“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”
-Sun Tzu, The Art of War
Affinity Spheres: Spirit, Forces, Matter, Life
Common Paradigms: Divine Order and Earthly Chaos, Bring Back the Golden Age
The Reckoning was a harrowing time for the Dragon Wizards. With their power base in mainland China steadily eroded since the Communist revolution, the Craft’s many enemies came crawling out of the woodwork to humble the Sages of Heaven. The Five Elemental Dragons sought to cement their hold on the the Communist government by purging the Wu Lung’s influence, seizing their nodes, and cutting off their horizon realms from Earth, trapping the greatest Sages in their palace-realms. The Wu Keng nephandic sect took advantage of the chaos to move against the Dragon Wizards, killing or corrupting their students and plundering their secrets. For a time, it seemed as if this most august and eminent of Crafts was destined to go extinct.
But dragons do not die easily. As the Wu Lung fought for their survival, they made difficult decisions and costly sacrifices that enabled them to fight back. The shared history of the Wu Lung and the Akashayana is one of near-constant conflict, but several influential Shifu and their students made the decision to join their hated rivals in the Akashic Shi-Ren, enabling them to fight back against the Five Elemental Dragons in China and force a stalemate. The embattled Wu Lung of Hong Kong chose to ally themselves with the Order of Hermes as House Hong Lei, an alliance which enabled them to turn the tables and crush the Wu Keng. These sacrifices cost the Wu Lung dearly, but enabled the Great Sages Under Heaven to survive. Other choices were made that required great internal turmoil, but enabled the craft to reinvigorate itself; these included the admission of women to the Craft as well as the admission of those of impure Chinese blood, such as Mongols and Koreans. While to outsiders the Wu Lung still appear hidebound and exclusive, this Craft is more open than it has ever been before.
After the Reckoning, the Wu Lung have found new purpose. During their age of stagnation the traditions they clung to had become empty mummery, rituals that brought no comfort and were devoid of all meaning. The Wu Lung have rediscovered the sincerity of their practice, as the Five Elemental Dragons would try to shrive China – nay, all of Asia – of its history, the Wan Kuei seek to turn the night into a place of terror, and the Yama Kings seek to draw billions of people into an everlasting Hell. Now that the Celestial Gardens of Heaven seem further away than ever, the Wu Lung know their duties as sages and intercessors are more necessary than ever.
When the Ahl-I-Batin approached the Wu Lung about joining the Disparate Alliance, the Dragon Wizards were dubious. A dragon is never a humble beast, and to the Wu Lung it seemed like the Alliance was nothing more than a squabbling mass of low magicians and reckless children. The shrewd Batini noted that children cannot learn without wise teachers, and so an agreement was struck. There are some Wu Lung who believe that their membership in the Alliance is temporary, until they have used it to achieve their own ends, including a massive collection of gold and treasure for some nebulous purpose – but not everyone agrees. As Confucius said, “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.” After all, the Order of Hermes built an alliance of willworkers that has endured for five hundred years; perhaps the Wu Lung, rich with the wisdom of Heaven, can be the keystone of a better alliance that will become as timeless as China itself?
- Tiger School: The Tiger School is the faction of the Wu Lung responsible for defending the Craft’s places of power and august personages, as well as planning and carrying out the Dragon Wizards’ military strategies against their enemies. The Tiger School is led by the Hu Kuei Tsu Wu, AKA the “Tiger Lord Wizard,” the Craft’s supreme general and heir apparent to the throne of the Dragon Emperor. Members of the Tiger School are trained to prioritize martial discipline, particularly the mastery of Kuei Lung Chuan Gung Fu. In their mundane lives they often assume careers in the military, police, private security, or other arenas where their formidable combat skills can be put to good use. The Tiger School was badly depleted during the Reckoning, and over the past two decades they have rebuilt themselves as a more efficient and modern fighting force, as adept with guns and drones as they are with martial arts and combat magick. The Tiger School favors the sphere of Forces.
- Common paradigms: Divine Order and Earthly Chaos, Bring Back the Golden Age
- Common practices: High Ritual Magick, Martial Arts
- Common instruments:
- Dragon School: The Dragon School is responsible for the socio-political leadership of the Wu Lung. It is led by the T’ien K’ung te Huan Ti Wu Lung or “Heavenly Emperor of the Dragon Wizards,” sometimes informally shortened to the “Dragon Emperor,” and his leadership of the school makes it the pre-eminent faction of the Wu Lung. The Dragon School establishes the standard of the traditions and rituals of the Wu Lung, sets its political strategies, and maintains its complex interactions with the spirit world. The Dragon School has been forced to endure the most change out of all the schools of the Wu Lung – for a craft that prides itself on maintaining its ancient traditions, the shifu of the Dragon School were forced to make difficult decisions without the consultation of their superiors during the Reckoning, including expanding their recruitment prospects to women, mixed-blood Chinese, and making alliances with other groups of Mages. The recent return of the Dragon Emperor from the Umbra has led to the re-institution of the traditional hierarchy of command, though individual Shifu now have more authority to act on their own recognizance. Dragon Sages will typically pursue careers in politics, business, education, and other areas that capitalize on their acumen.
