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Avatar The Last Airbender RPG

737 years after the fall of Ozai, and the world is once again on the brink of collapse. Sudden, random rebellions supported by unknown parties have sprung up across all nations. With the next Avatar undiscovered, the world's hope begins to crumble.
 
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 The Way of Man

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Vermilion Emperor Kouzai
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PostSubject: The Way of Man   Fri Nov 07, 2014 1:43 am

Over the past two years I have collected knowledge given to me, learned, and read of in other books.  I always say I want to help others, and have them benefit from knowledge I wish I could've benefited from.  Here is sorta my magnus opus.  My Way of Man.  A collection of knowledge derived from those who write of Bushido and the way of Samurai. I have made them work with the world of today as well.  Hopefully someone finds these tidbits useful.

1 – Of Fate and Virtue, I
Some men move through the world leaving as little trace as a drop of water moving through a stream.

Other men do not.

Other men are rocks; resolute against the current.  Forcing all those mere drops to turn aside and pass them by.

Not water, nor rock, nor man has any choice in the matter.  It is a question of fate.

It is not the lawless ones who betray.  How can one betray when one has offered no allegiance?

Instead beware the man obsessed with law.  Fear the man who admits no space between the law and honor.  Such men are deficient because they have never truly lived.

The sword is the weapon of the hero and murderer alike.

The frown and the furrowed brow are the tools of betrayal.

With such glances fate do its work.

The first order of a man is to serve his master.  A single betrayal is more shameful than a thousand murders.

Betrayal makes widows of women and monsters of men.  The lives of those who suffer it and the souls of those who commit it are but rice for its table.

Betrayal is destruction, as pure as it can be found in the world.

Betrayal is the atavistic spirit of man laid bare.

And yet all glorious rise of man has been an upward spiral of betrayal and vengeance.

2 – Of Fate and Virtue, II
All things good and evil are under the way.  Even betrayal is but a ripple through the weave of human destiny.

A man’s fate is determined at the moment of his birth.  But, since the man cannot know this fate until it arrives, his life is still under his own control.

All that will be is already done, but that does not relieve us of the doing.

Thus understanding the nature of fate, the first principles of the way of man follow naturally.

Meet death with the same heart and the same mind as one uses to do anything else.  The moment of death is no different than any other.

So too meet life in this same spirit; as if death were always at hand, yet as if one were an immortal.

Show no mercy to one’s self, but even less to one’s enemies, for your fate and his have both been written since before the first dawn.

At the moment of death, resolve to die facing one’s enemy.

Even a corpse should not retreat.

Honor the wisdom of the past and plan against the troubles of the future, all from the present moment.

Do not become unbalanced by the swirling of the foregone fate.

Even if it seems certain that you will loose, retaliate.

Neither wisdom nor technique has a place in this.

A real man does not think of victory or defeat.

He plunges recklessly towards an irrational death.

By doing this, you will awaken from your dreams.

A man exists for a generation; his name lasts for all time.

Do not break the bonds of family.

When vengeance is required…take it.

When comfort is required…give it.

In all things, do everything that is required, and do nothing else.

Look for destiny and it does not exist.  Focus your mind on living, and destiny will appear.

3 – Of Change
All things change, even the stalwart man cannot resist this.

But there are some moments when some men of high and laudable character can, through their own indomitable spirits, resist some small piece of the world’s wanton destruction.

Commitment is the first virtue of man.  The strength to endure what another cannot endure will achieve all great things.

Give up your old mind and train a new mind.  Give up your old soul and forge a new soul.

Give up your old name and take a new name.  Pass away from your old life and be reborn into a new life as the person who has the thing you desire.

As the old things fall away, do not dare to question the cost.  Know only that it waits to be paid.

A glowing ember to spark a pyre of vengeance,

A lost secret for a lost soul,

A noble lie for a noble cause,

The world itself started from such humble things as these.

And the source of all costs is love.  Love of another, love of self, love of family.  All the very things that make the Sun shine and the rain fall also open our hearts to the costs that wait to be paid.

Even the new-forged man, with a new mind, a new soul, and a new name must emerge from the chrysalis into the same cruel world.

But the true stalwarts, those capable of great deeds face that cruel world without hesitation.  They turn their faces towards a howling wind and dare the storm to come against them.  From such foolish courage, greatness is born.

In the end, all principle, all codes run up hard against the immovable realities of human life.  The way is not always clear.  This is why service to the will of the masters is paramount.  It allows a man’s heart to remain pure.

And yet, as a man moves through the world, seeking only to serve his master, the world thrusts its darkness upon his heart.

This darkness, this uncertainty, is poison to a man.

