Monday, December 11, 2023

OSR: Cultivation: The Pursuit of Enlightenment, Immortality and Stronger Punches

This post is mostly a series of unorganized ramblings and the crude outlines of several systems designed to facilitate the ultimate Wuxia game.  It is inspired by Legend of the Condor Heroes, Dragon Ball (OG and Z), Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Amazing Cultivation Simulator and likely other things I can't remember.  

from here
"Things need to to train to defeat the Gods: lots of scenic locations to train in.  Also, noodles."

- Unknown Commenter, under Kill Six Billion Demons

The Make-Up of the World:

The world is divided into 4 elements.

Fire: The sun, fire, passion, lust, creativity, selfishness, desire, inspiration, art(?), ambition, South

Air: Whimsy, fun-loving, easygoing, the sky, the Heavens, spirituality, language, humility, detachment, astrology, North

Water: Tides, emotions, feminine energies, the moon, flexibility, rapid changes, agreeability, weather, East

Earth: Fertility, growth, stability, truculence, stubbornness, honor, parents, legacy, tradition, the dead, West

Elemental Interactions:

The Science of this is called Za Wen.  This is also referred to as 'The Art of Harmonics' or simply 'Harmonics'.

Fire dominates Air, Air scatters Earth, Earth swallows Water, Water quenches Fire, and so on...

author unknown

Cultivation is the manner of transforming ordinary mortals into demigods.

The methods of doing this vary, but can be broken down into two broad categories:
- Internal and External.

Internal is based on the principle of Internal Alchemy- creating within yourself various substances and spiritual gifts to empower yourself.  This is achieved through meditation, special diets and lifestyles, proper mindset and spiritual practices.  This is also sometimes referred as the "Eastern" style practice.  

External styles break down into 2 main paths, the Path of Earth and the Path of Heaven.  

The Path of Heaven is a method through which one becomes a God through receiving worship.  This is a very challenging route, as it requires people to worship something very lowly at the start.  Many who walk the Path of Heaven are thus already advanced Cultivators or accidentally stumbled into it and found that they had started to gain divine attributes as people came to revere them.  

The Path of Earth is in ways, much simpler, but also more difficult.  It involves the perfection of the physical form through rigorous physical training.  And we are not just referring to ordinary training or the practice of martial arts- but the training and development of the entire body.  From the toenails to the eyelashes, every part that can be improved will be.

Internal Example: The Flying Fist Art

- Must be a man
- Must be celibate 
- Must not eat meat from anything that does not fly
- Must not wear armor 
- Must only use fists, swords, spears, bows or daggers
- It is recommended (but not required) to not associate with things tied to Fire or Earth (Political power, status in the world, money, strong passions, sex, women, merchants, etc)

Rank 1: Initiate
- Gain Basic Monk powers
- Learn spells: Feather, Aerial Armor

To Ascend to Level 2, meditate for at least six months, give away all unnecessary possessions (not necessary for survival) and defeat another initiate in a duel.

Rank 2: Novice
- Gain the ability to jump up to 10*STR modifier' vertically or horizontally.  
- Learn spells: Anti-Gravity, Rain Parts for the Wise

To Ascend to Level 3, you must spend at least 1 year meditating, give away all material possessions and ride a wild flying beast that has not been tamed, such as a Pegasi, Griffon, Wyvern, etc.

Rank 3: Neophyte
- Gain the ability to cast 'Feather' on yourself as a free action.  This does not require you to spend MD, but you must have at least 1 MD remaining.  
- Your fists do +1d4 bonus damage on a hit.  They count as magical for the purpose of doing damage. 
- Learn spells: Dynamic Entry, Fogbank, Gust of Wind

To Ascend to Level 4, you must spend at least 2 years in meditation and training, do a great work on behalf of the poor for no reward and hunt down a criminal Martial Artist or a group of Criminals equal to your current strength.  

Rank 4: Brother
- Can communicate with Birds as if you shared a language
- Your fists now do +1d6 bonus damage on a hit.
- Learn spells: Animal Messenger, Alter Gravitic Direction, Fly

To Ascend to Level 5, you must spend at least 10 years in meditation and training, do a great deed on behalf of the downtrodden, defeat a Beast of Evil that flies and is as strong or stronger than you, go on a pilgrimage to meet the Simurgh, Queen of Birds.  Then you must undergo the Rite of Effervescence.  

