Kaona-Taato, or Tattoo Magic for HARP

Copyright Cormac Doyle © 2006

Edited by Mario Butter for The Guild Companion

"The creation of an enchanted tattoo (a Kaona-Taato) permanently alters the bearer's aura to empower the tattoo"

Magic pervades the fabric of existence. It is the force that nurtures, quickens and yet stems from every living thing. Without some measure of magic, the world would be an inert husk of diverse, yet lifeless matter.

Sentience -- the mind or spirit -- is not derived of Magic, yet it is dependent upon it. It is the quintessential essence that binds the Spirit to the flesh. As such, every living creature has a unique matrix or aura -- a thaumic "fingerprint" that binds their spirit to their body. Only the darkest of rituals, or the actions of a God, can rend this matrix asunder -- for ever breaking the bonds that unite the flesh to the spirit, casting the Spirit adrift from its corporeal form.

While there are few magics indeed that can sunder these bonds, the Khalkan shamans have long practiced the art of ritualistic Kaona-Taato. Through the practice of this art, they can -- with great care -- manipulate the aura of their subject to evoke certain effects. In some ways, these effects are akin to the Runes of the Magi, but they are more limited -- as they do not draw on external sources to empower them, but rather draw their power from the very matrix that binds the spirit to the flesh.

The Khalkaš use needles and dye to paint the Kaona-Taato upon their bodies as we would paint pictures upon parchment. Yet these strange symbols are painted not on the skin, but under it, within the physical layers of the body. This causes the picture to remain visible throughout the entire life of its owner (and even beyond). In the same way, the Kaona-Taato is an outward representation of the deft manipulations of the bearer's aura, creating a more permanent magical effect.

The inks used in the Kaona-Taato are not merely the common dyes and inks used by the Scribes and Cartographers of the Kingdoms. Often, the dyes contain diverse constituents such as the burned soot of the kukui nut, fish-bones charred with kukui oil and sandalwood chips, distilled and pressed juices of various fruits and plant roots such as the naneleau.

Often the ritualistic process of creating the complex patterns and symbols that comprise the Kaona-Taato upon the flesh of the bearer takes many days to complete, although this time is principally spent in the physical drawing of the tattoo, which is difficult and must be undertaken with exacting precision. Great care must be taken in this process, especially if the individual already bears such manipulations to their aura.

The creation of an enchanted tattoo (a Kaona-Taato) permanently alters the bearer's aura to empower the tattoo. The careful use of this craft grants the shaman the ability to manipulate the aura of the bearer; however, they must still create the design, and execute it with care and great attention to detail. Therefore, no tattoo can be created without the use of needles and ink.

Before any magical tattoo can be placed on a target, the area of skin must be cleansed of any hair, imperfection, dirt, or oil. A Kaona-Taato takes many hours to inscribe, and larger designs may take more than a single session -- there is only so much punishment that the flesh can take, but more importantly -- too much alteration to the Aura in a single session will risk the stability of the matrix binding the spirit to the flesh, and the bearer may lapse into an involuntary Astral Journey, from which his spirit must be retrieved, lest it become lost and fail to return to the body.

The Rules

The creation of a Kaona-Taato does not draw upon any new skills or abilities, but rather it is the unique combination of these abilities and skills that enables the Shaman to perform these deft manipulations.

The first skill which every good Shaman requires is the Craft of Tattooing. This embodies the deftness of skill and artistry necessary to form the physical aspect of these multifaceted creations. A Shaman whos skill in this craft does not adequately cover the task at hand will take longer, and may cause infection or scarification.

The second ability required to carry out this task is an understanding of the way in which it is possible to manipulate a person's aura to create these effects. This Lore (Arcane Lore: Aura Manipulation) is similar in many ways to the Lores of the Magi (Arcane Lore: Spell Lore), but is more specialized.

