Saturday, 31 October 2020

Chai for Shadow Jam

Sadly having nothing to do with lovely Paper Elemental's Platescape, Shadow Jam is a setting I tinkering with through the summer and in bits and pieces since the last year. It is based on Shadow Warrior 1 and 2, the reboot and the subsequential sequel to the said reboot of the old FPS with a dubious sense of humour. While comparing SW1 to SW2 is like comparing an apple to another, very similar apple, as it is with so many throwaway videogame settings there is a lot of small interesting details in both games to keep the imagination asking if there is more can be done with such setup.

One of such details were a casual couple of lines from SW2 that the tea is kind of a luxurious rarity in the post-Collision world, both because of how difficult it is to grow actual tea now – demonic storms and overabundance of hostile flora along with the collapse of the infrastructure are to blame – and because it also seems to restore the magic power better than anything else.

Tea ceremony is an important ritual in Shadow Jam; "Demon Tea" by Nahamut

 "Why is it called chai? Because it is not chi."

Chi (or qi) used to describe the measure of magical energy in pre-Collision Earth when it was an extremely scarce phenomenon: it took twenty years to learn to do anything with it, and another twenty years to do anything half-way useful. The scarcity of Old-Earth mages was not due to some conspiracy aimed to keep the masses from awakening (although such conspiracies did exist), but in the fact that very few people were ready to dedicate their whole life to harsh cultivation of a talent that could have been easily countered or overshadowed by pretty much anything widely available technology could do. Spending twenty years just to learn how to make tiny flames doesn't look that much appealing when lighters exist.

Old-Earth chi was most prominent in humans who could, through determined training, elevate it to do then-extraordinary feats. But even in such practitioners its capacity was like a very threadbare mist when compared to post-Collision  where the abundance of such energy is streaming from demonic world Xanadu through shadowlands, and saturating Earth like an ever-present rain. What previously took lifetime to master now takes only a few months, and what best magic the adepts could do pre- and post-Collision differs drastically. The term chai itself was, at some point, just a pun joke, highlighting the difference between what old and new mages were capable of doing, but it stuck in common perception to the point that in tea-deprived world of Shadow Jam new generations take it for granted. 

* * *

Chai is a seventh stat for Shadow Jam system, and it measures a power/capacity for magic in an each given entity. Abundance of magic means that each and every person (and most not-persons) have this stat at some capacity and are capable to do with it a few things even when untrained in actual magic.

  • so chai helps to withstand magical effects and do magic, straightforwardly enough. 
  • as a consequence, higher chai helps survive in shadowlands a little longer.
  • chai can solidify an oath/contract, making it into sealed oath/contract and incurring consequences for breaking it. 
  • point of chai can be used to enhance almost any kind of roll; it isn't uncommon for competitive gamblers to have chai-offs with each other, eventually draining themselves dry.
  • point of chai can permanently imbue an simple object or a simple being, turning them into a familiar. This is one of the few 'witchy' things that tough guys and gals in Independence are fond of doing, usually to their guns and on a regular basics.
  • point of chai can be used to name a true demon, weakening them a little. When used temporarily it is of little effect on anybody but seed and maybe root demons, but if a permanent point of chai is used for naming, and the namer is close in the level of power to the demon in question, the demon can be hampered and has a high chance of catching FND-Syndrome, thus sooner or later losing their true demonic nature.
  • by permanently sacrificing half of their Chai score, the entity can auto-resurrect themselves from almost any condition of demise. Due to how severe this effect is on actual mages – basically, loping off any extra capability they have – some prefer to die rather than see their wonderment and power be crushed and hollowed out of them. Most of people have about three resurrections and use up the first chance by their twenties. Living dead happen when auto-resurrection leaves chai at zero. 
Dedicated mages would obviously be better at all these kinds of things but many loath to spend chai on anything but the magic itself, while people of simpler means and ways usually benefit more from innate capabilities of chai in everyday life.


  1. I never thought I'd have any interest in those Shadow Warrior games, but this is an interesting observation and a cool setting detail.

    1. There are quite a few such details in the games, which is why I think the setting has a lot of potential.
      I am kind of afraid of incoming Shadow Warrior 3, because it will probably mess up the headcanon I made already.