Rite of Effervescence:
- Over the next 7 days, you must not eat or drink anything
- You must fight an increasingly dangerous series of beasts without help from anyone
- You must shed any remaining attachments you have to this world
- Then make your final roll, a COG check.  Base DC is 22.

+1 if it is the right time of day, season or type of weather (Max +3)
+1 if you are in a space that has good Harmonics with Air
+1 per victory in the ritual combats (Max +7 for defeating all the beasts)
+1 if you fought the beasts with nothing but spells and fists
+2 if you fought the beasts with nothing but fists
+2 if you have no material possessions at all
+2 if you have done great deeds for no material or earthly reward
+3 if you have mentored a younger Brother in the way of the Flying Fist
+3 if you did what the Simurgh told you what to do
-1 if it is the wrong time of day, season or type of weather (Max-3)
-1 if you still have any material possessions
-1 if you are in a place with bad Harmonics with Air
-2 if you still have material attachments to the world
-2 if you have any material possessions at all
-2 if you are doing this for any reason beyond the pursuit of Lightness and Justice
-3 if you are overly concerned about dying

If you roll below 22, you fail to Achieve a Golden Core.  Instead, a false Core, or Lead Core forms in you.  This prevents any further advancement and will weaken you overall.  Usually if you get this result, Brothers of the Order will go off and seek death out of shame.

If you roll 22 or above, you succeed on obtaining a Golden Core.  Consult the following table to see what you obtain:

Not that the Higher Cores obtain not only what is listed under them, but also all the benefits of the Lesser Cores.  A Core that came from a roll of "37" has every power from "22-36" as well.

I rolled...

- Immunity to Altitude Sickness
- Can hold Breath for up to 30 minutes- 10 if in combat
- You do not suffer the rigors of old age  

- Resistance to Cold Damage
- Your natural lifespan is doubled

- Resistance to Thunder Damage
- You become immune to being Charmed, Frightened or affected by mental effects
- Your natural lifespan is tripled

- Resistance to Lightning Damage
- You can walk on clouds, smoke and fog as if it was solid ground
- You become Ageless, ceasing to Age from this point forward

- Immunity to Cold Damage
- 1/Day can alter the weather in the local area
- Gain the Specific Death Condition: Can only die through a heroic sacrifice or by being corrupted and destroyed in the pursuit of evil

- You become immune to inhaled poisons or toxins
- If you meditate for at least 10 minutes, you can recover 1 FS per minute or 1 HP per hour as long as you don't have any Horrible Wounds
- Your wounds quickly heal and close, you cannot bleed out if you pass a CON check
- 1/Day, You can compel the allegiance of Good and Neutral flying creatures
- 3/Day, can alter the weather in the local area
- Gain Access to Karma: You gain a number of points equal to your Righteous Deeds.  These can be spent like Luck Points, but do not recover once spent.  Doing more Righteous Deeds will earn you more Karma, while doing Wicked Deeds will lower it.
- If you tire of this world and have at least 1 Good Karma, you can Ascend to Heaven.  This will remove this character from the game, but upon making your new character, will grant a Auspicious Turn upon the Zodiac.  

Additionally, regardless of what kind of Core you obtain, all those who pass through the Rite of Effervescence gain the following:
- Your fists now do +1d8 damage on a hit
- Learn spells: Hyperbaric Healing, Shredding Gale, Vortex Fist

If you Ascended to Level 5, you have become a Master.  You may now choose to Ascend to Heaven, either through your Karma or through death, or you may remain to try and improve further on Earth, an unlikely, but not impossible task.  Some Masters will choose to stick around for a while to maintain the Monastery, train the new Initiates and keep the tradition alive until their is time for them to leave this world.  

by Kudos Productions
External Cultivation- The Path of Heaven:

You start a cult around yourself, deifying yourself as a God.  The more worship you receive, the more powerful you become.  Whenever you receive worship or sacrifices, these generate Qi.  You can spend Qi to activate your Divine Virtue, grant Prayers and perform Miracles.

Acquiring Qi:

Qi comes from Worship and Sacrifices.

Worship comes from your followers.  You gain 1 Qi per day for every 10 followers you have. 

Sacrifices are things your followers give you.  Living sacrifices grant Qi equal to their HD.  You gain 10 Qi per HD of a sacrifice.  Sacrifices that are not alive instead generate Qi based on monetary or emotional value, as the two are often the same in those tied too closely to the world.  You gain 5 Qi for every 10 silver something is worth.  