Before a battle, a man must search his heart, and scour his mind, to clear away all doubt.

But sometimes the man tries to search his heart while his sword is in his hand.

This is not virtue.

A man must never forget that the purpose of living is the service of his master.  When in doubt, the master’s will.  When afraid, the master’s will.  The master’s will at dawn, the master’s will at dusk.

Forget your fear.  Forget your doubt.  Forget your self.

Become an extension of your master’s will, and the way will open before you.

Then all but deeds will fall away, and you will be what a man must be.

This giving over of yourself is the virtue of commitment.

This is the power of man.

Yet this power will not hold the world at bay.

For even as you serve your master your enemy is serving his.  Thus are things taken.  Thus are enemies made.  Thus is vengeance required.

4 – Of Creation
It is good to be there at the beginning of something to create its entire form with one’s own spirit.

All the best things are made this way, by those who have the vision and audacity.

Creation can be shared, vision can be shared.

If minds are in harmonious form, greatness flowers.

So it was the day the Earth was created, and the Gods gave birth to mankind.

5 – Of Fate and Virtue, III
The second virtue of man is focus.  When executing a task, the final effort must be as focused as the first.  Make a statement.  Leave no doubt.

The first man to speak in an encounter puts himself at a disadvantage.  Speaking is like fighting.  Show the opponent nothing.


6 – Of Action
The way of man is in immediacy.

Handing back is the hallmark of the coward.

And yet, training and practice are the foundation of a man’s temple.

He who practices hardest, and best, will be fastest when the moment of fate arrives.

Yet how are we to know the moment of our fate?  Too easily, patience can become cowardice.  Calmness can become hesitation.  Caution can become doubt.

No great thing is accomplished in one step.

That is why there are masters and there are retainers.

A master must plan, and a retainer must be ready to die.  This is the essence of each.

A master is a falcon, flying high above the world to achieve infinite vision.

A retainer is a sword, still until drawn by the master, yet with an edge barely contained beneath a scabbard.

When an enemy presents himself, there is no more hesitation.  That is the moment of fate.  Seize such a moment, or your enemy will.

7 – Of Fate and Virtue, IV
The third virtue of man is obedience.

Small obedience is the father of great regret.

It destroys the exchange between master and retainer.

The hand of a man knows when his heart is troubled.  From such hesitation, Empires crumble.

It is good to be virtuous.  But no combination of virtues will allow a man to escape his fate.

No virtue can stop an arrow.

No virtue can turn a sword.

No virtue can cushion a fall.

Nor can make whole a shattered jar.

Yet life rushes on at every moment.  It does not wait for virtue, just as it does not wait for vice.  A man must meet each moment will all virtue he possesses, mindful of the fact that his moment of fate might arrive at any time.

The world is a contradiction.  It exists as nothing more than the tension between these things.  Between virtue and desire.  Between victory and defeat.  Between life and death.  All that we are and all that we do are what creates the world, and yet we are at the world’s mercy.  Such is the nature of fate.

8 – Of Suffering, I
There are four ascending levels of suffering in the world.  The first level of suffering is to witness the pain of an innocent.  This offends the heart of any person who treasures justice.

The world is a cage.  For the powerless, air is as binding as bars.  And all those demons just outside the cage are always slavering and growling and looking for ways to slip in.

There are two ways to respond to suffering, and the fear that suffering inspires.

There is the way of the coward, and the way of the brave.

The coward way is the way of retreat.  The retreat of lowered eyes…

The retreat of a young, beaten down servant boy…

The retreat of a girl who knows she is an example…

But a man does not retreat.  Not from fear, and not from suffering.

A man waits, and gathers suffering as fuel for the fires of his heart.

He gathers all the indignity and shame the world can offer, and forges his soul into a finely honed edge.

A man accepts suffering with the fluidity of a river, and the stillness of a mountain.

He bides his time until he arrives at the moment of his fate.

And when that moment arrives…

When the world offers him a sword…

A man does not hesitate.

Rarely are victory and defeat as simply as thrusting a sword through a torso.  Most battles are fought on far more subtle fields than that.

The waiting of a man will persist long after its novelty is gone.

Suffering is a constant presence in this world.

The rhythm of suffering can grind even the strongest man into a common wretch.

Even pouring tea can become an act of shame.

But a true man, of pure blood and sharp mind, does not become unbalanced.  His waiting will take him even unto the ending of the world.

The world is crueler to women.  Men at least have the satisfaction of sliding steel into occasional flesh.  Many a woman has sat for a day or for a lifetime at the side of her most hated enemy without daring so much as an unkind word.  Not for fear of her enemy, but for fear of the world.  Perhaps suffering cannot touch her, but neither can she lay hand to suffering.  She is doomed to dance at arm’s length as the sun rises and falls eternally.

