Death

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XIII. Death

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Death destroys a man; the idea of death saves him.

Overview

The Death Arcana is the #13 Major Arcana, and is a card of great mystery. It usually depicts a personification of death, such as the grim reaper or a skeleton with a scythe. Surrounding the skeleton are dead- dead adults, dead children, dead commoners, dead kings, dead priests and bishops. None are exempt from the reaper, and pale death beats equally at the poor man's gate and at the palaces of kings. In some decks, it has no name.

Death is often associated with foreboding and doom, but more honestly it is associated with great change, metamorphosis, regeneration, awakening, the mystery of the veiled world, great self-awareness and, perhaps unusually, life. Thus Death has connections with many previous Arcanae- it has the same connection to mystery as the Priestess, but it also is highly aware of changed like Fortune. In reality, however, Death is very much its own Arcana, drawing inspiration from - yet also informing- all that come before it. All in all, Death deals with a theme that all Arcanae touch upon, but Death focuses on it: that theme is metamorphosis, the transformation of the individual as opposed to how they transform the world. In Death, the individual is transformed from a caterpillar into a butterfly. Mythopoetically, Death is an unusual Arcana, in that it acts as the 'hinge' of the tarot. It is considered to be the 'middle' of the tarot symbolically. In fact the Arcanae that precede Death are known as the 'Lesser Mysteries', whilst the Arcanae that follow Death are known as the 'Greater Mysteries'. To that end, the Arcanae shift from a focus on the physical world to a greater, more divine and psychic one. The individual has died and left the mundane behind: now the glory of the world of mystery is revealed to them.

Death, then, is strongly associated with how the individual's life changes. Indeed one of the ironies of Death is that it is an Arcana primarily concerned with life- in this theme, Death is seen as just a transitory stage, nothing to be afraid of and certainly nothing worth escaping from: Death is a part of life, but more than that it is necessary for life. Death exists to serve life, not the other way round. The Death Arcana encourages people to develop a sense of self-awareness in their own lives, perhaps by reminding them of just how fragile and precious that life can be. It reminds people that they must take an active role in their own lives if they are to mean something, and indeed challenges people to find their own meaning to life. Those who reap death's bounties manifest a force of will that is startling to behold, as they have embraced their own life and forged meaning for it- such a thing is incredibly powerful, and brushed aside by very little. Thus Death, even though it signifies the end of a life, actually is part of the reason that life is so important. To that end, the Death Arcana is highly aware of its own life, its goals and the beauty of life in others as well. The Death Arcana is not destructive, and despite seeming admittedly grim and intimidating, is actually benevolent in its own way.

This sort of abstract thought is difficult for many people to embody or understand, and thus it can manifest in many ways. Ultimately, however, the Death Arcana is about inspiring people to find meaning in their lives and to bear witness to their own transformation. As they become sensitive to their idealised self, they naturally change to reach it. Of course, all the Arcana focus on the struggle to reach the idealised self, so how does Death set itself apart? Death challenges the individual, but so do all the Arcanae; Death is about change, but so are they. The answer is not concrete, but at its heart, Death, more than any other Arcana, stresses that you are important, that you mean something, and that you should never, ever forget how precious that is. Death does not really represent a feature of an individual's personality but rather manifests as a massive internal struggle, ongoing, to truly realise that promise of meaning.

Considering how nebulous Death can be, a reversed Death can be difficult to pin down. Nonetheless, a reversed Death might forget how precious life is, and embrace 'death' as an ideal greater than life. They might become apathetic or uncaring, resigning themselves to happenstance. Alternatively, a reversed Death is someone who struggles to find meaning in their life, or someone who struggles to really take control and enact transformation in their lives- they can feel stagnant, stuck in a rut, like their life is already over. Alternatively they might just be stunningly self-oblivious and unable to cultivate any sense of self-awareness. All told, however, the most reversed Death can be is to become truly destructive.

Example Inner Conflicts for Death include struggling with apathy and meaninglessness after an event that seems to have robbed a person of their meaning; struggling with the idea that they might ever make something out of their lives; someone who has 'changed' but in a way that is false to who they truly are; or trying to change but constantly failing to achieve the right motivation.

Mechanically, Death is a powerful Arcana that focuses on Curse spells- since Curse is capable of debilitating effects, its use can quickly change the course of a battle. Otherwise, Death draws from various disciplines.

Aptitude-wise, Death excels at Willpower, with Willpower and Resolution ensuring a powerful focus in buying Willpower abilities and potentially some leadership ones. Alternatively Death can also take Intelligence, which gives it a somewhat broader skill set.