Ex: A 3 HD bull grants 30 Qi.  A 100 silver comb offers 50 Qi.

Granting Prayers:

You can always hear the prayers of your followers.  When you receive a prayer, you can choose to grant it.  This costs Qi.  But when you grant a prayer, there is a chance that your follower thanks you for it or offers a sacrifice.  There is also a chance that a follower can become a fanatic.  

All followers have a X-in-10 chance of thanking you with a prayer or sacrifice when you grant a prayer.  The chance varies depending on how great the request is.  Bigger prayers granted are much more likely to guarantee a return.  

Additionally, all followers have a chance to become fanatics.  Fanatics have much more powerful belief and act differently to normal followers.  Fanatics generate 1 Qi per day all by themselves and unlike other followers they will always obey what they perceive as divine edicts unless you deliberately snub or mistreat them.

All followers have an 1d4 chance of becoming a Fanatic when a prayer is granted.  This is their 'Chance of Fanaticism'.  This chance is determined once.  Each time you grant a follower's prayer, roll 1d20.  If you roll that number of under, he becomes a Fanatic.  This number also increases by 1d4 each time you grant a prayer.  You only have 3 chances to turn someone into a Fanatic- after 3 granted prayers if he isn't a Fanatic, he never will be.

Example Prayers:

Alicia prays for a good grade on her exam.  Grant Cost: 2 Qi.  Alicia's chance of Fanaticism: 1-in-20.

John prays that he wins big at the casino tonight.  Grant Cost: 4 Qi.  John's chance of Fanaticism: 3-in-20.

Melissa prays that her crush, Holland, breaks up with his current girlfriend.  Grant Cost: 6 Qi.  Melissa's chance of Fanaticism: 7-in-20.

Divine Virtues:

These are natural traits you gain as you Ascend up the divine hierarchy and become more and more godlike.  Gods aren't born, they're built, one prayer and 5-cent donation at a time.
Each time you achieve a certain level of Qi or a certain number of Followers, you can gain a Divine Virtue.  

Some Divine Virtues:

Self-Sufficiency: You do not need to eat or drink.  Costs 1 Qi per day.  Unlocked at 20 total Qi or 30 Followers.     

Incorruptible Form: You cannot be affected by diseases or poisons that do not originate from a being as powerful as you.  Costs 3 Qi per day.  Unlocked at 50 total Qi or 70 Followers.  

Immortal Resiliency: You can heal or regenerate.

Unbreakable Flesh: You can give yourself a Damage Threshold.

Divine Beauty: You can make yourself impossibly beautiful.

Mutable Form: You can shape-shift.

Break the Shackles of Earth: You can fly.

The Invisible Hand: You can move objects with your mind, telekinesis. 

The All-Seeing Eye: You can scry.  

by ArtfulBeast

Miracles are works of Divine Power that you can perform to benefit yourself and others.  They are usually rather expensive but their effects are usually very impressive.  Casting Miracles is the easiest way to gather more Followers as well as to prove your superiority over other Gods.  

Example Miracles:

Blessing of Fertility: You bless one creature, increasing it's chance of conception by 50% per point of Qi spent.  If you spend 3 Qi, then any children born will have special blessings such as high intellect, great artistic ability, a talent for martial arts, etc.   

Divine Provision: You conjure food from the ether.  1 Qi grants enough food to feed 10 people.  

Induce Flourishing: One acre of land planted with crops or plants that produce foodstuffs is suddenly ready for harvest.  Costs 10 Qi per acre.  If you spend an additional 5 Qi, it's a bumper crop.    

Fire from Heaven: You summon devastation from the sky that destroys a target of your choice using an appropriate method (fire, terrifying storm, meteor impact, etc).  1 Qi can instantly kill a mortal creature, 10 Qi can destroy up to 100 mortals, 30 Qi can destroy a small city, 50 Qi can destroy a large city or an equivalent area.  


All Gods are tied to one particular thing or series of things.  For example: War, Fertility, Weather, The Harvest.  You start with one aspect.  As you Ascend the divine hierarchy, you can gain new aspects.  Aspects grant you discounts when performing Miracles.  For example, a Harvest God will be able to provide his followers with a good harvest for less Qi than a War or Death God.

