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In the common parlance of the Hsien, Shui Tan is Water Alchemy: a branch of Wu Tan that deals with the element of water and its correspondences.



The Shui Fu, or Ministry of Water, is the most powerful, subtle, but inefficient force in the Middle Kingdom. Masters of Water are dreaded and venerated but most serve out of fear.

Water is one of the most powerful elements. It encompasses all things liquid and gaseous: clouds, methane, water, blood, etc... Water is inherently vital yet dangerous and deceptive. It also controls winds and storms, but not lightning.

Water Soul

The Water Soul encompasses a person's faith in others and in the powers of the universe. It also corresponds to fidelity and confidence and its attributes are Manipulation and Stamina. Capitalists, Crime Lords, and those who love to be the objects of loyalty and power have great water souls as do the truly faithful.

Communing with the Water Soul helps gauge a person's loyalty, confidence, etc... Diminishing that soul can destroy confidence in self and others or make one more likely to be unfaithful. Enlarging the water soul makes your followers ever more loyal to you or your cause.


  • Shui Tan.png
    Virtue - Greater Yin
  • Constructive Cohorts - Metal and Wood
  • Adversary - Earth
  • Yin Attribute - Stamina
  • Yang Attribute - Manipulation


  • Color - Black
  • Direction - North
  • Dzi Dzat - Images of water; origami cups and balloons.
  • Festivals - Dragon boat festivals or those dedicated to the Dragons; Fifth Moon, Sixth Moon, Seventh Moon, Ninth Moon, Tenth Moon
  • Kwannon-jin - The Suijen and Heng Po gain an automatic Fortune when using Shui Tan
  • Mu-jen - Submerging the figures is effective
  • Poetry - Complex rhyme schemes or religious poems are effective
  • Season - Winter
  • Sense - Taste
  • Skills - Swimming, Politics, Subterfuge, Stealth, Herbalism, Boating, Persuasion, etc...

I Chih

For more information on I Chih systems, see the page Wu Tan.

Level 1: The Prodigal Tongue

  • Commune with Water - All physical elements have limits when it comes to communication. Water could speak about the taste of someone swimming in them or their level of self-confidence or whether they abandoned the other person in the water with them to drown because they were disloyal. Blood may be a better source of information and be able to tell a Water Alchemist the pollutants in the examined blood stream by their taste. As long as the blood is liquid, even a crime scene spill could give interesting information about who committed a crime.
  • Read Water Soul - See above for the information that could come from this.
  • Speak With Jimu-Tenno - With this I Chih the alchemist can speak to Shui Shen. The difficulty is finding the spirit to speak with as they must be on this side of the Wall or the Hsien must be able to cross over.

Level 2: Command Elemental Vassal

  • Summon/Dispel Water Spirit - With this ability an alchemist may exert some control over Shui Shen. While a Suijen or Heng Po may command and expect to be obeyed, other hsien must bargain or sacrifice to the spirit to get their aid. Water elementals are notoriously tricky in their dealings as well.
  • Nurture/Diminish Water Soul / Entreat the Attendants of the Water Dragon - Canny leaders use this effect to create loyalty in their followers or to steal another's followers to themselves.
  • Increase/Decrease Water Attribute / Tongue of Feng Sheng/Softness of Xue Shen - With these invocations the Alchemist can bless or curse a target by modifying their Manipulation or Stamina Attribute. The Tongue of Feng Sheng makes a target as smooth tongued as the wind while the Softness of Xue Shen makes one as prone to damage as soft snow.
  • Summon the Dragon Boat - An alchemist would use Shui Tan to summon a Dragon boat if the Dragon Line travels through water or the sky.

Level 3: Raiment of the Elements

  • The Enfolded Object - This seems like a rather unlikely ability to use with Water but could be quite useful in cohort effects, perhaps enfolding canteens. Ice objects could theoretically be enfolded without melting. Perhaps a poisonous cloud of gas could be enfolded and released at an appropriate time, though unless the Alchemist had turned themselves into the same they would be affected by it on release as well.
  • The Path of Water / Sewer Swim / Invisible Watcher - Moving through water is obviously a handy thing and for those who can handle how distasteful it is, sewers are everywhere in cities. The ability to move through water lines is handy as well. On top of this, the Dragon of the Eight Breezes gives the Water Alchemist the ability to travel invisibly on the paths of the wind. This can be dangerous, though, as the hsien cannot withstand strong winds and can be blown away if not careful.
  • Water Form / Ice Fist - Under the discussion on Wu Tan it states that elemental forms still follow the rules of physics. Unless the Alchemist has a form to fill, in water form they will spill out onto the ground. While this might be a good way to hide momentarily, one hopes not to be absorbed by anything. The ability to turn to Ice, though, is more useful and, at the density it would be, shattering isn't quite an issue.
  • Mask Water Soul - (Not Canon) If one can take on the raiment of the elements, it would follow that one could put on the raiment of the Water Soul as well. Most wise members of the Shui Fu learn this ability at some point as it lets them mask their disloyalty and duplicitousness from their superiors. Of course, the superiors all know this trick as well and so don't trust even those they think they can trust unless they are sure their underling doesn't know this level of the Tan.

Level 4: Awaken Elements

  • Awaken True Jade / Awaken the Black Tortoise - The Alchemist may awaken Black Jade.
  • Move Water - With this I Chih the Alchemist could cause an Avalanche, halt the flow of blood in a target, or lift the water out of a swimming pool to save a drowning victim and if that was too late they could remove the water from the lungs of a victim.
  • Summon/Dispel Water - Dispelling the air from someone's lungs can be devastating and removing it from the room behind someone can cause a vacuum effect that can be quite useful. Summoning water can be quite useful in the desert. This also allows the Alchemist to summon or dispel storms. This can have serious ramifications on weather systems, though.
  • Shape/Sunder Water - Parting a sea springs to mind. One could also case water to reach out and grab someone to drown them. Ice sculpting is easy with this I Chih. Though it would be a great effect of Domain, a winsome Heng Po could shape clouds to amuse him or herself.
  • Repair Water Soul - (Not Canon) If one can shape and sunder elements, one would assume it is possible to shape the Water Soul as well. Interestingly enough most beings who fall to the Yama Kings don't loose faith in themselves or worldly powers, it simply is focused on an evil entity. One could reshape the soul and send its trust to another. However, the most common use of this ability would be to heal the soul of a person who has been so beaten down by the world that they have lost all self-confidence or trust in others.
  • Awaken Shui Shen - As the Shui Fu threatens to unleash the Four Rivers Dragon if the Three Gorges Dam Project goes through, they would use an I Chih based in this effect to awaken the slumbering dragon.

Level 5: Master the Elements, Throne of Jade

  • Exchange Properties - With this effect fresh water could be given the freezing point of salt water or a noxious gas could be rendered no more harmful that water vapor.
  • Transmute Water - Being able to change water or saline into blood is handy when emergency supplies aren't nearby. One can also purify liquids with this ability. Alternatively one could turn one's enemy's tea into a liquid poison quite readily.
  • Transmute Shui Shen - (Not Canon) This god-like power must always be handled with care. Turning one water spirit into another is not to be done lightly. Even more hazardous for ones health is to use a cohort effect to change a Shui Shen into a Tieh Shen or Lin Shen, though if it is done as part of re-enforcing the natural constructive cycle of things this may be even applauded by the powers that be.


  1. CTDLand of Eight Million Dreams, pp. 14, 98-99, 116.

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