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July 30, 2009, 11:34 am

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Master Kenji , disiple of a million masters


"To truly be wise, one must learn from all life."

(A sage and wise man for any oriental fantasy or modern day campaign)

A small oriental man standing barely 5’2" His simple robes, shaved head and quiet demeanor convey to others he is but a lowly monk of some long forgotten order.

Despite being nearly 80 years of age his well toned physique and graceful movements give him the appearance and poise of one many years younger.


One evening as master Kenji meditated near a the calm river outside Quiela village a young monk from the near by monastery walked over and set down beside him, having heard the rumors he was a man who had a million masters before becoming a master himself. "Master Kenji, who were your masters?"

Turning to look at the young monk Master Kenji smiled patiently, the last rays of the setting sun twinkling in his eyes. "I had millions of masters dating back to when I was but a boy. If I just relate their names it will take months, and it is too late in the day."

"I see Master Kenji." The young boy replied, giving him a downcast look, the disappointment strikingly clear.

"But my first three masters I will certainly tell you about.
One was a thief. Once as a young boy I wandered too far from the monastery I was being raised at and got lost in the desert. When I reached a village much like this one it was very late, everything was closed.

But at last I found one woman who was trying to cut a hole in the wall of a tent. I asked her where I could stay and she said "At this time of night it will be difficult, but you can say with me - if you can stay with a thief." The woman was so beautiful and kind I stayed for 5 years!

Each night she would say to me, "Now I am going to my work. You practice what I have taught you, you rest, you pray." When she came back I would ask "Could you get anything?" Many a night she would say, "Not tonight. But tomorrow I will try again, Goddess willing." She was never in a state of hopelessness, she was always happy.

When I was traveling for years on end the struggles of life felt overwhelming, many times the moment came when I was so desperate, so hopeless, that I thought to stop all this nonsense and give up becoming a maser of knowledge. Suddenly I would remember the thief who would say every night, "Goddess willing, tomorrow it is going to happen."

My second master was a dog. I was going to the river, thirsty and a dog came. He was also thirsty. He looked into
the river, he saw another dog there—his own image—and became afraid.

He would bark and run away, but his thirst was so much that he would come back. Finally, despite his fear, he just jumped into the water, and the image disappeared. I knew that a message had come to me from the Goddess: One has venture forth in spite of all fears.

My third master was a small child. I entered a town and a child was carrying a lit candle. He was going to the mosque to put the candle there. I asked the boy, "Have you lit the
candle yourself?"

He said, "Yes sir." I asked, "There was a moment when the candle was unlit, then there was a moment when the candle was lit. Can you show me the source from which the light came?" The boy laughed, blew out the candle, and said, "Now you have seen the light going. Where has it gone? You will tell me!"

My ego was shattered, my whole knowledge was shattered.
At that moment I felt my own stupidity. From then on I dropped all pretense of being wise."

Seeing the look on the boys face Master Kenji gave him a tired smile. "Yes it is true that I had a million masters. I accepted the whole of existence as my master. My disciple hood was a greater involvement than yours is.

I learned from the clouds, the trees. I accepted all of creation as my master. I had no one master because I had millions of masters I learned from every possible source. To become a disciple one must learn while seeking the path to true knowledge.

What does it mean to be a disciple? It means to be able to learn. To be available to learn, to be vulnerable to
existence. By having my first three masters I started learning to learn.

Life is a swimming pool where you can learn how to swim. Once you have learned, all the oceans are yours."

Special Equipment
Simple traveling robes and small backpack with cooking implements and personal hygiene items along with a few herbs.

Also a small knife and 5’ walking stick, hand carved with thousands tiny pictures of animals scenery, people, and trees, one for every master of worth Kenji has been a disciple to.

Roleplaying Notes

In your youth you traveled the world and learned all you could from everything around you. Now in your old age you seek to impart some of your wisdom to those in need.

Smile that knowing smile as if all of life’s answers are plain to see, and treat everyone as if they are small slow witted children, always being polite and reassuring to them. Gently guide them in the direction of the solution to their problems, often in a way that allows them to discover the solution on their own.

Your age and experience have allowed you master many styles of fighting, most of them based off of the elements and animals. Those who think you are an easy mark for banditry or someone to take their frustrations out on must learn the error of their ways. Pain can be a great teacher, and you are happy to make them its disciple if they prove to be in need.

Plot Hooks

The chars can easily come upon Master Kenji meditating or fishing near a small stream, or walking quietly in the woods. Provided they are polite to him he may offer to impart some of his knowledge on a given subject to them over time. From mystic martial art techniques, and forgotten history, to ancient alchemical arts of healing; Master Kenji knows at least a little of everything. Of course what the characters may have to go through to prove themselves worthy in the eyes of Kenji is another matter entirely.

Is the player group trapped without hope? Surrounded by overwhelming numbers of bandits or foul monsters ready to attack? Master Kenji is just the person to show up in time! Often calmly wandering into the middle of the situation with polite almost detached interest.

After taking a few moments to appraise the situation, Kenji is likely to have an effective solution; be it a well placed smoke bomb or drawing the clan symbol of the bandits long lost founder in the dirt.

After the rescue Kenji may ask the grateful characters to perform a small, (or monumental) task for him. Or, if he finds the group of interest, he may travel with them (likely without even asking permission)to learn what he can by becoming their disciple for a time.

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Comments ( 6 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

December 22, 2008, 17:46
/bump to keep Kenji from fading into the unknown. (50 views and no votes or comments?)
Voted Pieh
December 22, 2008, 22:08
Interesting idea and a neat little story. I was hoping for something a bit more meaty when I read the title, but here I find something to use as either a teacher of anything or a PC-ass-saver. His motivation is there, but it's so wide and varied that it feels like a safety net. His stereotypical appearance doesn't help much either. In my opinion, it's not bad but it needs some flair.
Voted Scrasamax
December 22, 2008, 22:40
Master Kenji is wise, but in a sort of homogenous Standard Asian Sensei fashion. I like him, even though he is rather archtypical
Voted Murometz
December 22, 2008, 23:41
Hmm, i don't know. He is just, Wise Asian Sensei. This one is ok, the fluff text and all, but just ok for me. Needs something I would say. Not sure what. Something to differentiate him from the standard.
Voted manfred
December 25, 2008, 14:34
Seconding Murometz, I would also end the story with the master learning something from the young monk. That would seem appropriate. :)
Voted valadaar
December 27, 2008, 19:31
A good idea that could be built into something better. He is willing to learn from everything, having been humbled. What else is he like?


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