Introduction by the Sect Leader
In this winter of tiancang, the year 248, I, Di Guyun, Sect Leader of the Awakened Sword Paradise (a Recognized Heavenly Abode), holder of a golden core forged according to the law of the Seven Slaughtering Sword, have the occasion to celebrate the appointment of Miao Yin to our hall of masters.
It is sixteen days since Miao Yin attained human form, and one day since she passed the rigors of the shapeshifting tribulation. This is an achievement of which she can be proud, for her efforts over those fifteen days have been constant. We knew, when she awakened, that she did not have long before the tribulation came. It would have grieved me to kill her, as I have been forced to kill every other yao gui cultivator who has joined our school. They have all failed when confronted with the tribulation. Her success and survival brings us hope.
Other schools have been less fortunate, even though they were guided by the same heavenly ancestor. The first fell when the sect leader transformed into a hideous demon snake and killed everyone. The second became too famous, and did not have the martial capabilities required to pay the price of fame.
In my conversations with the heavenly ancestor, I sensed great confusion in him. What was the nature of the challenge he faced? How could he begin to understand what was asked of him? The heavenly debating halls seemed to be filled with answers: but what were the right questions?
If you know enough to know the questions, then you can begin to understand the answers. I offer you now, a beginning, on the path of xiandao.
Cultivators are people who are pursuing immortality. Everyone in your sect is there because the sect has a way to achieve immortality (perhaps more than one).
Outer Disciples are people who have joined the sect, but who do not yet have the spiritual and physical discipline required to bend reality. They (usually) spend part of every day in Foundation Training, where they practice focusing the mind while performing martial arts. Foundation training is a challenging time, and distractions can be immediately erase all progress in laying the foundation. For this reason, they outer disciples are forbidden to leave the grounds of the sect.
Inner Disciples have laid a foundation and then adopted a Law that creates their destiny. All of the starting laws are laws of xiandao cultivation: schools of wizardry, witchery and sorcery.
For an inner disciple to use bodily power on mundane tasks would indicate a loss of faith in magic: therefore inner disciples will not perform routine tasks in and around the sect. The ability to leave the sect grounds means that they have an important role to play in day-to-day operations: trips to a forest, mountain, or marketplace are an important part of keeping the sect healthy and prosperous.
Inner disciples of xiandao cultivation are often classified by the work they are doing.
Qi Shaping cultivators are learning to manipulate and shape the energy of the universe.
Core Shaping cultivators are learning to manipulate the magical energy of their own soul.
Golden Core cultivators have shaped their soul into a fixed, golden-glowing core.
Primordial Spirit cultivators and Demigods are beyond even my knowledge at this time. Perhaps Miao Yin will surpass me, and attain this state before I do. Now that I know she won’t be possessed by a demon and kill us all, I am willing to allow it.
Humans are the most common type of cultivator, and human heavenly ancestors will already be familiar with the important concepts.
Yao Gui cultivators are animals who have achieved enlightenment and gained the ability to take human form. For every Yao Gui cultivator, there is a demonic essence that wants to possess the Yao Gui and wreak havoc. When the shapeshift tribulation timer expires, the demonic essence will launch a powerful attack that must be defeated. If the demon wins this battle, the Yao Gui will take all of the spiritual and physical power it has obtained and attack its former friends. Training a Yao Gui cultivator is a risk that should be considered appropriately.
Tribulations occur when the universe launches an attack on a cultivator. They are dangerous to the cultivator, and to nearby people and objects. In a heavenly tribulation, one of the five elements will be summoned in the form of a storm that attacks the cultivator. In a shapeshifting tribulation, each of the five elements will launch a powerful attack in turn, with no respite between these attacks.
The more combat-worthy a cultivator is, the better their odds of winning (and therefore surviving) against a tribulation.
Cultivators who follow a xiandao law will have a bad mood if they do not possess an artifact and a weapon. This is because they expect that they will have to enter combat at some point.
The moment a xiandao cultivator enters combat, they will launch their artifact towards their opponent. If the artifact strikes the opponent, it will do damage: the artifact will then need to wait until it attack cooldown expires before it can do damage again. It will also need to circle around and strike the opponent again.
If the artifact hits an opponent’s artifact, it will cause knockback to the artifact. Rather than take damage themselves, xiandao cultivators will focus on brining their opponent’s artifact down first.
Spells are not stopped by artifacts and they don’t miss.
