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Ki (pronounced "kee", meaning "internal energy"[1]), also called inner power or inner energy, was a mystical energy of the body that could be used to fuel various powers by its practitioners. It was commonly used in Kara-Tur.[2][3][4] Many monastic traditions knew it as ki, but other names were possible.[5]

Nature of KiEdit

Ki was an internal energy of one's body,.[2][4] described as either spiritual energy[6] or the energy of life.[7] It was a subtle energy, but it could be used to perform incredible feats.[8] by pushing the body to and beyond its physical limits.[6][5] Mastery of ki gave one power over one's own body and over the bodies of others.[5]

Ki has been variously considered to be similar to but distinct from the mental energy utilized in psionics,[6] to be a form of psionic energy itself or a magical energy that worked with psionics,[9][note 1] and finally as a wholly magical energy. Of the magic that suffused the multiverse, ki was the element that flowed through living bodies. Its application created magical effects.[5] It was also theorized that the martial adepts of the Sublime Way drew on the power of ki and their own souls, but this was unproven.[7]

TrainingEdit

The use of ki was aided significantly by intense training of the mind and self-contemplation. With this, a practitioner could focus their ki by concentrating on their breathing and directing their bodily energy to produce a specific ki power.[2][4] A state of total calm and utter serenity enabled amazing feats of ki.[10]

The Do Jang of Won Kwang, a military academy in Koryo, taught its students techniques for enhancing and focusing ki. Students regularly spent hours each day working to focus their ki.[11] Elsewhere, kensei honed their ki through mastering a particular weapon.[2][12]

Ki PowersEdit

At its most basic, a bushi or samurai could give a fierce "kiai", a ki shout that boosted their fighting ability or strength, while a kensei could make a devastating attack against one or many foes.[2][4][13][12] A sohei could focus ki to fight in a fanatic frenzy, even using their ki to sustain their lives as they fought to or even past the point of death.[14][15] Even the low yakuza could use ki to sense and anticipate a foe's action and narrowly evade it.[16]

Focused ki enabled a practitioner to achieve great acts of endurance. It was said they could ignore the touch of hot coals or the bite of chill wind, live without food and drink for three times longer than normal, live in a harsh desert, and survive any catastrophe.[11] Some martial artists could channel inner power to make their bodies as light as a feather, and so leap to great heights and distances, and even change direction midair.[17] Others could channel inner energy into their hands and fingers, so that even a gentle push could deliver a great impact, even without touching at all. [18][19] Similarly, monks could empower their unarmed strikes with ki, to strike with the force of magical, lawful, or even adamantine weapons.,[8] or they could use ki to achieve amazing speed and strength.[5] In an iaijutsu duel, samurai faced off, collected their ki, and unleashed it to draw their weapon and attack with shocking speed and force all in one graceful action.[20]

In more advanced applications of ki, a monk or shukenja could resist the impact or harm of magic or other attack or heal an injury.,[3] Meanwhile, a ninja could hold their breath for long periods, walk on water, disappear from view, and even pass through walls by slipping into the Ethereal Plane.[21][22][23] A wu jen could focus ki to improve reactions and even summon considerable magical energy with which to cast a spell.[24][25]

However, ki was a finite resource: a practitioner might have limited uses a day or not be able to use their greatest ki powers if they had already used their lesser ki powers that day.[2][3][21][4][23] The greatest ki powers exhausted one's inner strength.[4] A nin-chu-ju-gaki, a starving spirit, drained the key attribute of its victims, which blocked their use of ki until they recovered.[26] Some special strikes could disrupt the flow of ki in a foe.[5]

PractitionersEdit

Harnessing the power of ki energy was vital for many adventurers in the orient.[12] The following paths were known for their use of ki powers, to a greater or lesser extent:

Soft martial arts styles used inner power to provide energy and overcome an opponent and were usually defensively minded.[27] Some martial arts made particular use of ki:

  • The Northern Fist School "read" an opponent's ki in order to make stunning or killing attacks at weak body parts and acupressure points.[19]
  • The Southern Star School believed ki to be as dangerous as a physical attack and thus concentrated ki beyond the point of impact, permitting them to strike a target without touching it.[19]
  • Tae kwon do taught at the Do Jang of Won Kwang employed focused ki for great endurance.[11]

SpellsEdit

The aiming at the target spell for wu jen combined ki power, magic, and meditation. With precise breathing exercises and clearing and calming the mind, the spell was cast. It permitted the wu jen to perform other actions, even cast aiming at the target, without breaking concentration on an existing spell.[28]

ItemsEdit

Channeling ki could be aided by the use of a "ki focus", typically an item studied or used during meditation or training. This could be as a simple as a practice weapon, prayer beads, a training manual, or scroll of secret knowledge that the individual practitioner was attuned to. Some could themselves be enchanted items.[9]

