Powers of the Nigimitama

Powers of the Nigimitama

When we come to define the game-mechanical powers that fall under each of the mitama, we are moving firmly beyond anything established in Shinto theology or legend, and into the purview of game design. The powers here are designed to allow kami in the game to do the things that kami do in legend, but they have no specific basis in those legends. I am making stuff up.

As discussed in the previous post, the nigimitama favours the status quo, and wants to keep things the way they are. This could be a single power, but I’d like kami to be more distinct than that, so I will split it into four separate powers.

The first is wisdom. This means understanding the way that things are, and allows the kami to both comprehend things for herself, and to grant knowledge to people who ask for it. The second is healing. This does cover curing diseases and injuries, but it is more general. It is the ability to restore the status quo when it has been damaged, so it would cover repairing items and relationships as well as simply medical issues. The third is protection. Protection stops the status quo from changing, primarily by resisting outside influences, but also by restricting internal changes. The final power is prosperity. Prosperity is growth and development within the constraints of the status quo. Becoming a better baseball player as you practice is a form of prosperity, but so is a good harvest, or a good year of sales from a business. Starting a new business is not, however, covered by prosperity, because that changes the status quo.

Each of these four powers is a separate game statistic for the kami. Specifically, I think that it will be a number of dice to keep, but I will get on to that in a later post.

An obvious question here is “what is the status quo?”. Normally, this is easy to answer: it is the way that things are. However, when a kami uses healing the way things are right now is not the status quo; that is why the status quo needs to be restored. In most cases, the question is still easy. A person does not normally have a cold, and not having a cold is better, so the cold is not the status quo, and can be removed by healing. When the question gets difficult, the determining factor is what the kami thinks. Does the kami think that something is part of the normal situation in the area? This does not mean that the kami is in favour of that feature of the situation, because all kami have an aramitama as well, but it does mean that the kami accepts it as “the way things are”. That means that it is possible to move something from the purview of the aramitama to the nigimitama, or vice versa, by convincing the kami that a given situation is normal or otherwise.

A particular kami might still think, even in 2013, that it is normal for women to be subservient to men, in which case the nigimitama could use healing to remove a woman’s independent spirit. If the kami thought this was normal but bad, of course, the aramitama might bring about changes. If a different kami thought that independence was normal, then the nigimitama could restore a woman’s independent spirit through healing.

Just as with people, most kami prefer things the way they are, for the most part, which means that the kami are normally called upon to operate through the nigimitama, and generally prefer to do so. There are, of course, exceptions, and the powers of the aramitama are important to all kami. They will be the subject of the next post.

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