The Hsien

We’d better run, runnin’ through the mystic night
Runnin’ through the rolling fire
Runnin’ through the burning blade
Runnin’ through the crawling snakes
Mmm, runnin’ through the midnight flame
Run until they take us away
Take us away
Take us away
We got big trouble in little China

– The Coupe De Villes, “Big Trouble in Little China”

Far from the courts of the Kithain, far from the Dreaming and the chimerical wonders they devote themselves to, mortals dream other dreams. They dream not of knights and dukes, of courtly love and chivalrous battle, but of shapechanging raccoon dogs, of playful cats who know more than they let on, of monkey kings who topple even the pillars of Heaven. They dream of the small gods of the 10,000 Things — but those small gods dream only of walking the path between Heaven and Earth once more. The Hsien are unlike the fae, the strange visitors from the West who call them cousin for reasons the Shinma do not entirely understand. They are not forgotten creatures of dreamstuff, but the functionaries of a grand celestial order, small gods of pure Chi who conduct and guide its flow through the world in order to answer the prayers of mortals and beasts alike.

Los Angeles County has 1.46 million persons of Asian descent. 1.46 million potential worshippers, many who still maintain strong ties to their homelands. 1.46 million (and counting) sources of prayers that will never be answered by the forces of the West. Only the small gods have any hope of providing answers to these prayers, thanks to the power of the sacred magical alchemy known as Wu Tan.

The Yü and the Xian Mun courts jockey for dominance over each other via proxy wars using the Tongs and Triads and Yakuza. The Wu Hsien and Tu Shen courts seek to ensure the wellbeing of their respective communities in the face of ever increasing xenophobia. The Shu Shen court hire themselves out as mercenaries to other supernaturals, eastern and western, looking for an edge. The Li Shen and the Yellow Lotus courts fight an ages old secret war that threatens to engulf all the hsien in its righteous fury. Meanwhile? The Mu Court works to hasten the oncoming of the Sixth Age, and render the petty dramas of all the other courts meaningless.

Hsien are divided into ten kwannon-jin, types of hsien which determine their nature and elemental affinity. The following groups are members of the hsien:

The five noble Kamuii are aligned with and rule over the five elements:

  • Chu-ih-yu (Metal)
  • Chu Jung (Fire)
  • Hou-chi (Wood)
  • Komuko (Earth)
  • Suijen (Water)

The five commoner Hirayanu each transform into a certain type of animal and hold domain over nature:

  • Fu Hsi (snakes)
  • Hanumen (monkeys)
  • Heng Po (fish, particularly carp or catfish)
  • Nyan (cats)
  • Tanuki (raccoon dogs)