The August Order of the Ritual Blade

“Know the law and do what is appropriate.” These are the tenets of our order. But what is appropriate in a city dominated by lawless gangsters?

by Randall Wen Shi

Yung Zhi, beautiful and powerful though it is, is a fallen city. Our order has witnessed this beauty and power for generations of humankind. We see the joy in the eyes of children at play, even if their games play out beneath swaying towers destined to topple. We see the strength of those who labor for the sake of spouses, children, and uncles and aunts, with little more than a sagging hovel and rough spun garments to show for it. Compared to this beauty and this power, the neon lights and powered cars of the Pearl are nothing. We, the August Order of the Ritual Blade, occupy our place amid wealth and status for two reasons only: for the veneration of our forebears and for the sake of those mired in the depths.

Forgive me! You may not know of us by our official title. Too many mouths in Yung Zhi are preoccupied with finding scraps of food to bother with eloquence anymore. Outside our sanctum, the August Order of the Ritual Blade is known by a much simpler name: Negotiators. What nuance is lost when need outpaces beauty!

I suppose, however, that the name is not inaccurate. We are bound by rituals and maxims recovered from the world before Chaos’ Wrath, and polite discussion is the first of those rituals. We must know the laws of our lives: what we want, whom it affects, and all the personal and political obstacles in our way. As an avenue toward knowledge, the Sharing of Voices is a ritual most dear to us. To the outsider, these long, searching talks may look like negotiation.

What follows is also negotiation by one definition or other. Sometimes it is an easy association, some contract or understanding won through our order’s knowledge of the recorded rituals of legal intricacy or our knowledge of the unwritten rituals of favor and obligation. When there is too much discord during the Sharing of Voices, the Ritual of Blade and Blood might be called a negotiation too, albeit more urgent and final than our preferred work. Either way, ritual is the blade we wield to win better opportunities and conditions for the most deserving of this beautiful and powerful city.

You can believe what I tell you, because it is my ritual to speak only the truth. I am Randall Wen Shi, born in Serenity Falls, raised within the rigid traditions of Monsoon, and come in my adulthood to find my purpose here in the streets and vice dens of Yung Zhi. It is my task to record the deeds of Negotiators, to share those deeds with the world, and—from time to time—to do those deeds myself. It is my honor to fight for whatever the working class of Yung Zhi might need.

New Role: The Fierce Negotiators

Some fight to overcome the struggles of the downtrodden in Yung Zhi for personal reasons, others view it as their purpose in life. Becoming a member of the August Order of the Ritual Blade requires fierce dedication to the traditions set down by this order long before gangsters took control of the City. Their power comes from their honesty and devotion to the tenets of their order and woe to those who would cross them or break the conditions of an agreement with these warrior-monks.

Part gangster, part outlaw, the Fierce Negotiator brings a sense of order and hope to those living on the fringes of Yung Zhi. They speak up for those too far down the social ladder while maintaining respect with the gangs that run this place. Many with an understanding of the bigger picture in Yung Zhi realize the need for the August Order. They bring a sense of righteous judgment to the City, a belief that someone’s out there checking and balancing those in the Pearl. They’re not looking to bring down Xang and her gangs; their role is to maintain the status quo and keep this overcrowded mass from exploding in rebellion.

Condition: Accepting this role requires the lead character to be an active member of the August Order of the Ritual Blade from Yung Zhi. The character does not have to be from that City originally.

Code of Honour: A person’s word is their oath. If the One Land is riddled with greed and deceit, surely the truth is as valuable as gold. To the Fierce Negotiator, truth is everything, and their honour lies in the knowledge they are true to their word. Even in tense settlements where violence is sure to occur, they remain firm in their honesty and will not resort to violence unless they are forced to defend themselves. Then they absolutely promise to settle this matter with pure and thorough retaliation.

Rituals of the August Order: To gain this perk, the Fierce Negotiator must first engage in a short but precise ritual for each stage of the negotiation. This ritual requires at least one description to conduct but its effects are immediate once the ritual is complete.

  • The Sharing of Voices: The Fierce Negotiator vows to engage in civil discourse to bring about an agreement and will not resort to violence, intimidation, or ridicule to bring about a solution. To complete this ritual, the Fierce Negotiator must perform the ritual with the specific characters involved in the negotiation present. Until the end of the scene, you can shift the result of any complication roll with those characters so long as you hold true to your vow. If you are able to gain Vitality by accomplishing a negotiation-related scene goal, this perk will extend to the next scene. Once an agreement is made and witnessed by the Fierce Negotiator, the Ritual of the Blade and Blood can be triggered at any point and time in the future.
  • Ritual of the Blade and Blood: If any of the characters in the vow should ever break any of the conditions of the final agreement, you gain a +2 damage bonus and can combine a single resource’s step and damage bonus in the same complication roll against any of these characters. This perk can also be applied to other characters, including extras, who try and block your path. This perk cannot be triggered unless the Sharing of Voices ritual was performed in a previous scene. It lasts until all of the characters breaking the vow are dead or the original agreement has been restored.

This post was written by Eli Kurtz
(The Mythic Gazetteer, co-host of the Jianghu Hustle podcast).