Suffering is like the falling snow; tiny flakes cover all the ground in the world.  A man waits, and dances, and struggles, and triumphs.  Yet suffering piles up around him, uncaring for all his best efforts.

9 – Of Suffering, II
The second level of suffering in the world is to cause the pain of an innocent.  Merely bearing witness to pain can be washed away, but the cries of our own making stay with us forever.

We all move through the world like leaves floating on a stream.  Some delude themselves into thinking they can direct the current, but a man does not.  He accepts the suffering that is his to endure, and waits for his moments of fate to present themselves.

10 – Of Suffering, III
The third level of suffering in the world is to have pain imposed on one’s self by another.  In this case, far greater than any sensation of pain is helplessness.

No pain imposed from without can penetrate deeply enough to destroy what we are, but that helplessness can cut to the very core.

11 – Of Life and Death
The world is only a dream.  A spell whose power is broken by waking.

When you realize this, even a nightmare cannot hold you in its grip.
Death is a realm where shame cannot follow.

We cannot remember our current life in the next.  This is the mercy of the universe.

12 – Of Vengeance
To fight back is the highest of callings.

A man has no use for such words.

Sages have written of accepting suffering as the course of life.

Words mean nothing when the moment arrives.

A man speaks with his sword, with his hands, and with the fires of his heart.

Vengeance takes a new form for each person.  Like a name, like a face, like a life.  Vengeance does not prevent suffering, far from it, but vengeance can relieve the sting for one glorious moment.  The moment of a man’s fate.

13 – Of Suffering, IV
The final level of suffering in this world is the pain we cause ourselves.

To give in to fear or doubt or desire and willingly sacrifice one’s self upon its altar is the deepest form of suffering.

The suffering is akin to death.

Or, indeed, even worse than mere dying.

The world is crueler for women, by far.  They can be killed by steel, by arrow, by fire or famine, just as a man.  But that is only the beginning.  By the time a woman’s flesh dies, her spirit may have died a thousand tiny deaths, invisible to any who does not know the signs.

For women must run gauntlets in the world that men cannot begin to imagine.

All that suffers can seek vengeance.  All that seeks vengeance will suffer.  All who betray will be betrayed.  All who usurp will be usurped.  A man of true character knows he cannot prevent this cycle.  But many a man who has ended with wisdom has begun with anger.  Many who end with peace, begin with hate.

14 – Of Love, I
All betrayal begins with love.  Without that bond, without that vulnerability, there is nothing to betray.

Promises made with eyes and tongues and hearts…become blood spilled with swords and teeth and claws.

Love makes us fools, it makes us blind.  It captures our eye and leaves blind spots in which our enemies can hide.

Love can tie us up in such knots that even our friends become our enemies.  Even the bond between master and retainer can be broken by love.

Such a powerful force, of such imperious complexity, is not to be found elsewhere in the world.  Love and betrayal are two sides of the same, precious coin.

15 – Of Fate and Virtue, V
A man must embrace what most men are terrified to acknowledge…

The plain truth is that a human life is determined by a handful of moments, perhaps a dozen in even an eventful life.

All the rest of living is mere recovery from the last moment of fate, or preparation for the next.

16 – Of Leadership and Betrayal
There is no lonelier task than to lead.  It sharpens to a soul-piercing point all the questions of love and betrayal that make the world already nearly unbearable.  The burden has cast down many a great man.

Any man of high or low rank has cause for shame if he has not put his life on the line at least once.

17 – Of  Leadership and Betrayal, II
Blood cleanses; it purifies.

It reduces the world to its most basic elements.

Love and betrayal are the same, for both end on the point of some sword or arrow.

All life is love, all death is betrayal.  No one escapes these things.

It is with blood, his own and his enemy’s, that a leader justifies and purifies himself.

It is how he proves his worth.

It is how he excuses all the terrible deeds that shall surely become his fate.

For blood is the destiny of all those who would dare to greatness.

There is no other path.

There is only blood.

18 – Of Betrayal I
Scheming is the worst sort of thing.  It is the intersection of leadership and betrayal.  It eats away at the soul until a man forgets himself.  Until he is covered in sudden blood that he had never anticipated spilling.

Yet a great man can hardly reach his destiny without schemes.

Betrayal can come from anywhere.  From a master, from a lover, from a friend.  Any of these betrayals can destroy.

But no betrayal can match the betrayal of self.

19 – Of Betrayal, II
Inside each of us there is a voice, which whispers justice in our ears.  Sometimes we shut this voice away, or fail to heed its call, in the service of love, or honor, or service of one’s master.  These are betrayals of a minor scope, easily excused.

