The human spirit is immortal. It inhabits mortal flesh for a span within the world before being liberated again, having gained knowledge and enlightenment. It traverses the Labyrinth of Ages before returning to mortal life through new birth. - the Doctrine of Reincarnation


By far the most common use for a dose of true liao is as part of the ceremony that grants a past life vision. This ceremony is usually administered with the assistance of the Attendants of the Gateway (a dedicated department of the Civil Service) but it is possible for any character with the dedication skill to attempt it. Doing so without the assistance of the Civil Service is likely dangerous and highly irregular - but it is not impossible.

Preparing true liao for this ceremony is a long and exacting task, but it is not a secret; anyone with the apothecary skill could do it in theory - assuming they had a dose of true liao. The process is painstaking and takes a season to complete. Applying the resulting infusion takes two minutes of appropriate roleplaying and requires a referee. It must be done at a time that has been prearranged with the plot team. In-character, the infusion is time-sensitive in a similar fashion to some other apothecary preparations such as poisons.

The ceremony has one main target, called the visionary. It may have one secondary target at no additional cost, usually referred to as the guide.

The visionary must be human. They will experience a vision in which they experience events from the perspective of another. They frequently experience side-effects once the vision ends.

The guide must be human. They must have the dedication skill. They will experience the same vision as the visionary, but as an invisible and silent observer. During the vision, they can only be heard by the visionary. They may experience some side-effects once the vision ends.

The Vision

Upon completion of the ceremony, the visionary and guide feel as if transported to another time and place: they experience a short scene as if physically present. At the end of the scene, they wake up again in the place of the ceremony.

Out of character, TIME FREEZE is called by the referee at an appropriate point in the ceremony: the target(s) are shown into an encounter tent or other prepared space by crew, where they will participate in a vision. At the end of the vision, TIME FREEZE is called and they are returned to the place where they took the liao. During this time, the bodies of the target(s) lie still as if they were dead.

Character Abilities

It is not possible for anyone to use any character abilities during a past life vision, except for those that the referee explicitly indicate can be used. For example, if you are part of a vision in which you have the role of battlefield healer you may be specifically told that you have the ability to treat wounds.

Safety Tools

Past life visions are a deliberately intense experience from which your character cannot immediately retreat without consequences, but at the same time it is absolutely not our intent to give the players a bad experience. If at any point during the vision it is too intense for you then you can call OC STOP or otherwise drop out of character. We will pause the scene immediately, work to make things right to the best of our ability, and together we will work out how to proceed in a manner that is comfortable. There are no in-character consequences for doing this.


Under typical circumstances, the process of awakening from a vision is similar to awakening from a dream or a nightmare. The Attendants of the Gateway will return the visionary and the guide to Anvil as quickly as they can. It is normal practice for one of the attendants to remain with them until they are delivered back to their fellows, in case of delayed side-effects. The attendant usually remain until the formal question, “citizens, have I done my duty?” can be answered with an affirmative. They then return to the Gateway to prepare it for the next ceremony.

Past life visions sometimes have unforeseen side effects. The most common effects are spontaneous auras, usually personal to the visionary and/or guide. In a very small number of cases, one or both of the participants have died in the course of their vision. It is popularly believed that a character's behaviour during the vision affects these side effects.

The Civil Service offer advice on best practice during a vision as part of the procedure, but while they have performed many of these ceremonies, they do not know everything. The simplest piece of advice is this: the visionary should act as if they are truly present, and the guide should not.

Nonstandard visions

Due to the nature of these visions, which are delivered as immersive roleplaying experiences by the encounter team, we ask that any player with the intention to receive a vision by a nonstandard method contact the plot team as soon as possible, in order to arrange the logistics of this vision. You will need to let us know before downtime closes so that we can prepare the vision no matter how your character is planning to consume the true liao. We will do our best to help with any out of character logistical constraints, but in character actions are outside of our control.

You must notify Profound Decisions even if you are planning to keep your plans secret from the Civil Service and indeed anyone else. The more the plot team knows about your intentions, the more interesting they can make the consequences.

Interviewing the Visionary

The Attendants of the Gateway make best effort to interview visionaries before beginning the preparation of the true liao, in order to explain what is going to happen. The more details they have, the easier it is to tailor the preparation to the participants. This optional step to the process is normally carried out either on Saturday evening or on Sunday during the summit before the vision is scheduled to take place. If a visionary has not been interviewed by midday on Sunday, they are advised to attend the Hub to arrange an interview. The visionary is not yet required to have selected a guide, and the guide is not interviewed in this way.

Out of character, this is the point at which information regarding any accessibility requirements is gathered. This information is verified again at the beginning of the event where the vision is to be held. We will always commit to ensuring that the vision is as accessible as possible to both visionary and guide, even if these requirements change.

Scheduling the Vision

During the event that the vision is scheduled to take place, the visionary and their chosen guide should visit the Hub at 7pm on Friday, or send a representative to arrange for an alternative time. This meeting is where the scheduling of the visions is communicated to the visionaries and their guides, and the Civil Service provide a briefing on best practice and are available to answer any questions they may have.

The Ceremony

The Way does not teach a slavish following of ancient procedures, and the exact nature of the ceremony has not remained fixed over the centuries. One of the most solemn duties of the head curator of the Attendants of the Gateway is to produce their ceremonial script, which is a reflection of their own understanding, drawing upon the traditions of the past. As the current curator is Highborn, the ceremony has a distinctly Highborn feel, but it contains elements drawn from a variety of Imperial traditions.

The true liao ceremony itself is performed by three civil servants. The visionary and guide are conducted into a Civil Service facility a short distance from Anvil, known as the Gateway: they are asked to bring minimal possessions with them. During the ceremony, they are asked to reaffirm their identities, origins, virtue and loyalties in the form of a series of oaths. They are provided with a robe and a hood in a ceremonial armouring against perils of the Labyrinth of Ages. They are given a final summary of what it is that they are about to do, what is going to happen, and what it is that that might mean. They are then given the true liao.

Further Reading