You can gain Aspects in two ways, by doing lots of things in the world related to that thing, or by killing and eating other Gods related to that thing.  If you want to be  a War God, bless Warriors, Go to War, encourage your followers to spread your religion through force, etc.

You can also steal Aspects from other Gods by defeating them and assuming their responsibilities.  

Defeating/Destroying a God:

Firstly, you might just be able to kill them.  Not all Gods are immortal and even the ones that are might still be able to die, it will just take more work.  

Secondly, if murder isn't an option, you can defeat a God by destroying his supply of Qi.  Without worship and sacrifices, he won't have any Qi and thus will just be an ordinary creature, who you could then destroy.  So kill his Followers, destroy his temples, humiliate his priests and steal his sacrifices.  

Becoming Immortal:

As you gain more total Qi or gain enough total Followers, you ascend up the Divine Hierarchy.  The higher you are, the tougher you are to kill.

50 total Qi or 100 Followers: You stop aging.  As long as you spend 5 Qi per day, you won't age and can't be aged magically.

100 total Qi or 200 Followers: You become Ageless.  You don't age and cannot be aged magically.  

200 total Qi or 500 Followers: You gain the Specific Death Condition: I cannot die unless it is through heroic sacrifice or I become corrupt and am destroyed by a hero.  If I do not die under one of these conditions, you return to life in 1d8+2 days.  

300 total Qi or 1,000 Followers: You gain the Specific Death Condition: I cannot die unless I am killed by someone with equal than or greater HD than me, or by another God.  If I do not die under one of these conditions, I will return to life in 1d6+1 days.   

500 total Qi or 3,000 Followers: You gain the Specific Death Condition: I cannot die unless I am killed by another being with equal or greater power than me.  If I do not die under one of these conditions, I will return to life in 1d4 days.  

100 total Qi or 10,000 Followers: You gain the Specific Death Condition: I cannot die as long as I have at least 500 worshipers or receive 300 Qi worth of sacrifices in a month.  If I do not die while one of these conditions is in effect, I return to life in 1 day.

by Felipe Martini
External Cultivation- The Path of Earth:

External Cultivation following the Path of Earth is about the total mastery of one's physical form.  It does this through the enhancement of the body through training and the synchronization of Soul and Body.  

As such, training in this method involves two methods- Training and Modification.

Training is as it says- repeating certain actions to improve your skill, as well as your body's ability to endure such activities.  Examples for this include but are not limited to physical exercise, lifting weights, exposing oneself to extreme temperatures and ingesting small amounts of poison, just to name a few.

Modification involves the changing of one's physical body through the use of external surgery, meditation, consuming various substances such as toxins, poisons, narcotics, hallucinogens and various other methods.  

An Example: The Iron Oath Art

Practitioners of the Iron Oath Art spend their time trying to increase the strength of their muscles, the toughness of their flesh and the endurance of their natural weapons.


Training- Spend your time doing hardcore physical training.  Carry a piglet up a mountain each day.  Do this until the hog grows to it's full size.  When you can carry the full-sized pig, find a bigger animal or something heavier and start over.

Modification- Cut yourself open and have them sew the muscle fibers from stronger creatures into your own.  This is highly dangerous and extremely painful, of course.  It will also require you to find said more powerful creatures and kill them to steal their muscle fibers.  


Training- Subject your flesh to repeated physical trauma.  Punch ironwood trees for hours a day.  Hire someone to beat you with first a leather strap, then a stick, then an iron rod.  Make the bludgeon harder and more dangerous as you can endure the former without flinching.  Bathe in super-hot water.  When that no longer bothers you, switch to boiling water.  When you're used to that, try acid or molten metal.

Modification- Take drugs or substances that damage your nerves and make it harder to feel pain.  Consume metal, in powder, shavings or flakes.  Tattoo yourself with ink made partially from the blood of mighty shellfish or creatures with tough hides.

Natural Weapons:

Training- Bite things until you can break them.  Start with ice cubes, move up to nuts, then try soft metals like gold.  Move up when you crush something between your molars.

Modification- Replace your teeth with those of stronger predators or mighty herbivores.  If you want claws, rip out your nails and replace them with metal or the claws of powerful beasts.

by sandara
The Progress Track:

A new member joins the Sect.  He is known as an Initiate.  The Initiate is given a series of challenges to complete.  When he can complete them, he can move up the hierarchy.  If he cannot, he should stop complaining and keep training.