But sometimes, some horrible times, a man hears the voice of justice loud and clear, but willfully refuses its order.  Sometimes a man of great power and great righteousness seizes onto some evil that he greatly desires, knowing all the while that it is not justice…

That seizing is what is called making a friend of horror.

And horror is a friend that cannot be unmade.

Once horror is inside us, it does not leave.

We live with it, or we do not, but we are changed in either case.

This horror is the betrayal of self.

It is the taking into one’s self all the evil of the uncaring world.

All other betrayals spiral into his final breaking.  All love; all sacrifice, all reason of all kinds, find their endpoint here, and can go no further.

Human beings can change, oh yes, but we cannot change back.  Not from this.

20 – Of Fate and Redemption, I
Yet everything that is has risen from ashes of something else.  And even from the depths of greatest despair, even from the bottom of the ocean, even from death itself, redemption is possible.  This is the essence of the struggle.

It is only from the deepest darkness that true redemption is possible.

The kind of redemption that transcends a single life, and becomes a work of fate.

And yet to hold someone else’s fate is very different to be at fate’s mercy.

A blind strike may kill anyone.

No man sees the workings of fate until it has him by the throat.

And once he is in fate’s grip, there are no more choices.  Only redemption, only vengeance.

Everyone has come from somewhere, and thus the story of any lineage is as old as the land itself, and endless cycle of betrayal and vengeance, of fate and redemption.  There have been stalwarts and cowards.  There has been victory and defeat.  It is those who endure who make both the future and the past.

21 – Of Conflict
Put two of anything in a cage long enough and one of them ends up dead.

And sometimes, for some men of great pride and great power, even the whole world is too small of a cage to live in together.

It is these total conflicts between great powers, whether inside a single mind and soul or between two blood enemies bound to travel together, that stoke the fires of fate to their white-hot peak.

22 – Of Fate and Redemption, II
But fate does not only take away. Not only destroy.

Fate provides as much bounty as dearth.

It delivers our enemy as often as it lets him slip away.

Even from within its grasp, all things are possible.

And for a man who has committed himself, who will cut off his life for the sake of righteousness, fate will do all things.

For a man such as this, fate is a true friend.
It is only in this way, by passing through the gauntlet of fate and emerging unbroken, that redemption is possible.  We do not direct the current.  But we can swim across the river, with a bit of luck.

23 – Of Soldiers and Men
The true powers of a man are a mystery.  But one of its first principles is stoutness of body.  A man with the proper degree of physical and mental training can outrun a horse over a long enough distance.

All men are alike because all men will one day die.  He who prefers death to dishonor is a warrior.  An honorable death is all the redemption such a man needs.

But perhaps such a warrior is also a fool.

24 – Of Past and Future
The past and future are long and uncertain.  They cannot fit within the grasp of an outstretched hand.  For living there is only this one moment called now.  Only this one moment for redemption.  Only this one moment for vengeance.  Only this one moment for fate.

25 – Of Fate and Vengeance
Not all destinies contain vengeance.  But all righteous vengeance is a part of destiny.

There have been vengeful conquests that toppled Empires.

There have been secret vengeful moments that have bespoiled single human lives.

Yet all vengeance is a journey, with purity of purpose to counterbalance the obscurity of right and wrong.

And each journey must have an ending.

The moment of fate is only a single drop of water in a vast ocean.

It passes in the blinking of an eye, and fades into mere memory like any other moment.

As a drop is lost forever in the ocean, so the moment of fate is submerged in the endless sea of history.

And yet no drop shimmers so in the sun, as no moment shimmers in the memory, like that one, timeless moment of fate.

All before fate is darkness; all after is chaos.

Yet the power of that one moment can change the whole world.
We own our fate, and our fate owns us.  Like a snake, swallowing its own tail.

This is the paradox of being alive.

And yet even this analysis, within the moment itself, is useless.  When the power of fate grabs those lucky enough to be chosen, there is no more thinking.

All that questioning is merely the veil we draw to hide the unmistakable evidence of our enslavement evidence of enslavement to these few moments of fate.

A warrior, a Wiseman, or any true man, is a person who can open his eyes to this bondage, escape it, and be free.

Fate does not exist as an abstraction. We must fill fate with ourselves in order for it to be realized.

Vengeance promises nothing.  It solves nothing.  It is itself a promise.  An end, not a means.

A rock strong enough to stand up against the current.

One real thing in a world filled with shadows and madness.

In this world nothing is truly possessed nor truly lost.  Only steered this way or that on its journey through this endless sea.  Each fate gives way to another.  All the important battles last far longer than a single human life.  And so each end is a beginning as well.

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