- Common Paradigms: Divine Order and Earthly Chaos, Bring Back the Golden Age
- Common Practices: High Ritual Magick
- Common Instruments:
- Phoenix School: The Phoenix School is responsible for maintaining the logistical infrastructure of the Wu Lung including distributing its tass and maintaining its temples, in addition to providing vital support such as healers and alchemists. The Phoenix School answers to the Feng Huang Hou Wu, the “Phoenix Empress Wizard”, or informally the “Phoenix Empress,” who for millennia was the only female member of the Wu Lung. On paper this gives the Phoenix School pre-eminence over the Tiger School, though for most of the Craft’s history this was ignored in practice. During the Reckoning the Phoenix School returned to its rightful place of prominence, as the Phoenix Empress assumed supreme leadership of the Craft in the absence of the Dragon Emperor, and Phoenix Sages undertook great personal risks to save Wu Lung knowledge and artifacts from the Five Elemental Dragons and the Wu Keng nephandi. Phoenix Sages often pursue careers in science, medicine, and other fields where their hands-on approach to knowledge is put to good use. They favor the spheres of Life or Matter.
- Common Paradigms: Divine Order and Earthly Chaos, Bring Back the Golden Age
- Common Practices: Alchemy, High Ritual Magick, Medicine Work
- Common Instruments:
Even after the Empress’s reformation, the Wu Lung remain intensely regimented and bureaucratic, with each Dragon Wizard responsible for their immediate subordinates and answering to their immediate superiors. Venturing outside of this bureaucratic structure is more permissible than it was in the past, but a Dragon Wizard who goes over their superior’s head had better have a damn good reason for risking such a loss of face. This strictness makes the Wu Lung highly organized, if still a bit stodgy. Though the Craft has modernized, it remains highly selective, accepting only those they view as being of Chinese blood, such as Mongolians and Koreans, and heavily favoring those of pureblood Chinese descent. In the Americas, where many Chinese immigrants intermarried with Europeans more than a century ago, this relaxed blood quantum can make things… interesting. Consider the below a simplified version of the Wu Lung’s hierarchy, with lots of gradients between pips of status.
Wu Lung titles have often been given in Cantonese. Given their formal style and their old affinity for the Imperial court, they’re much more likely to use Mandarin as their Lingua Franca.
Status 0: Fǔ yè . “Initiate” or “Acolyte”. Unawakened students and sorcerers.
Status 1: Xuéshēng. “Student.” Those who have awakened but are still in the formative stages of instruction.
Status 2: Ch’uang Shih. “Senior Student.” Students who have advanced further in their studies, with accordant privleges and duties.
Status 3: Lǎoshǒu. “Veteran” or “Adept.” Wu Lung whose education is complete.
Status 4: Shifu. “Teacher” or “Master.” Shifu have additional responsibilities, including training students as part of their respective schools.
Status 5: Lóng dàshī. The highest-ranking Shifu, at the upmost levels of the Craft these masters attend the courts of the Dragon Emperor and Phoenix Empress and hand down their orders.
Kuei Lung Chuan Gung Fu:
The Wu Lung practice a unique martial art called Dragon Spirit Kung Fu (or for its full and formal Chinese title, see above). Per Mage: the Ascension 20th Anniversary Ed. pg. 427, studying this martial art is represented by taking a Kuei Lung Chuan specialty in the Martial Arts ability. It may also be taken as a specialty in Melee and Athletics.
While Dragon Spirit Kung Fu is the province of the Tiger School and all Tiger Sages are expected to pursue mastery of it, any Wu Lung is free to study it, and any Wu Lung may list it as an Instrument. While the Wu Lung could theoretically teach it to an outsider, they have not yet elected to do so.
Hermetics of House Hong Lei and the Wu Lung of the Akashayana may also learn Kuei Lung Chuan – the Akashic Wu Lung remain stubborn hold-outs, preferring this style to Do. The primary philosophical difference between the Wu Lung and the Akashayana regarding martial arts is that the Wu Lung see Kuei Lung Chuan as just one part of their magickal practice – an important part, but only part, whereas Do forms the core of the Akashic way and is at the heart of most of the Magick the Akashayana does. While this means that Kuei Lung Chuan does not confer the same benefits as Do, it is also easier to learn and does not atrophy without constant, reinforced practice the way that Do does.
Dragon Spirit Kung Fu is a hard-style martial art. Philosophically, it encourages a passionate approach to life and combat. The following martial arts maneuvers are emphasized by this style and any Wu Lung who practices it will acquire at least two of these maneuvers, and most have more: Death Strike, Dragon Tail Sweep, Hard Strike, Snake Step, Thunder Kick, and Withering Grasp. However, any of the Martial Arts maneuvers listed beginning on page 424 of Mage: the Ascension may be taken by a user of Dragon Spirit style.