Arcana Qualities

Characteristic Bonus Aptitudes Magic Characteristic
+10 Willpower Intelligence, Willpower, Resolution Willpower

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Arcana Exemplary

Exemplary Base Effect Rank 4 Improvement Rank 7 Improvement Rank 10 Improvement
Metamorphosis Every time you sacrifice a Persona, you lose 5 Stress and regain 5 Realisation. Katabasis: You suffer one less point of fatigue when your Persona is defeated, to a minimum of 0. Furthermore, the first time each day that your Persona is defeated, you instantly gain Regeneration, Spirit Regeneration and Exertion Regeneration, all at 2, for a number of rounds equal to the defeated Persona's Grade. Confidants now benefit from Metamorphosis's base effect. Furthermore, after taking part in an All Out Attack that defeats all Shadows, you may demand a special benefit from them: select one of the defeated Shadows. You now gain a copy of a Persona of the same Arcana as the Shadow, with a Grade equal or lower to the Shadow's Grade. When Katabasis triggers, you gain the Superior Action trait for the duration.

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Arcana List

Grade One: Daena

The Zoroastrian psychopomp. She takes the noble to the House of Song and the evil to the House of Lies. To those with good hearts, she appears as a beautiful maiden, but to those with evil hearts she appears wicked and evil herself.
Details
Grade: 1 Name: Wounds:
Elemental Attributes
Melee Missile Fire Ice Elec Wind Psi Nuke Bless Curse
Traits, Knacks, Item
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Grade Two: Wuluwait

A psychopomp from the Arnhem Land people. He ferries the dead to Purelko, the afterlife, but he also works with Bunbulama to create the rains.
Details
Grade: 2 Name: Wounds:
Elemental Attributes
Melee Missile Fire Ice Elec Wind Psi Nuke Bless Curse
Traits, Knacks, Item
Traits: Knacks: Item:
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Grade Three: Pale Rider

The fourth and final Horseman of the Apocalypse. He is Death, and he brings with him a scythe, and visits everyone equally, whether they be slave, peasant, or emperor.
Details
Grade: 3 Name: Wounds:
Elemental Attributes
Melee Missile Fire Ice Elec Wind Psi Nuke Bless Curse
Traits, Knacks, Item
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Grade Four: Nga

The God of the Dead of the Siberian Nenets people. He is the god of death and the underworld and one of two demiurges, but when the world began to collapse in on itself, Nga lifted up his hand and held up the sky.
Details
Grade: 4 Name: Wounds:
Elemental Attributes
Melee Missile Fire Ice Elec Wind Psi Nuke Bless Curse
Traits, Knacks, Item
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Grade Five: Tarakeshvara

A psychopomp in Hindu belief. He sings chants and guides souls to moksha, the freedom from being reborn. He is actually a form of Shiva, and the mantras he sings are taught to him by Parvati.
Details
Grade: 5 Name: Wounds:
Elemental Attributes
Melee Missile Fire Ice Elec Wind Psi Nuke Bless Curse
Traits, Knacks, Item
Traits: Knacks: Item:
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Grade Six: Mictlāntēcutli

The God of the Underworld in Aztec thought. He is adorned with skeletons and skulls, and tears the dead apart on entry into his world. However, in Aztec thought, skeletons are seen as a symbol of fertility, and so he is also associated with regeneration.
Details
Grade: 6 Name: Wounds:
Elemental Attributes
Melee Missile Fire Ice Elec Wind Psi Nuke Bless Curse
Traits, Knacks, Item
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Grade Seven: Baron Samedi

A stylish loa from Haitian Vodou. He resembles a skeleton wearing a top hat, a long tail coat, dark glasses and cotton in his nostrils. He is lewd and enjoys rum and cigars. He is the loa of the dead, and digs the grave of the dead to take them to the underworld. He is also a healer, who can heal any disease, and can prevent anyone from dying by refusing to dig their grave.
Details
Grade: 7 Name: Wounds:
Elemental Attributes
Melee Missile Fire Ice Elec Wind Psi Nuke Bless Curse
Traits, Knacks, Item
Traits: Knacks: Item:
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Grade Eight: Persephone

The Queen of the Greek Underworld. She resides in death for six months of the year, and is alive for six months. When she's alive, the plants grow and blossom, but wilt after she leaves. She represents the coming and going of summer in the form of death.
Details
Grade: 8 Name: Wounds:
Elemental Attributes
Melee Missile Fire Ice Elec Wind Psi Nuke Bless Curse
Traits, Knacks, Item
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Grade Nine: Azrael

The Angel of Death in Abrahamic thought, especially Islam. He peacefully takes the souls from the good and painfully from the bad, and records everyone's life in a massive book. His body is covered in eyes, one for every human being who has lived or who will ever live, and each time a human dies, their eye closes.
Details
Grade: 9 Name: Wounds:
Elemental Attributes
Melee Missile Fire Ice Elec Wind Psi Nuke Bless Curse
Traits, Knacks, Item
Traits: Knacks: Item:
Powers
Spells: Arts: Passives:

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Grade Ten: Saoshyant

The third and final saviour in Zoroastrian belief. He is the herald of the Frashokereti, the final fate of the world. He will raise the dead, defeat evil and destroy the world, but will return the essence of the earth to the perfection it once was. Humanity will be unified as shining divine entities, unified in one purpose and one nation with God.
Details
Grade: 10 Name: Wounds:
Elemental Attributes
Melee Missile Fire Ice Elec Wind Psi Nuke Bless Curse
Traits, Knacks, Item
Traits: Knacks: Item:
Powers
Spells: Arts: Passives:

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