Of the magical cards of the Edu'sascar, "Ki", the symbol of the Power Within, could be used by a monk or shukenja to boost the ki powers of a congregation for a brief time.[29]

An opal warfu stone could double one's ki power.[30]

Notable Ki UsersEdit

Some individuals were known to be especially strong in ki:

AppendixEdit

NotesEdit

  1. During the development of the Monk class for 4th-edition D&D, as discussed in "Design & Development: The Monk" in Dragon #375, the ki power source was changed to a psionic power source. However, the finished Monk class in Player's Handbook 3 uses a "ki focus" as an implement. Pages 62 and 63 state monks "channel their psionic energy through an item called a ki focus", but page 203 says "A ki focus is an implement that certain classes use as a focus for their inner magical energy, known as their ki." This may be a holdover from the ki-using Monk, but it is ambiguous as to whether ki is psionic or magical energy.

External LinksEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. James Wyatt (October 2001). Oriental Adventures (3rd edition). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 250. ISBN 0-7869-2015-7.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Gary Gygax, David Cook, and François Marcela-Froideval (1985). Oriental Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 16,17. ISBN 0-8803-8099-3.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Gary Gygax, David Cook, and François Marcela-Froideval (1985). Oriental Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 18,23. ISBN 0-8803-8099-3.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 Gary Gygax, David Cook, and François Marcela-Froideval (1985). Oriental Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 22. ISBN 0-8803-8099-3.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 Mike Mearls, Jeremy Crawford (2014). Player's Handbook 5th edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 76. ISBN 978-0-7869-6560-1.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Bruce R. Cordell (April 2004). Expanded Psionics Handbook. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 40. ISBN 0-7869-3301-1.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Richard Baker, Frank Brunner, Matthew Sernett (August 2006). Tome of Battle: The Book of Nine Swords. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 5. ISBN 0-7869-3922-2.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, Skip Williams (July 2003). Player's Handbook 3.5 edition. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 39–41. ISBN 0-7869-2886-7.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Mike Mearls, Bruce Cordell, Robin Heinsoo, and Robert J. Schwalb (March 2010). Player's Handbook 3. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 62–63,203. ISBN 978-0-7869-5390-5.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 35. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 120. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 James Wyatt (October 2001). Oriental Adventures (3rd edition). (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 53–54. ISBN 0-7869-2015-7.
  13. James Wyatt (October 2001). Oriental Adventures (3rd edition). (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 22,63–64. ISBN 0-7869-2015-7.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Gary Gygax, David Cook, and François Marcela-Froideval (1985). Oriental Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 24. ISBN 0-8803-8099-3.
  15. James Wyatt (October 2001). Oriental Adventures (3rd edition). (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 28–29. ISBN 0-7869-2015-7.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Gary Gygax, David Cook, and François Marcela-Froideval (1985). Oriental Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 27. ISBN 0-8803-8099-3.
  17. Gary Gygax, David Cook, and François Marcela-Froideval (1985). Oriental Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 103. ISBN 0-8803-8099-3.
  18. Gary Gygax, David Cook, and François Marcela-Froideval (1985). Oriental Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 104. ISBN 0-8803-8099-3.
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 21. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  20. James Wyatt (October 2001). Oriental Adventures (3rd edition). (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 41,58,81–82. ISBN 0-7869-2015-7.
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Gary Gygax, David Cook, and François Marcela-Froideval (1985). Oriental Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 21. ISBN 0-8803-8099-3.
  22. James Wyatt (October 2001). Oriental Adventures (3rd edition). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 43. ISBN 0-7869-2015-7.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Jesse Decker (January 2005). Complete Adventurer. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 6–9. ISBN ISBN 0-7869-3651-7.
  24. 24.0 24.1 Gary Gygax, David Cook, and François Marcela-Froideval (1985). Oriental Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 25–26. ISBN 0-8803-8099-3.
  25. James Wyatt (October 2001). Oriental Adventures (3rd edition). (Wizards of the Coast), p. 31. ISBN 0-7869-2015-7.
  26. Jon Pickens and others (1986). Night of the Seven Swords. (TSR, Inc), p. 9. ISBN 0-88038-327-5.
  27. Gary Gygax, David Cook, and François Marcela-Froideval (1985). Oriental Adventures. (TSR, Inc), pp. 101–102. ISBN 0-8803-8099-3.
  28. Gary Gygax, David Cook, and François Marcela-Froideval (1985). Oriental Adventures. (TSR, Inc), p. 87. ISBN 0-8803-8099-3.
  29. Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 63. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  30. Mike Pondsmith, Jay Batista, Rick Swan, John Nephew, Deborah Christian (1988). Kara-Tur: The Eastern Realms (Volume I). (TSR, Inc), p. 64. ISBN 0-88038-608-8.
  31. Curtis Smith and Rick Swan (1990). Ronin Challenge. (TSR, Inc), p. 14. ISBN 0-88038-749-1.

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