Hanged Man

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XII. Hanged Man

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The tyrant dies and his rule is over; the martyr dies and his rule begins.


The Hanged Man Arcana is the #12 Major Arcana, and is a resilient card. It usually depicts an individual hanging upside-down from a wooden beam or sometimes a tree. Although this was a traditional form of humiliating execution for traitors, the individual's expression is not one of suffering but of clarity, and they are still very clearly alive; furthermore their head is framed by a golden halo. In some depictions the individual is Judas Iscariot, in others the individual is Odin, whilst some portray Saint Peter, who in Catholic tradition was crucified upside down.

The Hanged Man is a rather circumspect card, but it is most often associated with the greater good, self-sacrifice, conviction, balance, transition, suspension between two exclusive elements, and clear reflection on one's actions. Like the Lovers, choice is an element critical to the Arcana, and like Fortune, having the patience to carefully reflect on one's actions is a virtue. Furthermore like Strength, Hanged Man is aligned with the greater good and standing firm in one's convictions. Unlike any of these however, the Hanged Man also possesses a strong element of finality. It has a choice to make, but the choice can end a journey instead of starting it; it should wait to act, but the action itself is much magnified by what is lost as well as what is gained; and finally, it tests the convictions of the bearer to the ultimate end. After all, the Hanged Man is the last Arcana before Death, and it cannot escape being suspended between the life before it and the ultimate fate ahead. Despite this, the Hanged Man is alive, and is at peace with what has gone and what will come. Simply put, the Hanged Man is at peace with something- sometimes their life- ending, but in doing so they reaffirm Death as something besides a finality. By embracing the end in the service of life, the Hanged Man claims Death as a servant of life forever, and thus overcomes it. Mythopoetically, the Hanged Man is the terminus of the querant's life on Earth- indeed the Hanged Man is the last of the 'Lesser Mysteries', that is the Arcanae from Fool to Hanged Man. Their life on earth is coming to an end, but this is not something that worries them, for they have found a greater truth.

The Hanged Man obviously then is tied to a sense of martyrdom, of embracing death for a greater cause, such as protecting others or realising one's own ideals to their fullest. That said, the Hanged Man does not necessarily have to be so drastic. For many, the card represents the ability to reflect and make sense of major tectonic shifts in one's own life. Such things close a chapter of a person's life, a type of death in itself, but ultimately the person can and must prevail, making sense of what has just happened. Often this is a journey tinged with grief, because something has been lost. The journey not only helps an individual to come to terms with that irrevocable loss, but also often grants them a sense of deep empathy and compassion for those around them; the path of the Hanged Man can make people sensitive to the suffering and needs of others, thus turning the Hanged Man into one who protects and aids others, sacrificing their own energy and time in the process. In this way, the Hanged Man can slowly be converted into a promise of better times ahead- but first, they themselves must complete the journey.

To that end, there is a sense of gentle resilience to the Hanged Man, a resilience that serves them well in resisting life's hardships, but also makes them sympathetic to those who don't possess such endurance. The Hanged Man then is willing to endure things for them, and sometimes this is the right thing to do, but the Hanged Man remains ever sensitive of the fact that just as they were strengthened by walking the journey, so others too must walk it to gain strength- the Hanged Man cannot walk it for them… But they can walk beside them.

The reversed Hanged Man, then, often depicts someone who is unable to reflect on their actions or are unable to cope with the massive shifts in their world; they feel out of place in their own lives, and are confused, lost and helpless. They might also have attempted to cope and have decided that they have finished that journey of healing, but have become unsympathetic to others in the process, feeling as though they are owed for their own sufferings and that they were not helped, so others should not be helped either. On the other hand, the Hanged Man might go too far and sacrifice themselves readily for everyone and everything, which not only stunts and smothers others, but bleeds the Hanged Man dry.

Example Inner Conflicts for the Hanged Man include the obvious one of being unsure how to cope with a massive shift in their lives, such as their parents divorcing or dying; feeling the need to help absolutely everyone and feeling exploited and overwhelmed; becoming cold and angry at others because they're too hurt to feel others' pain.

Mechanically, the Hanged Man is a powerful defensive Arcana, capable of gaining cheap access to a wide bevy of defenses and resistances; with time, the Hanged Man will probably grow to resist nearly anything.

Aptitude-wise, the Hanged Man is heavily defensive just like Strength. Toughness and Defense ensures quick growths in toughness and protection, but choosing Willpower could lead to somewhat easier access to an offensive focus and resistance to mental attack.

Arcana Qualities

Characteristic Bonus Character Aptitudes Persona Aptitudes Magic Characteristic
+10 Toughness Toughness, Defense, Willpower Defense, Resistance Willpower

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Arcana Exemplaries

Exemplary Evoker Rank 1 Evoker Rank 4 Evoker Rank 7 Evoker Rank 10
Sacrificial Nobility Each time you take 4 damage or more whilst actively protecting another person (such as through the Sacrifice and Protect Ally actions or the Taunt use of the Charm skill), you gain +1 AP to all areas for the rest of the day, which stacks to a maximum of +5. You may only gain a single bonus per action (ie. you can't gain more than +1 AP per Sacrifice etc). You gain an extra reaction which may only be spent on activating the Protect Ally, Sacrifice or Guardian actions. Furthermore, your Protect Ally now has a range of "Full Move". Instead of gaining AP from this Exemplary, you now gain a point of Unnatural Toughness, and gain it if you take 2+ points of damage. Once per day, if someone with whom you have a Social Link with is attacked, you may instantly teleport adjacent to their location and use the Protect Ally, Sacrifice or Guardian action on them. This may trigger even if you are asleep, but you appear only with whatever equipment you have, and you may not use it to go from the Waking World to the Sea of Chaos (but the reverse is fine)
Light in Dark Places For every Social Link you have who is either at (non-Persona) Critical Damage or Exhausted, you gain +5 to all tests (to a maximum of +30). Once per week, you may spend a Realisation Point. Your Social Links ignore all effects of fatigue and critical damage (except the type that would Defeat them) for a number of rounds equal to your Evoker Rank. Spending a Realisation Point on this Exemplary, along with the original effects, removes ER/2 (non-Persona) Critical Damage from all Social Links and allows them to ignore ER/2 fatigue for the rest of the day (including Stress Fatigue). The test bonus now caps at +40. Furthermore, spending a Realisation Point on this Exemplary now also removes ER/3 Critical Damage from Personae as well.
Share the Burden Once per day, you may select a character with whom you have a Social Link and select one of their stressful actions. They reduce the stress gained from that by half (rounded down), you gain all of the stress associated with the action, and you gain a non-stacking +10 bonus towards that action for the rest of the week. The bonus now stacks to +20, and you may reroll a single test in that action and take the preferred result. You only gain half the stress associated with the action. You may now select two different actions that character performed, taking only the highest stress marker from each (and still halving it as per Rank 7).

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Arcana List

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