Finally, the process of actively manipulating the aura of the bearer must be mediated through the expenditure of power. The spell Manipulate Aura enables the caster to make the minute, yet critical, adjustments to the aura that forms the matrix binding the bearer's spirit and flesh.

o Embedding Limitations (Caster):
A Shaman can only create a Koana-Taato for a spell that they know. Additionally, the Shaman can research one "Talent" for every 5 ranks they have in Arcane Lore: Aura Manipulation. Spells may be implemented in a scaled form.

o Embedding Limitations (Bearer):
Every Koana-Taato modifies (and potentially weakens) the very matrix that binds the spirit to the flesh. As such, there is a finite limit to the number of Koana-Taato that can be accepted by a person's Aura before it looses coherency. This limitation varies slightly from race to race, and from person to person. As a general rule, this works out to be

50 + (Racial Magic Resistance Bonus) + (Presence Stat Bonus)

o Embedding Requirements:
To successfully embed a spell or talent, the Shaman must successfully cast Manipulate Aura (appropriately scaled) once per hour during the Tattooing process. This process will slowly embed the active matrix of the spell or talent into the aura of the bearer. However, this means that the active spell/talent matrix must also be active, so the Spell/Talent to be embedded must also be held in an "Active" state during the embedding process. (Mechanically -- this is modeled by casting the scaled version of Manipulate Aura, and also casting the scaled version of the other spell or expending in PP's the DP cost of the Talent every hour during the embedding/tattooing process).

Embedded Spells

Kaona-Taato can only be used to inscribe spells that directly affect the inscribed individual. Thus a "Steelskin" spell could be embedded, but a "Fireball" could not. The following Middle-Magic spells are appropriate for embedding in Kaona-Taato.

Universal Sphere
Banish Fatigue (CoM); Blur; Boost XXX; Landing; Moving Ways; Water Breathing (CoM); Water Vision (CoM)

Cleric Sphere
Animal Forms; Nature's Strength; Nature's Tongues; Plant Disguise; Tree Merge; Tree Skin;

Harper Sphere
Changing Ways; Project Voice (CoM); Quiet Ways

Mage Sphere
Fly; Haste; Invisibility; Merging Ways; Misfeel; Passing;

Ranger Sphere
Hues; Nature's Awareness (CoM); Predict Weather (CoM); Traceless Passing; Vision Protection (CoM)

Warrior Mage Sphere
Mighty Charge; Resist Damage; Sharpshooter (CoM); Steel Skin; Warrior's Might

Elementalist Circle
Stoneskin (CoM); Elemental Aura (CoM); Elemental Resistance (CoM); Underwater Movement (CoM);

Necromancer Circle
Nightvision (CoM)

Thaumaturge Circle
Deflect Spell (CoM); Spell Resistance (CoM); Spell Shield (CoM)

Vivamancer Circle
Growth (CoM); Shrink (CoM)

Embedded Talents

The following Talents are appropriate for embedding within a Tattoo. Talents that solely provide bonuses to individual skills, Resistance Rolls, etc and those encapsulating Training (Shield Training, etc.) are inappropriate and should not be permitted.

From HARP Core Rules
Accelerated Healing; Blazing Speed; Dark Vision (Greater, Lesser); Enhanced Scent; Enhanced Senses; Instinctive Defense; Lightning Reflexes; Neutral Odor; Night Vision; Regeneration (Minor, Major, Greater), Sense Magic, Speed Loader

Racial Talents
Natural Camouflage; Natural Immunity; Stone Sense

New Spell: Manipulate Aura

PP Cost: 9

Range: Touch

Duration: Concentration

Spell Type: Utility

RR: —

Spheres: Thaumaturge

Description: The caster manipulates the Aura (the Essential Matrix) of the person to simulate a talent or specific magical ability or spell effect. Using the Base form of this spell, the talent's DP cost or the Spell PP Cost must be 10 points or less. The effects of the embedded Talent are considered to be continuous. In the unscaled version of the spell, an embedded Spell is limited to functioning once a day. Details of the embedded spell are laid out below.

Scaling Options:
Greater Talent (per extra DP of Talent) +1PP
Increase Matrix Potency: (increases PP limitation, on a 1 for 1 basis) +1PP
Constant Effect: +20PP
Trigger Effect: +10PP
"At Will" Effect: +20PP


Action Aspects -- Instill ... 15

Object Aspects -- Body (5); Magic (10*2=20)

Attributes -- Utility; Casting Time - -; Range: Touch (10); AoE: 1 Target (10); Duration: Concentration (10); 100 pts for 10 PP matrix potential

Base Cost: (40+30+100)/20 = 9