Conventional weaponry is a last resort, used when your artifact is down and your opponent is still coming.
When taking damage, a xiandao cultivator will automatically spend enough qi to absorb the attack before it harms their body. In a battle between powerful mages, the first attack to break through the shield is typically the one that stops the fight.
Generally speaking, a qi-shaping cultivator will be able to take on several ordinary mortals and win. A core-shaping cultivator will have much more qi than a qi-shaping cultivator, and a wider repertoire of skills. A golden-core cultivator is in the next league up, and so on.
Developing a cultivator
The first task is to lay the foundation. For most people, this means many many hours of training. Alternatively, a Forming Pill will instantly and magically create a complete foundation. Various herbs and remedies provide a less dramatic acceleration.
In Xiandao cultivation, the most visible progress after forming the foundation comes from acquiring skills and skill levels. Each law has its own tree of custom skills that fascinate and intrigue. There are also a set of skills displayed in the bottom-left corner of the screen that are neither fascinating nor intriguing: they simply make you better at doing things.
Skills can be acquired instantly, through spending inspiration XP via the character screen. Skills from skill trees can also be learned by reading: much is owed to those who write down the laws they have studied, and the knowledge they have learned. Some advanced practitioners are able to provide personal guidance, but it takes a lot of confidence to provide such tuition.
Every skill level brings with it some measure of attainment. The more you have attained, the more you have to reconcile what you learn with the things you already know. It is therefore wise to learn now those things that are most appropriate to one’s needs, and to avoid cluttering the mind with irrelevancies and distractions. Those who strive for efficiency will wait before studying certain skills.
Limits will occur on every path. Most limits are fairly straightforward: the cultivator spends all of their maximum qi, then meditates as they reshape something (typically their own mind) into the form required for the next stage of their advancement. Some limits require the use of a special item, others are dangerous, and some simply and directly reduce the cultivator’s lifespan. When contemplating a breakthrough, it is important to note the cost: some breakthroughs cost more than qi. When you have reached a limit, there is no point in any further Practice. But Training and Mind continue to be worthwhile activities.
The importance of Mind
It is possible, through the acquisition of various arts and the consumption of various substances, to achieve stability of mind without engaging in the various forms of relaxation that come about by focusing on Mind (rather than Practice or Training). This is not without risk: the accumulation of distracting experiences can lead a practitioner into the excesses of Hedonism, or the wastefulness of Pride.
If you wish to avoid acquiring harmful personality characteristics, it is wise to allow time for relaxation.
The world does not forget. Your good acts will not cancel out your evil deeds: if you do both, you will have a reputation for both. As your reputation grows, so will the motives of those who would be the undoing of your sect. They will not stop unless you are destroyed, but they will not intensify their attacks until they have a stronger motivation.
There are ways of exploring and interacting with the world that will go unnoticed. There are ways of exploring and interacting with the world that attract attention. Understand the difference, and the commitment to defence you are making when you attract attention.
Alternatives to xiandao cultivation
There are practitioners who claim that tiandao cultivation (the way of godhood) and physical cultivation (the way of bodily perfection) are viable alternatives to xiandao cultivation. It is not the purpose of this guide to comment on such claims. The purpose of this guide is inform wizards: those who choose a xiandao law of cultivation. Let other cultivators choose other laws. There is enough in the xiandao to achieve immortality. Content yourself with infinite life and infinite power.
Qi, Feng Shui, Five Element Theory and other technical matters
You will, of course, need to understand how qi accumulates in the environment, gathers towards certain objects and becomes a pool of magical energy that makes it easier for you to sustain your efforts.
You will need to understand how to create an auspicious (blessed) feng shui, and the causes of ominous (cursed) feng shui.
Five element theory, the sheng (creative) cycle and the ke (restraining) cycle, this is another essential tool. Note that we do not use the ke cycle in feng shui, for an environment that is limiting itself is an environment that is creating evil for its inhabitants.
The proper arrangements of furniture and relics in a ritual chamber, this is a worthy topic for examination.
It is enough, in today’s lesson, to know that these topics exist. Your first efforts will likely be poor, your later efforts will be more wise. But if you do not understand these topics at first, you will not be undone. Walls can be demolished and rebuilt with no loss of material. Those disciples who seem irredeemably useless will eventually become fertilizer for the plants, or ghosts who will remind us not to be lazy.
So long as you have a mind for your reputation and attacks by demonic forces, you can survive. And if you survive, you can learn to do better.
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