysalis of human suffering and belief, suspended between life and death, between flesh and spirit. Once they were human, but through some trick of fate or chance they passed beyond mortality and became something else. A soul incarnate, searching for it’s true purpose on earth, trying to divine it’s own essential nature. Who are you really, when you flesh is stripped away and the preconceived notions are flayed from your eyes? What might you become?
From the first time I picked up the Kindred of the East book, and lurked through it’s pages I was struck by the game. Fascinated by a rules system where the qualities of your character’s personality could shape their world. Where the goal of the story wasn’t to battle the invading forces of evil or gather power, but to understand yourself. In most games the concept of enlightenment means learning something about the fundamental nature of the world, or sliding yourself down some preordained path of virtue. In KotE, the most dangerous opponents a character would ever face came from within, the pursuit of power a means to an end. Hoary old masters still guided you on the path to enlightenment, but the first and most fundamental wisdom they would ever teach you, was that your way could never be shown. Only discovered.
In the weeks and months that followed I quickly realized that the rules system was deeply flawed, and the book itself poorly put together. In the years that followed, I began to recognize many of the sources for concepts in KotE, concepts that were often forced together in ways that did not make sense. And in the many years since then, I have come to accept that Kindred of the East is problematic in many ways, playing to stereotypes and incorporating an ‘eastern culture’ that only exists in the minds of outsiders looking in on any number of countries, peoples, and cultures. I don’t know what the developers of KotE intended when the put it together. Were they simply trying to slap together random elements to create Kindred… of the East, or did they see the game that I saw, the opportunity to explore concepts of self identity and self determination in their fatalistic and decaying world? I hope it was the latter, and the World of Darkness lines have seen more games that play on this theme, but none have felt to me as true to purpose as this game, broken and neglected as it was.
So here is my attempt to pay homage to that game. A rules system and story that will hopefully recapture the essence of KotE as I saw it. I have kept some of the games references to the cultures and religions of India, China, and Japan. Mostly these are naming conventions, and some philosophical or religious concepts used in creating the system. I have tried my best to treat such materials with respect, and perhaps I should have left them out altogether. But, in the end, I could not help giving a nod to the game that so inspired me.
Creating this document, I have attempted to use the books of the new World of Darkness line as a template. At the top of each page on this Wiki you will see a navigation bar that leads to the table of contents and the header of each chapter. At the bottom of each page I include a link that will allow you to progress through the document in the order it is intended to be read. You will need a copy of The World of Darkness, and the GMC rules update to play effectively.