To Advance, an Initiate must be able to:
- Carry a full-sized pig up the mountain to Blueglass Pond and back within 6 hours
- Endure a beating with a wooden rod without crying out in pain
- Crush a peanut in his jaws

Initiates that successfully Advance become Novices.  

To Advance, a Novice must be able to:
- Carry a full-sized cow up the mountain to the river's source and back within 3 hours
- Endure a beating with an iron rod without crying out in pain or suffering serious damage
- Crush a walnut in his teeth  

Novices that successfully Advance become Neophytes.  

To Advance, a Neophyte must be able to:
- Carry a water buffalo up to the mountain peak and back within 2 hours
- Endure a beating with a cat o' nine tails without crying out or suffering serious damage
- Crush a silver ingot in his teeth

Neophytes that successfully Advance become Brothers.  

To Advance, a Brother must be able to: 
- Carry a full-grown elephant up to the mountain peak and back within 1 hour
- Endure a mortal swordsman attempting to cut him for 1 minute without suffering anything beyond superficial damage or showing any signs of serious pain
- Crush an iron ingot in his teeth

Brothers that successfully Advance become Masters.  

To Advance, a Master must be able to:
- Carry a hyper-dense object across the world to the end of the world
- Be struck by a fellow master at full power and not suffer serious injury or die
- Crush a piece of adamantium in his teeth

by LucasParolin
Mechanical Notes- How it Works:

Cultivators following the Path of Earth, while capable of insane physical feats, cannot achieve these through sheer physicality alone.  At a certain point, the limits of material become apparent.  As such, the secret of how they work is that they super-charge their bodies and enhance their already extremely impressive abilities through the use of their Chi.  A physical Cultivator without his Chi is a terrifying warrior, but one with his Chi is less an enemy and more an unrelenting force of total destruction, more comparable to a tsunami or a tornado.

Physical Cultivators as such activate their abilities by entering a Trance State called, Sho-Ri or 'The Emptiness'.  In this state, they can control their body manually and feed Chi directly to whatever part of their body they are currently trying to improve.  

It takes concentration to enter Sho-Ri.  To do so, one must meditate for at least 1 minute or successfully pass a COG check.  On a success, one enters this enlightened state, where the limits of the physical world become easier to ignore.  However, one must be careful, as the flesh is seductive.  Should one take significant damage, encounter a novel or dangerous or particularly potent stimuli or simply have their concentration lapse, the External Cultivator can easily be ejected from Sho-Ri.

Additionally, while Sho-Ri allows one to bend the rules of the physical world, the laws of the world are not easily flouted.  As such, each part of an External Cultivator's body has a Tolerance.  Whenever you attempt to enhance it, you must roll under or equal to the Tolerance of that part of the body.  Each time you enhance that part of the body, you add a +1 bonus to any Tolerance roll.  Roll over it and you breach that body part's Tolerance, which results in taking damage and potential serious injury to that part of the body.  

As long as you do not breach Tolerance, any bonuses to a body part's tolerance disappear once the Cultivator has a chance to eat and rest for at least 8 hours, though it should be noted that many External Cultivators consume vastly more calories than a normal person and can sleep for up to a week if they get the chance.       


Kongo Yala is a External Cultivator following the Path of Earth.  As a Practitioner of the Iron Oath Art, he can enhance his Muscles, his Flesh and his Natural Weapons.  

- If he enhances his Muscles, he can act as if he had a STR ability score of 17(+2) and has advantage on all STR checks and ability scores.  He can also pick up and throw anything less heavy than a horse.  
- His Muscles have a Tolerance of 12.  Current bonus: +2.

- If he enhances his Flesh, he gains a Damage Threshold of 8.  Any damage less than "8" is ignored as if it did not happen.
- His Flesh has a Tolerance of 10.  Current bonus: +1.

Natural Weapons:
- If he enhances his Natural Weapons, his bite attacks do 1d10+Atk damage and can bite through anything an axe could cut through, though he gets -4 to attack anyone with a bite attack if they aren't using a small weapon (dagger, shortsword, brass knuckles, etc).  His claws do 1d8+STR+Atk damage on a hit and can cut through anything softer than metal.
- His Natural Weapons have a Tolerance of 13.  Current bonus: +4.     

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