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A Sample

A Sample

Here is a sample of text from the first scenario. This section concerns the creation of the norito for a harae to purify the personae. Norito The rules for creating each part of the harae are the same, and we will create the norito first. First, one of the personae must come up with a concept for the norito. To do this, roll a number of dice equal to norito knowledge, and keep a number equal to norito skill, following…

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Harae

Harae

Harae is normally translated as “purification”, and this is not a bad translation; harae is how one gets rid of kegare. Harae is very closely linked to misogi, which is also a way to get rid of kegare. Indeed, in contemporary Shinto it is not clear that they are really different, and it is not uncommon to see references to “misogiharae” or “haraemisogi”. The main difference is that misogi involves water, and harae does not. When one enters a jinja,…

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Kegare

Kegare

The basic framework of the game is now largely complete, but one extremely important element is still missing: kegare. Kegare is a central concept in Shinto, and is normally translated as “impurity”. This is not a bad translation, but it is also not quite right. Sometimes, kegare is referred to as “tsumikegare”, which is translated as “sin and impurity”. This is also not quite right. The first point to make is that “impurity” is a better translation than “sin”. Traditionally,…

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Aramitama and Nigimitama

Aramitama and Nigimitama

Kami traditionally have two aspects, called the aramitama and the nigimitama. “Mitama” means spirit or soul, while “ara” means wild and violent, and “nigi” means calm and peaceful. “Aramitama” could be translated as “wild spirit”, and “nigimitama” as “calm spirit”. As kami are often thought of as spirits, it might look as though the aramitama and nigimitama are almost separate kami. Indeed, they are sometimes treated that way. At the Naiku of Jingu in Ise, for example, there are separate…

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Kami

Kami

As we saw from Norinaga’s definition, anything awe-inspiring can be a kami. For Kannagara, kami are going to be personal entities with supernatural power, and, in most cases, they will be spirits. This is partly because most kami are thought of this way in Shinto practice, and also because it works well for the game. Mount Fuji as a kami would not be easy to introduce into play, and it is hard to see how you could interact with it,…

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Kamikakushi

Kamikakushi

A persona who becomes a kannagi can see the supernatural at any time and in any place. The other option, kamikakushi, lets anyone see the supernatural, but only sometimes, and only in particular places. “Kamikakushi” means “hidden by the kami”, and could be translated “Spirited Away”. Indeed, the Japanese title of the Miyazaki anime called “Spirited Away” in English is “Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi”: “Sen and Chihiro’s Kamikakushi”. In kamikakushi, a kami takes a number of people out of…

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Kannagi

Kannagi

A fundamental problem faced by all “modern world with the supernatural” games is how to account for the fact that there is no clear evidence of the supernatural in a world where it definitely exists. That is, for the game world to look like the modern world, there must be no clear evidence for the supernatural generally available, as that is what the modern world is like. However, the supernatural does exist in the game world, so one would expect…

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Jinja Personnel

Jinja Personnel

One important feature of personae is their relationship to the jinja. Kannagara assumes that all personae have a close relationship with a particular jinja, just as Ars Magica assumes that all characters have a close relationship with a particular covenant, and the stories develop around that jinja. There are several different close relationships that a persona can have to a jinja. The first is to be a shinshoku at the jinja. In this case, “priest” is actually a perfectly good…

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Matsuri

Matsuri

Matsuri are the fundamental activity in Shinto. Indeed, a book recently published as an introductory text for people training for the priesthood is called “Jinja and Matsuri”. In contemporary Shinto, most matsuri are extremely ritualised and solemn, but some involve mobs of people running around the town with a giant wooden penis. There is a standard form, but personae have a great deal of freedom in designing matsuri. Conceptually, a matsuri welcomes a honoured visitor, the kami. The people provide…

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Shinto, The Traditional Religion of Japan

Shinto, The Traditional Religion of Japan

Shinto is the traditional religion of Japan. As is normal with real-world situations, every single word (even “is”, “the”, and “of”) in that sentence is controversial, and potentially misleading, but it is still the best place to start. I believe that Shinto is best thought of as a religion, but that word tends to create an inaccurate image. Shinto does not have a founder. It also does not really have sacred texts; the oldest collections of Shinto legends are eighth…

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